Fifteen innovative education projects designed to address COVID-19’s dramatic impact on Colorado’s schools and students will share $149,700 in grants from the COVID-19 Education Innovation Fund. In addition, a total of $24,000 was distributed to 71 Colorado families to help cover costs for their children’s summer learning through the family learning dollars program managed the RESCHOOL, including $15,000 from the Fund.

COVID-19 Education Innovation Fund MapIn May, Gates Family Foundation joined forces with a coalition of partners to launch the COVID-19 Education Innovation Fund, which ultimately will distribute a total of at least $325,000 on a rolling basis to promote resilient education systems and stimulate new approaches to meeting learners’ needs. Donnell-Kay Foundation, Colorado Succeeds, Lyra Colorado, Empower Schools, RESCHOOL Colorado, and RootED are all partners in this initiative.

The 15 grantees listed below were selected from 156 letters of interest submitted for the Fund’s June 1 and June 15 deadlines.

Interested in applying? You still have two more chances — letters of interest are due by 5 p.m. MT on July 15 and August 15. Complete information about this grant opportunity is here. RESCHOOL is no longer accepting applications for family learning dollars; if you are interested in investing to expand the capacity of the program, please email info@reschoolcolorado.org.

COVID-19 Education Innovation Fund – June 2020 Grantees

E Movement is a collaboration of more than 20 organizations that created the nation’s first whole-child environmental literacy guidelines in 2016. A $5,000 award will support the development and dissemination of a bilingual database of virtual programming designed to facilitate whole-child learning for grades K-8.

Edgewater Collective will provide summertime pop-up lunch and literacy lessons for grade K-3 students, and also create opportunities for student-teacher connections to bridge the remote learning divide. This $4,000 award will also support the Collective in evaluating this pilot program, which it plans to adapt as a viable model in the fall if remote learning continues.

Fremont Multi-District Initiative is a collaboration between three local Fremont County public school districts and Pueblo Community College. The partnering organizations recognized that resources are often inequitably distributed across school districts in the area, and are working to reinvent the way a region can cooperatively utilize resources and sustainably provide an outstanding educational experience for rural students. A $15,000 award will support this joint effort.

Grand Mesa Arts & Events Center is a nonprofit located in the rural community of Cedaredge. Each year, the center leads 30+ art-based classes for community youth to supplement offerings at local elementary and middle schools. A $2,700 award will support three art programs to engage students both virtually and in-person during the summer.

Greater Than One Collective (GTO) is a collaborative of organizations working to create a community-, home-, and school-connected learning network with students and families at three Park Hill schools. A $15,000 award will support the collaborative to adapt its model so that it can continue to provide wraparound support to 40+ families and partner with schools on community-centered redesign.

Photo courtesy of the Hustle Collective

Photo courtesy of the Hustle Collective

The Hustle Collective is a group of educators and students that will pilot a new model of virtual, student-led learning with 75+ students (ages 13-18) in the Denver metropolitan area. Students will work with mentors and peers to set a goal and develop and execute self-directed learning plans. A $15,000 award will support this pilot project, which was initiated at Empower Community High School in Aurora.

Logan Learning Lab addresses the barriers that prevent gifted students from underrepresented backgrounds from accessing educational experiences that maximize their full potential. The Lab works with educators across Denver Public Schools to identify and engage these students and their families, and develop teachers’ student-centered instructional practices to transform learning. A $10,000 award will support the Lab’s work this fall.

Montezuma School to Farm Project supports Southwest Colorado students with educational programs on nutrition, gardening, and environmental stewardship. A $3,500 award will support the project in adapting seven school-based gardens and launching three hybrid summertime programs with a strong focus on the environment, math, science, and art.

R.O.G.U.E. is a youth-led multi-media effort that aims to strengthen relationships among young people and build bridges with older generations by discussing impactful topics that span multiple communities. A $5,000 award will support the team to develop content for YouTube, a newsletter, and a podcast focused on supporting students to navigate the post-COVID-19 education landscape and the transition from high school to college.

San Luis Valley Innovation Hub is a collaboration between the Boys and Girls Club of the San Luis Valley, ActionLab360, Alamosa School District, neighboring districts, and community partners. A $15,000 award will support the collaborative to launch a new model of online learning that is easily customizable and will be available to more than 1,000 students in the valley.

Silverton Public Schools is a small, rural district in Southwest Colorado with a whole-child approach to teaching and learning. A $20,000 award will support the district to engage with students and families one-on-one to redesign and rethink the school schedule, and to develop and formalize structures to build relationships and provide student and family coaching through the fall. The effort will work in partnership with the local early childhood education center, and inform the approach of the district into the future.

Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning provides intercultural learning programs and services to Coloradans. In response to COVID-19, the Spring Institute plans to launch a new summer learning program at two apartment complexes in Denver and Aurora that are home to a diverse group of multicultural students. The organization plans to project virtual classes in outdoor spaces so that residents can build community while remaining physically distanced. A $5,000 award will support the launch and implementation of this program.

Vilas School District is a small rural district in Southeast Colorado with a focus on project-based learning and developing students’ technological skills. Vilas piloted a homeschool options program in the 2019-20 school year, and this $6,500 award will support planning, communications, and partner building so that the district can accommodate anticipated growth of the program in the 2020-21 school year.

Wyatt Academy is a K-5 community-centered elementary school serving children and families in the Cole and Whittier neighborhoods of Denver. A $8,000 award will support Wyatt to deeply engage families during the summer months to develop a hybrid learning plan with robust online content, and continue to support families with its on-site resource center.

Young Aspiring Americans for Social & Political Activism is rooted in giving Black youth and youth of color the civic tools and knowledge to understand and resist racism while they navigate their school experience and advocate for systemic change. A $20,000 award will support a summertime pilot of a five-week Social Sciences and Policy Institute that will lead students in small cohorts through experiential learning projects.

RESCHOOL Learning Dollars

A portion of the COVID-19 Education Innovation Fund was used to create a learning dollars fund, managed by RESCHOOL. Families disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and facing economic hardship were invited to apply for funding to pay for resources and experiences their children needed this summer in order to stay engaged in fun, interesting, and important learning.

Pie charts showing funded applicants and all applicants by raceRESCHOOL received more than 400 applications in a two-week span and has had to temporarily stop accepting applications, because demand exceeded the supply of funding on hand. They are actively fundraising and hope to offer more learning dollars to support families this Summer and into the Fall.

As of June 30, RESCHOOL has distributed $24,000 in learning dollars for 160 youth from 71 families statewide. Together, the partners leveraged our collective networks to ensure that word about the learning dollars fund was received by families from trusted partners across the state and that funding was distributed across geographic regions. This map shows where applications came from and where learning dollars were distributed. We will provide further information later this summer about people’s experiences with this fund and how families used their learning dollars.

The majority of applications (78%) were from families with multiple children and with household incomes below $50,000.

Overview of Learning Dollars Applicants and Distribution of Funds (as of June 30, 2020):

Given our inability to fund all those who applied, we prioritized available funding for those with household incomes below $35,000 and from communities disproportionally affected by COVID-19.

  • 73% of applications received were in English, 28% were in Spanish.
  • 56% indicated English as their primary language 35% indicated Spanish as their primary language
  • 3% indicated Other (Arabic, Amharic, Burmese, Somali, Oromo, Vietnamese)

To download a shareable PDF of this award announcement, click here.