Since January 1, 2018, stewardship of Hive Chicago has transitioned from Mozilla to a new local non-profit, the Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX). Please visit us at chicagolx/joinus to learn how you and your organization can join our growing community. The Hive is still the Hive.

2018 Round 2 Chicago Learning Exchange Request for Proposals

Proposal Deadline: June 29, 2018

Award Notification: September 10, 2018

Grant Pool: Up to $100,000

Webinar: Join with the following link:


Download or View the 2018 Round 2 Chicago Learning Exchange RFP Document


We are living through a time of profound change, in part, powered by the digital revolution. These changes have deep implications for the current and future generations of learners, educators, parents, and society. Although we know that technology is not a magic wand, it can be used as a tool to transform learning to shift the relationship between educators and learners, provide opportunities for young people to pursue learning experiences that reflect their personal interests, as well as reimagine where learning happens and how it’s recognized. For some, these changes are already a reality, but for underserved populations it’s not the case. If not careful, these technology shifts can create greater divides.

Because equity is at the heart of the Chicago Learning Exchange’s work, we ask: How can learning be more relevant, engaging, and inspiring to youth whose daily realities are intertwined with our city’s most pressing challenges? The Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX) aims to remake learning in Chicago so it is enhanced by technology, driven by learners’ interests, supported by their peers, and relevant to future opportunity.

This is a big task; no one organization alone can transform teaching and learning to better serve today’s young people. So we work with a growing community of over 200 youth-serving organizations, cultural institutions, city agencies, corporations, foundations, and universities who share a sense of urgency to remake learning in Chicago. The community is also supported through CLX staff infrastructure that networks educators, parents, technologists, and researchers with peer professional learning; ignites educators and organizations through grants, so they can lead solutions to problems; champions the exchange of best practices and stories of remaking learning; equips educators, youth, and families with skills and knowledge of digital learning pathways and badges. CLX’s strength is derived from its community, and together we are working to close gaps in opportunity and engagement for Chicago’s most underserved youth, families, and the educators and organizations who serve them.


CLX is pleased to invite proposals led by organizations that participate in the Hive Chicago Learning Network (Network), LRNG: CHI, and Chicago City of Learning (CCOL). Through this RFP, CLX seeks to close gaps in engagement by providing organizations incentives to create programs or spaces that connect to young people’s interests. We encourage projects to uplift and support the authentic voices, strengths, and cultural context of the audience they seek to serve. Projects should be designed for youth interests, build supportive relationships with educators/adults, or use technologies to promote production and self-expression instead of consumption. For more details on how to design for this approach to learning, see the Connected Learning report.

We are investing in this work by providing organizations with project-based support through Glimmer-level grants (up to $5,000) and Spark-level grants (up to $15,000). Glimmer-level grants support individual organizational experimentation, and Spark-level grants support further testing through piloting or prototyping solutions with partners. Existing programs are eligible if they clearly demonstrate an innovation to programs or spaces. We define innovation as adaptation of existing practices that are new to the innovator or entirely new approaches. CLX cares about all passions that young people might have. Therefore, we will support a variety of topics including but not limited to STE(A)M, civics, fashion, etc.

In this RFP, we issue the following key challenge:

  • Challenge: Create hands-on, engaging programs or spaces that inspire learners to pursue their interests as well as develop skills using digital media tools and technologies. There will be a special emphasis on making, free or open-education resources [i.e. openly licensed text and digital assets], computational thinking, and next-generation technologies [e.g. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality (AR-VR), Artificial Intelligence, etc.].
  • Past project example: Pop Up Youth Radiocreated do-it-yourself (DIY) pop-up youth radio shows in order to amplify youth voice where they live.

We recognize that these resources are modest, but we have consistently been impressed by how small innovations can have a big impact. We will also have future opportunities to advance our work through other RFPs. Future RFPs may include topics such as creating hybrid learning opportunities [i.e. in-person or online] or connecting learning across boundaries through project-based learning [i.e. in-school and out-of-school space], as well as introducing families to hands-on learning. And, from time to time, we will also have specific calls to action like the opportunity below.

Special Opportunity – Youth Digital Media Activism (YDMA)

In collaboration with the Chicago Youth Voices Network (CYVN), the Chicago Learning Exchange is excited to continue to support the Youth Digital Media Activism (YDMA) grant opportunity. Although it’s widely known that civic engagement is connected to the political process, young people are utilizing digital media and technologies to weave storytelling and activism. CLX invites its community and Chicago youth organizing groups to collaborate and redefine the notion of youth civic engagement through civic media and organizing. This support is for project-based grants that bring together youth media creators and youth organizers in order to build relationships and exchange their expertise to address issues within their community. According to the United Nations World Youth Report on Youth Civic Engagement, this form of “media and organizing activism” through the use of digital technologies can help in coordination and amplification of issues.

