The pandemic is continuing to have a profound impact on the way students and parents view the K-12 education space. Frustrated with the lack of options, parents are demanding more education choices for their children.
States can adopt parental choice policies such as Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and scholarship programs that empower parents to find a learning environment that best fits their child’s unique needs. There are, however, additional, innovative ways to improve education for students.
State Policy Network launched the Ed-Prize grant program with this in mind. Ed-Prize inspires and accelerates new solutions to improve education outcomes across the country. Through grant funding and other support, the program helps entrepreneurs and innovators bring new education approaches to life—creating a brighter future for American families and students.
Thanks to the generous support of the Walton Family Foundation, the program accelerates ambitious, creative approaches that advance flexible learning models, drive accountability through transparency, and improve student performance in K-12 education.
The 2022 Ed-Prize winners were recognized at State Policy Network’s 30th Annual Meeting and received $150,000 in grant money among the four winners. Learn more below about their innovative approaches to education that will help children gain access to a quality education they deserve.
ASU Prep Academy started in 2008 with one turn around school in downtown Phoenix. It now has 11 schools, including a full-time digital school. ASU Prep has uniquely positioned to advance a long overdue agenda for large-scale innovation in American K12 education that will ultimately yield improved educational outcomes and affordability for families. The strength of ASU Prep’s position is rooted in its relationship to Arizona State University (ASU), a comprehensive research university ranked #1 in innovation by US News and World Report for the past eight years.
ASU Prep will use the funding from Ed-Prize to expand their efforts nationwide through developing a toolkit, “Microschool in a Box”. This toolkit will allow ASU Prep to work in collaboration with local community entrepreneurs, parents and education leaders to launch microschools in key markets where ASU Local has a presence.
Microschools are private organizations that offer teachers for hire to small groups of students. This unique learning option offers students a personalized education and caters to a child’s unique needs and capabilities. By encouraging entrepreneurs to launch microschools in their communities, ASU Prep will help even more students benefit from this innovative education option.
Great Hearts Academies, a 20-year-old classical education nonprofit serving over 25,000 students across Texas and Arizona, founded Great Hearts Nova in 2020 as an in-house innovation hub for new classical education models. The “research & development” division launched Great Hearts Online, in January 2021 in Texas and August 2021 in Arizona, and Great Hearts Microschools in both states in January 2022. In Fall 2023, Great Hearts Nova will launch a national Great Hearts Online offering.
Great Hearts Nova will use its Ed-Prize award to train and license a new microschool founder for the 2022-2023 academic year in Arizona. Great Hearts also plans to develop regional communities for currently enrolled GH Online students and plant seeds for growing GH Microschools, significantly advancing efforts to establish a total of 10 microschools by the 2023-2024 academic year. GH Nova hopes to expand their hybrid microschools in Texas and Arizona and, ultimately, nationwide.
Great Hearts has a waiting list of 13,000 students for brick-and-mortar schools in Arizona and Texas—but knows it cannot serve all those children quickly without other alternatives. Ed-Prize will allow the Foundation to serve these students and potentially thousands more if they expand microschools to other states.
Hearts of Empowerment (HoE) is a nonprofit that aims to provide equitable education, personal development, and mentorship in communities in Washington, DC through their PACT program. This initiative was first inspired by Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback, Darrell Green who is the father of Jared Green (Program Director). In the late 80’s, Green began leveraging his influence, resources, and network to revive inner city communities. Like Jared, the PACT is the continuation of that great mission.
HoE believes that it takes a village to save a city and their holistic approach meets the needs of children and parents with a focus on economic opportunities. Their aim is to enhance the systems of their city and strengthen the pipeline to health and wealth in addition to the core principles of goodness and kindness. By partnering with local businesses and providing personal development resources, HoE stands in the gap to mitigate generational poverty and community challenges. The organization will use the grant from Ed-Prize to expand the PACT Community Hub—a new project that is concentrated on offering educational opportunities through mentorship programs for middle and high school students with a variety of corporate leaders. The goal being to set-up youth for success through alternative ways of learning that results in a career path after graduation.
PACT mentors and staff will provide educational development for students, life skills and instruction for parents and caregivers, and information on career pathing for both students and parents. Success of this project will be measured by the amount of families that are no longer dependent on their services. The Ed-Prize award will support other aspects of the PACT Program including community events and outreach, operations and meals for the program’s students.
RESCHOOL is a Colorado-based nonprofit that seeks to create an equitable education system where learning that happens everywhere is fully accessible to all young people. RESCHOOL operates as a partner to families, learning providers, community organizations, and employers to co-create solutions to unmet needs in young people’s learning.
RESCHOOL will use its Ed-Prize to resource local learner advocates networks (LANs) that support parents and students to access learning opportunities of their choosing and to navigate and alleviate system barriers. These LANs will also utilize a Design Lab, stemming from RESCHOOL’s work with communities for the past 9 years, and will also make these digital and hands on resources in the Design Lab available open source to the broader public, in the coming months. Design Lab was developed in response to inquiries from around the country from people wanting to learn more about how RESCHOOL works—giving RESCHOOL an avenue to expand its reach well beyond Colorado. This new “networked” approach to LANs is one part of RESCHOOL’s broader efforts to ensure all kids can access equitable and expansive learning ecosystems in Colorado. In addition to supporting the LANs to grow and meet families’ needs, RESCHOOL will invest in these communities with Learning Dollars (money that goes directly to families to cover the costs of learning resources and opportunities they choose that align with their interests and needs) and provider dollars (funding to support and grow the ecosystem of local learning providers that serve youth and community-based organizations that work directly with families.
Congratulations to these nonprofits for their efforts to ensure all children, regardless of where they live or how much money their family makes, have access to a quality education they need and deserve.