The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will give $5.45 million in grants to teams of educators and researchers working to inspire students’ curiosity and help them develop self-direction. Nine teams will receive grants between $425,000 to $650,000 for local projects and to participate in a multi-year initiative to strengthen connections between schools, communities and educators, according to a press release.
The initiative, launched in August 2019, builds on CZI’s efforts to expand the definition of students’ success to include physical, mental, cognitive, identity, social and emotional development. The idea behind the Comprehensive Student Development program is that youth should transition to adulthood with the knowledge, skills and habits to thrive in the rapidly changing world.
To reach these goals, CZI advocates that teachers be equipped with tools and practices to support their students.
The teams awarded the grants include the Black Teacher Collaborative, which focuses on supporting teacher practices and attitudes that have a positive impact on black students’ self-direction, curiosity and academic tenacity.
Another team is the Self-Direction through Citizens of the World’s Learning Fellowship, led by Citizens of the World Charter Schools in Los Angeles and Kansas City, Missouri, which will examine the impact of peer-mentoring and structured curriculum on students’ self-direction and curiosity in grades 6-8.
The Nez Perce STEP Evaluation Project, meanwhile, will receive a grant to explore the impact of culturally responsive teaching practices on student engagement through the Nez Perce STEP program, which trains teachers on culturally competent pedagogy and effective family engagement practices.
The remaining teams include:
- Asset-Based Dialogic Teaching to Promote Curiosity and Self-Direction (University of Arizona College of Education and Tucson Magnet, Cholla and Pueblo High Schools in Arizona).
- The Role of Enhanced Mindfulness Practices for Educators in Promoting Self-Direction (New Village Girls Academy, University of California Los Angeles, and University of Southern California).
- Land-Based Learning to Support the Whole Child (Native American Community Academy in New Mexico).
- Strategic Literacy Initiative (Los Angeles' Environmental Charter Schools network and WestEd’s Strategic Literacy Initiative).
- Integrating Student-Led Assessment Practice and Self-Regulated Learning Research (Battelle for Kids, George Mason University and Viriginia's Frederick County Public Schools).
- Student-Driven Learning Through Classroom Discourse (Boston Debate League, the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development, and the Henderson Inclusion School).
As the demands on students evolve, experts say it's important to find ways to support students' social-emotional skills, as well as their academic growth. Westgate Community School in Thornton, Colorado, for example, found a solution by implementing a peer-mentoring program when the school district struggled with a shortage of counselors. The program trained students in basic counseling and mentoring skills so they could develop supportive relationships with peers who needed extra help. The practice freed up professional counselors to assist those with more complex issues.