Feb 18, 2020 · 5 min read

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $5.45 Million to Educators and Organizations Partnering to Implement Cutting-Edge Research

Grant Partners Will Leverage the Science of Learning and Development to Transform School Practices

CZI is funding 9 educator-researcher teams to advance whole child practices, including self-directed learning, that help students develop self direction and curiosity.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) today announced $5.45 million in grants to teams of educators and researchers working together to improve school practices by applying the science of learning and development. They will be focused on school practices that help students develop self direction and curiosity. Nine teams of educators and researchers will receive grants from $425,000 to $650,000 to support local projects, and participate in a multi-year collaboration designed to strengthen connections among educators, schools, and communities nationwide.

“Unlocking the power of advanced educational research depends on not only sharing with educators, but learning from, validating, and valuing their experiences and insights,” said Sandra Liu Huang, head of education at CZI. “We are excited to support these collaborations between educators and researchers to advance whole child-focused school practices and help improve student outcomes.”

The nine teams awarded grants are:

  • Black Teacher Collaborative (BTC): Middle school teachers at Fannie C. Williams Charter School in New Orleans will participate in the BTC Teacher Fellowship 2.0 program, a two-year fellowship designed to shift teachers’ mindsets and practices in order to have a positive impact on Black students’ self-direction, curiosity, and academic tenacity. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Hampton University, an HBCU, will evaluate how, and whether, building teachers’ racial identity impacts students’ racial identity, love of learning, and intellectual excellence as they relate to self-direction, curiosity, and academic tenacity.
  • Student-Driven Learning Through Classroom Discourse: The Boston Debate League will partner with the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development and the Henderson Inclusion School to build a framework for implementing and scaling a debate-inspired classroom program, where students lead their own thinking and conversations through evidence-based discourse.
  • Self-Direction through Citizens of the World’s Learning Fellowship: Citizens of the World Charter Schools, in Los Angeles and Kansas City, Mo., will study the impact of peer-mentoring experiences and a structured curriculum on students’ self-direction and curiosity in grades 6-8.
  • Integrating Student-Led Assessment Practice and Self-Regulated Learning Research: In collaboration with national nonprofit Battelle for Kids and George Mason University, Frederick County Public Schools (VA) will examine how student-led assessments strategies contribute to the development of a student’s agency and curiosity.
  • Strategic Literacy Initiative: The Environmental Charter Schools network in Los Angeles will collaborate with WestEd’s Strategic Literacy Initiative to deepen and sustain the practice of pairing metacognitive conversations (which make internal thought processes visible to students and teachers) with the reading of complex, discipline-based texts to bolster curiosity, self-direction, and academic skills.
  • Land-Based Learning to Support the Whole Child: The Native American Community Academy in New Mexico will pilot, assess, and refine a learning framework developed to provide Native youth with educational opportunities that integrate the study of land and students’ Native cultural contexts.
  • Nez Perce STEP Evaluation Project: The Nez Perce Tribe Education Department, in partnership with the Idaho State Department of Education, will explore the impact of culturally responsive teaching practices on student engagement in Idaho’s Lapwai and Kamiah School Districts through the Nez Perce STEP program, which trains Native teachers on culturally competent pedagogy and effective family engagement practices.
  • The Role of Enhanced Mindfulness Practices for Educators in Promoting Self-Direction: New Village Girls Academy (NVGA), which pairs daily mindfulness with project-based learning, will partner with the University of California, Los Angeles and University of Southern California to evaluate whether teachers’ ability to self-regulate helps to co-regulate with students and impact the richness of student-led work.
  • Asset-Based Dialogic Teaching to Promote Curiosity and Self-Direction: Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Education will explore the impact of dialogic teaching, a process where teachers pose critical problems for inquiry, reflect upon students’ responses, and engage students in conversation, at Tucson Magnet, Cholla, and Pueblo High Schools in Tucson, Ariz.

“We’re excited to support the work of these teams to expand the definition of student success beyond academics by translating the science of learning and development into exemplary, replicable practices,” said Brooke Stafford-Brizard, director of whole child development at CZI. “Each of these teams have demonstrated the potential to not only improve student outcomes locally, but to inform their peers and the broader education field.”

CZI launched its Request for Applications for Effective School Practices to Support the Whole Child in August 2019. Today’s announcement builds on CZI’s efforts to expand the definition of student success beyond academics to include the identity, physical, mental, cognitive, social and emotional development of individual students. Each project reflects elements of Comprehensive Student Development (CSD), a research-based framework designed to ensure that every young person enters adulthood with the knowledge, skills, habits, and agency to thrive in a changing world.

CZI is committed to ensuring every young person enters adulthood with the skills and abilities they need to reach their full potential — and each teacher is equipped with the mindsets, tools and practices they need to support their students’ learning and development. Learn more about CZI’s education work at https://chanzuckerberg.com/education/.


About 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 chanzuckerberg.com.

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