Ani Martinez is the Community Manager for Remake Learning. While her role with Remake Learning is new, it’s not completely foreign territory. As part of the Community Building team at The Sprout Fund for more than three years, Ani cultivated connections between partners across different sectors, cities, and disciplines.

In her new role, Ani is bringing these experiences to bear as she brings diverse partners together in interesting ways to positively impact the lives of children. Whether she’s fostering collaboration between city officials and local research labs to teach kids about heart pumps or sourcing funds for technology upgrades needed by STEAM initiatives, Ani works with a constant focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

 

Tell us about your new position and how it came to be created:

Ani Martinez: In a nut shell, my job is to assist anyone looking for help getting involved in the Remake Learning Network, or just looking to deepen their engagement. I also coordinate all of the Remake Learning events for the year. As Remake Learning focuses on better equity and inclusion, it felt important to have someone designated to reach out and make intentional connections with folks who might not feel invited to the conversation. For example, it’s been interesting to listen and learn about the differences within the conversation on STEAM in West Virginia, what learning innovation looks like in rural school districts.

I love, love, love being a guest at other people’s programming or events, to learn and listen and just be present. This new role brings an exciting opportunity to hear what communities and networks are doing.

 

You were recently recognized by Mozilla as one of the top 50 people on the globe working to make the Internet a better place. What does this honor mean for you and for your work?

AM: That acknowledgement came as a surprise. Mozilla facilitates Hive Learning Networks in other cities and does a lot of network building. I’ve helped them to build web literacy curriculum, which is a major branch of their work right now. I consider myself to be an Internet activist, and it was a great honor to be recognized.

It’s a huge opportunity to put the work we’re doing in this region through a global lens. I’m interested in what cities and regions can learn from each other. I know cities are thinking about how to connect learning opportunities across geographic areas. New perspectives about how to be more inclusive help a more diverse group of people understand how and why the Internet should be treated as a utility.

 

Tell us more about why digital equity is relevant to Remake Learning as a whole:

AM: Throughout the network, we hear conversations about digital literacy and STEAM—early learning tools and programs in particular—that are being implemented in affluent and often exclusively white organizations. We aren’t seeing black and brown communities or communities that are less affluent (like rural communities) implementing technology to enhance learning in the same way or at the same rate.

Thinking about equity means thinking about access to tools—the Internet—but also about being more receptive to how those tools are being used for learning or social justice or civic engagement or creativity and imagination. Being able to see the value in how using those tools for learning in those contexts is happening—that’s a big part of digital equity.

Access is one of the most pressing issues in terms of changing the way people are learning. Who can’t participate? Who is shut out from our society? Things like online job applications or even finding out when the bus is coming—these are quality of life pieces that many of our citizens don’t have access to. Having access to information in a rapidly changing, information-based economy is very, very important. We need more people to advocate for this, especially for young people.

 

What do you think the priorities of Remake Learning will be going forward?

AM: We have made equity a major priority in everything we’re doing, from the planning stage onward. That means we have to actively voice when we’re seeing things that are not equitable, sometimes even us as facilitators and organizers. We need to make sure we’re listening to different voices and empowering them to have the resources to make learning opportunities happen for them, run by them, led by members of their community so that it’s not one organization going in and doing things for someone and saying, “we see a problem and we’re going to fix it for you.” That’s not sustainable; it’s wrong and causes damage. Our work will be continuing to expand our network and making sure it’s healthy and that all groups of people feel they are represented, valued, and welcome. I want to make sure people have a seat at the table, not just as participants but as leaders.