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Next Generation Learning Challenges Seeks Promising Tools That Can Help Students Get Ready For College | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Next Generation Learning Challenges today announced a new round of challenge grants that will provide up to $10 million to expand promising technology tools and applications that help more students master seventh- through ninth-grade math and literacy competencies, which are critical to college and career readiness.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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SEATTLE--The Next Generation Learning Challenges today announced a new round of challenge grants that will provide up to $10 million to expand promising technology tools and applications that help more students master seventh- through ninth-grade math and literacy competencies, which are critical to college and career readiness. The initiative, which is already supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also announced today a $1.4 million investment from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to broaden funding for the program’s grants to innovators.

“This initiative has the potential to help change how the next generation of students learns,” said Paul Brest, President of the Hewlett Foundation. “Technology has a great role to play in advancing 'deeper learning,' an approach to improving education that helps students achieve a critical combination of the fundamental knowledge and practical skills they will need to succeed in a fiercely competitive global economy.”

Next Generation Learning Challenges provides investment capital to technologists, institutions, educators, and entrepreneurs to bring promising technology solutions to more students across the K-12 to postsecondary spectrum. The initiative released its first request for proposals (RFP), focused on improving postsecondary education, in October 2010. Finalists eligible for funding from this round will be announced within the next several weeks.

An RFP released today seeks proposals for the new round of grants. Proposals must outline promising approaches to helping students master seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade content and competencies aligned with the Common Core State Standards—a set of guidelines developed by states that define the knowledge and skills students need to learn for success in college and careers. Applicants’ approaches must also include innovative learning assessment strategies that generate real-time information, which teachers and advisors can use to help more students succeed in their education.Proposals are due March 4, 2011; winners are expected to be announced in June 2011.

“We support innovators who want to harness the power of technology to help more young people get into and through college, ready to succeed in the workplace,” said Ira Fuchs, Executive Director of the Next Generation Learning Challenges. “We must accelerate the use of learning tools that hold tremendous promise to help meet this challenge.”

Applicants responding to the new Next Generation Learning Challenges RFP must present programs and applications that meet the following criteria:

  • Target seventh- to ninth-grade math or literacy content and competencies; programs may focus on all ages of learners.
  • Use modular content that can be mixed and matched easily by learners and teachers.
  • Use embedded assessment that can capture and assess student performance and provide performance feedback that the learner and teachers can use to improve the learning process and results.
  • Exemplify contemporary research in cognitive and learning science, including interactive and contextualized learning, multiple learning paths, and scaffolded learning that results in deeper disciplinary understanding of concepts, as well as opportunities for students to practice skills and competencies.
  • Focus on student progression and mastery of concepts and skills, rather than “seat time.”
Nonprofit educational technology leader EDUCAUSE, which works to advance higher education through the use of information technology, leads the Next Generation Learning Challenges in collaboration with a network of organizations working at the intersection of education and technology, including: the League for Innovation in the Community College, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Each offers deep, practical expertise in educational instruction, leadership, and management.

The Next Generation Learning Challenges will provide new challenge grants that focus on different opportunities and education challenges approximately every six to 12 months. It will also evaluate the projects it funds to build a body of evidence regarding their impact, and help create an active community of innovators and educators committed to driving next generation learning forward. Learn more about the discussion online.

“We believe that if technology is applied well, it has the potential to significantly improve student learning experiences and can offer more personalized and effective approaches to prepare students for college and the workforce,” said Vicki Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Through the Next Generation Learning Challenges partnership, we are excited to collaborate with a diverse field of innovators to improve and increase the adoption of tools that help students succeed.”

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association dedicated to advancing the intelligent use of information technology in higher education, EDUCAUSE helps those who lead, manage, and use information technology to shape strategic decisions at every level. The association's programs include applied research and analysis, strategic policy advocacy, teaching and learning initiatives, professional development, print and online information resources, and special interest collaborative communities. The current membership comprises more than 2,300 colleges, universities, and educational organizations.

The Council of Chief State School Officers
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues.

International Association for K-12 Online Learning
iNACOL is the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a non-profit 501(c)(3) membership association based in the Washington, DC area with more than 3,100 members. iNACOL is unique in that its members represent a diverse cross-section of K-12 education from school districts, charter schools, state education agencies, non-profit organizations, colleges, universities and research institutions, corporate entities and other content and technology providers. iNACOL hosts the annual Virtual School Symposium (VSS).

League for Innovation in the Community College
The League is an international organization dedicated to catalyzing the community college movement. We host conferences and institutes, develop Web resources, conduct research, produce publications, provide services, and lead projects and initiatives with our member colleges, corporate partners, and other agencies in our continuing efforts to make a positive difference for students and communities.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation's programs have ambitious goals that include: helping to reduce global poverty, limiting the risk of climate change, improving education for students in California and elsewhere, improving reproductive health and rights worldwide, supporting vibrant performing arts in our community, advancing the field of philanthropy, and supporting disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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