On the afternoon of Monday, February 25th, more than 60 individuals seeking to reimagine learning for youth, tweens, and teens in the Greater Pittsburgh Region gathered at the Children’s Home for The Sprout Fund’s “Funding for Connected Learning” Information Session.

Furtive glances of creative inspiration were exchanged as audience members considered how Connected Learning and 21st century literacies can be infused into their programs. Mac Howison, Program Officer of Catalytic Funding, provided a foundation for attendees’ thinking on Connected Learning, a framework that reimagines the learning experiences of young people–connecting the 3 spheres of life that matter most to them–their peer culture, their interests, and their academics. Connected Learning provides for more engaging and relevant learning experiences that prepare today’s youth for college, the workforce, and the citizenship in our democracy.

Through investments totaling more than 100 million dollars, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is driving innovation and building communities of practice around Connected Learning. With a MacArthur Foundation investment now here in Pittsburgh, Sprout is excited to offer grants and awards on an ongoing basis to support Connected Learning through Hive funding at The Sprout Fund.

Projects best-suited to Hive support will be proposing new and innovative approaches to learning that build connections and provide hand-offs between the people, projects, and organizations in the Kids+Creativity Network. The primary funding opportunity will be regular bi-monthly rounds offering grants of up to $15,000 for Connected Learning projects, programs, and initiatives targeting tweens, teens, and young adults.

The first deadline for 2013 is Friday, April 5 at 5pm. Subsequent rounds will be held every other month throughout the remainder of the year and throughout 2014. To learn more about Hive funding visit: www.sproutfund.org/hive/.

Before the lively question and answer session, Mac Howison informed attendees that Sprout provides additional support services for prospective applicants including the Catalytic Funding Workshop on Friday, March 8th from noon-1pm at Sprout’s offices and a Working Breakfast at the Porch on Saturday, March 23rd from 9am-11am at The Porch in Schenley Plaza.

While submitting a successful application for funding may have been the chief motivator for the crowd of educators, artists, scientists, principals, superintendents, and after school coordinators, there was also high interest in Sprout’s unique set of extended support services. These services include events & collaborations, communications & documentation, and outreach which extends to all members and prospective members of the Kids+Creativity Network.

The Funding for Catalytic Funding Information Session ended as attendees enthusiastically shared their ideas with one another and brainstormed possible avenues for collaboration. Sprout is excited to learn more about the many smart and engaging project ideas for Connected Learning that are being developed and eagerly awaits the April 5th funding deadline.