Crate & Barrel shoppers might be surprised to learn that the colorful new bedding set on display in the store was designed by a 5th-grader, but in a unique school-community partnership, the store worked with nonprofit Fresh Artists to turn artwork made by students in the Philadelphia and Camden, NJ, areas into a line of sheets, quilts, pillows and other bedding accessories, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In turn, the low-income schools participating in the program will receive financial contributions and support for art supplies and programming.
- Fifth- through 9th-graders from the schools were nominated, interviewed and selected to work with designers from the store, who gave them a theme to guide their creations, and the program’s founder says the experience is designed to make students aware of how the products they use are created, and to encourage them to work hard in school.
Partnerships between teachers and community organizations can enhance the curriculum in a variety of ways. But involving students as active participants in those partnerships can lead to even deeper learning and give students a glimpse into possible career pathways.
In another example, Florida middle school submitted designs for a makerspace cart when a teacher formed a connection with a representative from a classroom furniture design company. “Consider hosting a video conference with someone in an industry related to your challenge,” media specialist Diana Rendina wrote in School Library Journal. ”Find out if there are any parents or community members in related professions (engineers, scientists, artists, etc.) who might be willing to come in and give your students feedback.”
Finally, some students are already running their own e-commerce businesses — or education corporations — with the support of Real World Scholars, a nonprofit that provides startup funds and helps with details like taxes, banking and shipping supplies. With more school leaders focusing on ways to increase student engagement, it’s likely that the demand will increase for such organizations that can match students with authentic entrepreneurial and creative opportunities.