May 18, 2020 · 5 min read

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Expands Commitment to Educators and Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Additional Funding to Support Professional Development and Expansion of Resources for Underserved Communities

2020 | Photography by Moyo Studio/Getty Images

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced today that it will commit $300,000 to Common Sense Media in support of the Wide Open School program, a free and openly accessible collection of online learning experiences and social and community services, for kids and families. CZI is also funding an additional 11 grants for $75,000 each — totaling $825,000, to support professional development aimed at helping educators deliver high-quality distance learning that is grounded in equity, cultural responsiveness, and the science of learning and human development. These 11 grants are a part of CZI’s previous $5 million in grantee support announced on April 20.

“Without quality training and support grounded in equity, schools risk further marginalizing our most vulnerable and disconnected students,” said Sandra Liu Huang, Head of Education at CZI. “The goal of this work is to equip schools with the information they need to design and execute remote learning plans that are accessible, inclusive and support the wellbeing of all teachers and students.”

Geared towards grades K-12, Common Sense Media built Wide Open School in response to the shift to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The free collection of learning experiences is curated by the editors at Common Sense Media and offers a range of resources including those that can be completed offline and on smartphones, as well as bilingual and English-language learner resources.

“School has been disrupted for the majority of students across the country, and the generous investment by CZI in Wide Open School will help us continue to provide families and educators with trusted materials and expand our resources,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense, the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to help kids, families, and educators thrive in a world of media and technology. “As we move into summer, the need for free, quality learning materials and a daily structure will be even greater to combat summer slide and keep kids engaged while they are home.”

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has also funded an additional 11 professional development grants aimed at helping school and district leaders support student and teacher wellbeing as they transition to remote learning environments. The grants focus on students and communities who are most vulnerable during this transition and went to the following organizations:

Beloved Community to support schools and district leaders to apply an equity lens across their COVID relief decision-making and planning.

Diversity Talks to turn their youth-led professional development into a webinar series aimed at engaging in racial-equity oriented conversations, understanding the emotional needs of young people and sharing best practices for virtual engagement.

Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) is helping leaders develop plans to ensure educational equity and access to learning while empowering historically marginalized students. EOS is also providing virtual training to create spaces for innovation throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

The Equity Institute (EI) is offering district partners the opportunity to engage with its learning labs virtually while providing direct support to promote educational equity during this crisis.

Kingmakers of Oakland is supporting school districts across the U.S. to ensure meaningful engagement and wellbeing of African American male students during school and district response efforts.

Latinos for Education is providing virtual training to educators and education leaders across the country focused on the needs of Latino students, teachers and families via their new online platform EdCentro.

Leading Educators is focused on providing tools and evidence-based guidance that meet districts’ needs to address unfinished learning and meet the health and emotional needs of students and adults during COVID relief efforts.

Moonshot edVentures is supporting a diverse pipeline of school leaders as they launch and maintain distance learning environments that support student and teacher wellbeing.

Special Education Leader Fellowship (SELF) is working with school and district leaders to develop distance learning plans that provide meaningful support and access to exceptional learners.

New Teacher Center has created a COVID-19 Community Hub that includes a series of student-centered, evidence-based communities of practice, webinars and resources for teachers and leaders.

228 Accelerator to support districts as they institute remote learning plans and immediate relief for students. Their support focuses on ensuring student and teacher perspectives are meaningfully included in the design of their work.

For more information about how CZI and our partners are responding to COVID-19, visit


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit

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