Within this special opportunity, CLX anticipates supporting four projects with grants up to $10,000 in 2018 Round 2. Priority will be given to new applicants and projects that support alternative forms of civic engagement outside of electoral politics. Please see the eligibility requirements before applying.

Eligibility Requirements

Any nonprofit organizations that participates in Chicago Learning Exchange Programs (i.e. Hive Chicago Learning Network, LRNG: CHI), and Chicago City of Learning (CCOL) is eligible to lead an application. Organizations must work with underserved young people in Chicago, ages 11 – 24, either in-school or out-of-school. Organizations are eligible to apply if they clearly demonstrate an innovation to existing or new programs or spaces. We define innovation as adaptation of existing practices that are new to the innovator or entirely new approaches. All projects should seek to create equitable learning opportunities that ultimately benefit youth who may otherwise have limited access to digital learning opportunities in Chicago.

  • Partnership:
    • Glimmer-level (i.e. up to $5,000): no partnership requirement
    • Spark-level (i.e. up to $15,000): partnerships must be led by an organization that participates in the CLX community, but any Chicago organization may partner on a project
    • *For Youth Digital Media Activism projects, partnership with a CLX community member and youth organizing group is required. 
  • Number of Submissions:
    • We welcome only one application per nonprofit organization whether you’re leading or partnering.
  • Program size* and duration:
    • Glimmer-level (i.e. up to $5,000): a minimum of 6 youth participants
    • Spark-level (i.e. up to $15,000): a minimum of 20 youth participants
    • Past projects have ranged in duration from 6 weeks to 1 year. We ask that projects do not exceed a calendar year.
    • *Please note that CLX only counts direct service as individuals who have participated in programming over time (i.e. not one-day events). Please include one-day participants in indirect service as well as those impacted indirectly.

Funding Priorities

Each proposal will be assessed using the following criteria::

  • The project advances equitable learner-centered practices, which leverage and encourage the active creation of digital media, technology, or web knowledge or products rather than the consumption.
  • The proposal demonstrates: a need that the project will address; research that supports this approach; a strategy to recruit and retain participants; an appropriate work plan and budget; a mutually beneficial partnership (if applicable); and the capacity to manage the project and partners.
  • The project goals and outcomes to be achieved are clearly specified and measurable.
  • The project incorporates authentic youth voice in the programming and strategic planning.
  • The partners plan to “work in the open” by sharing the project development process and outcomes.
  • The project uses free and open-standards based technology and/or Creative Commons license, and will be made available to the public at little or no cost.
  • The project develops 21st Century Skills (i.e. collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, etc., and/or life skills/new literacies (i.e. social and emotional, financial, media, web literacies).
  • CLX does not support one-time events, capital campaigns, programs that provide fees for service, or provide sponsorships through this RFP.

Applying for a Grant

The lead organization completes the application, and if awarded, is responsible for reporting4. All nonprofit project partners who seek direct payment from CLX must complete a partner application. Please use the following link to access lead and partner Application Template.

Please remember to consult the Application FAQ for support on the process. If you have additional questions, please e-mail Sana Jafri at   

Proposal Review Process

All proposals are reviewed by CLX’s Review Committee, which includes but is not limited to its donors and staff. A quantitative rubric as well as qualitative assessments are used in the review process. The Review Committee’s recommendations are reached by consensus, and advance to CLX’s Board of Directors for final approval.


Application Template
Budget Template

Funded Project Requirements

All projects supported through the CLX RFP are expected to participate in the following activities:

  • Participate in funded-project cohort meetings and showcase;
  • Participate in research questionnaires and/or studies;
  • Attend technical assistance training provided by CLX;
  • Exchange project learnings, products, activities, artifacts through Hive meetups and/or CLX blog posts;
  • Enter program data into Chicago City of Learning (CCOL);
  • Document their project process through project portfolio pages and cohort maps.

RFP Timeline

RFP announced at May Meetup May 2018
RFP Released  June 1, 2018
Webinar (optional) June 13, 2018 – 4:00 PM
Proposals Due June 29, 2018
Final Approval by CLX Board August 2018
Award announcements September 10, 2018
Grant Agreements September 2018
Funded Cohort Meeting (required for all grant recipients) October 3, 2018

Final Reports

If your organization is in a funded project or has participated in the past four years (i.e. 2014-2018) as a lead, partner(s), or fiscal agent, we ask that all parties complete and submit grant requirements. All project partners (i.e. lead or partner) who have outstanding portfolio pages and final reports will not receive payment(s) until all past grant requirements are met.

Please note that this rule does not affect an organization’s eligibility to apply for the upcoming RFP. We look forward to receiving your applications.


Chicago Learning Exchange was seeded through generous support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (MacArthur) as part of its Digital Media & Learning program. Current and recent contributors to the Fund include the Illinois Science & Energy Innovation Foundation, MacArthur, McCormick Foundation, Mozilla FoundationSusan Crown Exchange, and The Chicago Community Trust.