Creating better education systems so learning is accessible for all young people is about who is designing those ideas, where the power and resources are, and how we’re defining learning.
Check out this video RESCHOOL co-created with partners in 2017 addressing the challenges in our current system and how to address those challenges.
Supporting Families to Access, Resource, and Navigate Learning
Every parent has aspirations for their child’s education, and future. Their children also have opinions about what, where, and how they want to engage in learning and life. Yet, they often struggle to know what goals are appropriate at different stages, what opportunities exist, which ones are the best fit, and how to have conversations together (parent and child) to make decisions about which schools and other learning experiences reflect their family context, academic goals, interests, and cultural identity. Having a trusted partner (we call this person a learner advocate) to walk alongside them through this process and build upon their capacity to navigate increasingly complex learning options has become essential.
The infusion of learner advocate into our communities is a way of responding to a need raised by families in our networks. RESCHOOL’s learner advocates meet with parents to guide them in their pursuit of purposeful and relevant learning paths from birth to career. The first learner advocate network we created was in partnership with Boulder Housing Partners, a model they continue to grow years after our first prototypes together. The second iteration of this concept is run by RESCHOOL, in partnership with employers that offer access to our learner advocates to working parents as an employee benefit. Families connected to our advocates have access to RESCHOOL’s learning dollar fund; a fund created for families in Colorado to offset the expense of participating in experiences when cost is a barrier to access.
See how we put this into practice with families, community organizations and employers.
Equitable Access to Learning Everywhere
Young people spend 80% of their waking hours outside of school. Access to the learning that happens outside of school is not equitable and the gap is widening.
We take steps to fund and provide more access to learning within and beyond school. Whether this means offering funds to support with technology and school supplies, funding for tutoring sessions or funding to participate in extracurricular programs, families should be able to access what they need.
Some ways we are supporting a broader learning ecosystem:
We’ve worked with learning providers in a variety of ways over the years including:
- Partnering with organizations to link scholarship money they have to families before program spots fill up
- Piloting ideas to create more inclusive and welcoming environments for young people
- Providing feedback on organization application processes to increase accessibility
- Connect learning providers to each other and other potential partners
See how we put this into practice with families and learning providers.
Funding Learning Communities
RESCHOOL’s work with families and community organizations led us to discover networks of people, across households and geographies, who are supporting each other to access, create, and resource learning experiences (for themselves as young adults or for their children as parents). We wanted to learn more about how these networks formed and functioned and what impact they were having in their communities. So we started The Learning Community Initiative to raise funding and invest in local learning networks.
A Learning Communities Initiative (LCI) consists of groups of people that are already in community with each other.
The groups form an LCI cohort. Some groups are parent-led and some are youth-led.
Each participant is provided a stipend for their time in participating in the LCI and each group is offered learning dollars to be split up amongst the participants in the group however they think is best to meet the needs of their network.
The LCI participants lean into others in their group to solve for barriers they are experiencing and decisions they need to make about their children’s learning. They leverage their agency and their networks. RESCHOOL learns from them and provides them with resources to support.
LCI groups have utilized their learning dollars to participate in sports programming, provide supplemental activities for their own children, and share and resources with other parents outside of their initial network. The reason resources were able to extend deeper into families and communities than we originally imagined is because the recipients were given the flexibility to use the learning dollars as they saw fit.
We know that investing in people and their networks works directly to fulfill learning needs and we also now know that it doesn’t stop with the initial network. The impact of investment into people extends into others in their own communities.
This effort draws inspiration from the Family Independence Initiative, an organization whose premise is that there are communities of people navigating systems together and we should invest in their solutions.
RESCHOOL partners with community-based organizations to connect with interested families.
Families are already navigating decisions about learning and life in creative ways with their trusted networks. We are investing in those relationships to support the ideas that come from them.
Step Into What Is Possible
We need to orient around new experiences and frameworks to actualize an empowering, meaningful education experience for young people.
RESCHOOL has co-created immersive experiences like REVOLVE and visualization exercises like School’s Out to center learner’s experiences and give people the space to better design our systems of learning in new and creative ways. These experiences highlight experiences young people are having which have important skills at their center and asks people to consider a broader definition of learning.
It is hard to step outside of ourselves and the current state of education to create a relevant, learner-centered system. Harder still to find the time to think, innovate, create and dream. To ensure we’re centering learners and how they experience learning in our work.
Engaging in an experience and having new tools to orient around makes these things infinitely easier.
We can’t wait for one education leader, one school, one nonprofit organization or one policy to come along and fix the inequities in education for us. We need to engage the unique talents, experiences and networks of everybody who impacts education from parents and young people, to teachers and administrators, to nonprofits, policymakers, funders, community leaders, businesses and beyond.
Time is a luxury many impacting education do not have. We need quick, effective ways like REVOLVE and the School’s Out Visualization Tool to unleash the creativity and ideas within many to create better systems of learning.
We hope these tools will serve as inspiration for everyone to affect change with their own context which is crucial in systems change work… because it’s going to take all of us.
Take a look at the resources we make available for everyone who’s interested in transforming education systems.
Our greatest hope is to inspire, support and resource shifts in the education ecosystem so that meaningful learning is accessible to all young people in Colorado.
It will take all of us to accomplish that.
Your talents are unique. You offer a particular value to your community and context. If you’re interested in being part of this work, start by exploring this site—it’s “chalk” full of ways to jump in.