Today’s young people live in a hyper-digital and often fragmented world. This is true in their lives as learners as well—learning can occur anywhere, anytime. In order to meet the needs of the next generation, a growing body of research indicates that digital media tools and technology can be leveraged to connect academics to interests, learners to friends and mentors, and learning opportunities to the kinds of skills the new economy demands. These three elements undergird an emerging pedagogical approach called connected learning.
The Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning (Fund) at The Chicago Community Trust is a funder collaborative that empowers educators to use connected learning principles, including the thoughtful integration of digital media and technology, to help engage youth in meaningful 21st Century learning experiences.
The Fund was seeded through generous support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (MacArthur) as part of its Digital Media & Learning program. Current contributors to the Fund include the Illinois Science & Energy Innovation Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, SCE, and The Trust.
Hive Chicago Learning Network staff do not administer the Fund. They independently support a professional learning community dedicated to learning innovation, where members are free to test and tinker with innovative program ideas using networked resources and are exclusively eligible to lead proposals to Hive Fund RFPs, though collaboration is open to organizations outside of the Network.
The Fund issues two annual Request for Proposals (RFP) to Hive Chicago Learning Network members to develop collaborative learning innovation that have the potential to spread connected learning experiences for youth in Chicago. Projects may also serve educators as long as activities and outcomes ultimately aim to improve learning opportunities for youth.
Hive Fund grant categories encourage innovation, foster collaboration, and bring successful ideas to spread by creating pathways from inspiration to prototype to sustainability.
Small Glimmer grants help develop ideas and plan. Modest Spark grants support piloting an idea with partners. Slightly larger Embark grants let organizations refine and further test their projects. Larger Catalyst grants let organizations spread their project to greater participants and involve more resources. At every stage, experimentation is encouraged, and project plans and outcomes are shared with Hive Network members so that others may learn from members’ experiences.
Hive Network organizations work to develop learning experiences that are interest-driven, peer supported, academically relevant, and take advantage of interactive and networked media to make these forms of learning more effective, better integrated, and broadly accessible.
All Hive Fund proposals must be led by a Hive Chicago Partner Organizational Member. New Partner Members may apply as a lead organization after one Hive Fund RFP cycle has transpired during their membership. However, they can participate as a project partner during the first cycle in which they are members.
An organization can serve as the lead applicant on a maximum of two proposals.
Collaboration is required. All proposals must include at least one Hive Network member (partner or affiliate) as a project collaborator. Affiliates are for-profit or non-profit organizations, institutions, or companies who desire to form strategic partnerships with Hive Chicago through their own youth-serving initiatives aligned with Hive mission, vision & goals. Affiliates, Allies, and organizations outside of the Network may also collaborate on a proposal. For-profit proposal collaborators cannot be direct recipients of financial support from the Fund, but may receive re-grants through the lead applicant on a Hive proposal.