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William & Flora Hewlett Foundation: Deeper Learning + Diffusion of Innovation and Scaled Impact

Deadline: June 16, 2017

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s grantmaking focuses on ensuring the education system is oriented towards enabling students of all backgrounds, especially those who are most underserved, to graduate prepared to transfer their knowledge, skills, and dispositions to solve the novel and unstructured problems they will face in future work and citizenship. The Foundation works to align K-12 schools in the U.S. to deliver and measure deeper learning, defined as:

Cognitive competencies: Working with knowledge and ideas, including:

  • Mastering rigorous academic content
  • Learning how to think critically and solve problems

Interpersonal competencies: Working with others, including:

  • Working collaboratively
  • Communicating effectively

Intrapersonal competencies: Working with oneself, including:

  • Learning how to learn
  • Developing and maintaining an academic or learning mindset

The Foundation aims to understand how to remove systemic barriers in K-12 schools, as well as to understand how deeper learning practices most quickly spread and have outsized effects, so that all students have equitable access to these practices which enable their success in a changing world. With this grant, Hewlett aims to contribute to the theory and knowledge base about how to achieve scaled social impact. The Foundation seeks to understand and test hypotheses about how to spread deeper learning practices in school systems that serve students who are farthest from opportunity (e.g., students of color, students from communities of poverty, and recent immigrants) and to achieve spread in the range of school systems (e.g., large and small; urban, suburban and rural; variability in resource levels) across the country.

The Foundation expects applicants to address and apply the following concepts to their proposed work:

  • Demand for the innovation/deeper learning
  • Key attributes, including advantages, compatibility, simplicity, ability to be trialed, and observability
  • Understanding of the complexity of the system and clarity about manageable changes
  • Behavior change

The Foundation aims to generate new knowledge that helps strengthen scientific theory-building among researchers as well as practical, action-oriented knowledge that can support the strategic spread of practices among practitioners and the funders and policymakers who set the conditions for practitioner action. Research questions include:

  • What are effective approaches to diffuse a deeper learning practice to reach scaled impact in a school system?
  • What is the right “grain size” for a deeper learning practice to diffuse in a school system and have scaled impact? What design features or characteristics must this practice have?
  • How can school systems design and implement efforts to diffuse a deeper learning practice in a way that supports equitable student outcomes?
  • What conditions in a school system enable and hinder the diffusion of a deeper learning practice? These conditions might include system-wide policies, governance structures, leadership, and staffing models, among others.
  • What is the minimum level of resources that a school system must have to achieve scaled impact? How can a school system invest 2x more resources and have 100x more students achieve deeper learning outcomes?
  • Which elements of a deeper learning practice are essential for diffusion to happen in any given school system? Which elements can be adapted to the context in a school system?
  • To what extent and in which ways do the Rogers attributes (described above) contribute to or explain scaled impact in different kinds of school systems?

The ultimate focus of this grant portfolio is to use practical, empirical work in school systems to develop new knowledge about scaled impact. Thus, the Foundation’s emphasis will be on research that tests hypotheses and contributes to knowledge-building about how to scale deeper learning practices in school systems that is both useful to the research community in building theory as well as practitioners who will contribute to the work of spread in their systems as well as others.

Amount: Up to $5,000,000 is available for the first round of grants.

Eligibility: Only researcher-practice partnerships are eligible. Partnerships must include a researcher or research organization with relevant and demonstrated expertise on diffusion of innovations and/or scaled impact, a practitioner focused support organization with extensive experience developing and/or helping school systems implement new practices to achieve deeper learning, and a school system committed to deeper learning and willing to diffuse a deeper learning practice across its schools.

Eligible school systems must enroll about 25,000 or more students, of which at least 60% must be high needs students.

Applicants may be located in any area of the U.S., but proposals from California, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Virginia are especially encouraged.

Link: http://www.hewlett.org/request-letters-interest-deeper-learning-scaled-impact/

Note: This deadline is for a letter of intent. Hewlett will invite selected applicants to a mandatory scaled impact workshop at Hewlett offices in Menlo Park, CA, which will take place August 7-8, 2017. Full proposals by selected applicants will be due September 1, 2017.

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