Denise Smith Amos, writing for Jacksonville.com, on the decision by the Duval County Public Schools Board—the district is the sixth largest in Florida and the twenty-second largest in the United States—to adopt the EngageNY open educational resources (OER) curriculum for its elementary schools:
Instead of hardback textbooks, Duval’s elementary students will learn math and reading from sheets of paper and other materials downloaded from an online website.
A divided Duval School Board voted last week to adopt the free online program called EngageNY as its main curriculum for elementary reading and math next year, instead of buying new textbooks. The district expects to print out much of the materials.
It’s an unusual step for a major urban district, but it is becoming more common as districts across the country scramble to find good materials that align with tougher academic standards in the national Common Core and Florida’s similar college-ready guidelines.
By downloading materials instead of purchasing textbooks, Duval will save $10 million over two years, he said, while gaining greater assurance that students can meet Florida’s standards.
The Hewlett Foundation supported the development of the EngangeNY materials through a series of grants to the University of the State of New York Regents Research Fund.
Barry Hessenius of the Western States Arts Federation, writing at his blog:
Everywhere today there are articles and media accounts of how the arts play a role in creative aging for seniors, and how that role is helping people growing older to live more interesting, productive, satisfying and fulfilling lives, and how that - plus a range of other intersections between the arts and medical care - is helping elders (and younger people too) maintain better health, recover quicker from health problems, and from surgery and chronic illnesses, and in addressing mental issues from Alzheimer's and dementia to depression and anxiety.
A growing body of preliminary research is confirming what many in the arts sector long intuitively believed - that the engagement with the arts on multiple levels is simply good for the body, mind and soul - in very tangible, practical ways.
The Hewlett Foundation recently co-hosted, with Aroha Philanthropies, a meeting of leaders in the field called Artful Aging: The Transformative Power of Creativity, which Barry mentions in his post.
But, philanthropy, let’s remember, from the Greek, is “love of humanity.” Love is central to philanthropy, by definition. It should be central. That doesn’t mean we should be intellectually lazy in our philanthropy. To the contrary, we should be sharp and smart and full of passion. Strategy and passion are not in opposition to one another. They challenge, reinforce, and strengthen one another. The best argument for strategic philanthropy is perhaps an emotional one—that if we are smarter about how we give, we can help create a world where our children will not be hungry, their reading and math scores will improve and so too their life chances; where the homeless will be stably housed, living with dignity and able to meet their basic human needs; where hate crimes are eliminated and we no longer hear of black men’s lives taken for no reason, or young gay teens committing suicide because of relentless bullying; where art and music is plentiful and enriching; and where, around the globe, rivers and streams are clean and our planet is an altogether healthier place.
CNN profiles Marilyn Price, the founder of Trips for Kids, a grantee of our Environment Program as part of our work Serving Bay Area Communties:
During a 1982 mountain biking trip in northern California, Price reached a point on the trail where she could see all of San Francisco. Looking out at the city, she thought of the children she met while volunteering at a soup kitchen there. And it hit her: She wanted to give them the same experience.
"There's nothing like biking up a mountain and looking behind you to see all you've accomplished," she said.
Price has since helped more than 25,000 at-risk children from the San Francisco Bay Area get off urban streets and into nature through her nonprofit, Trips for Kids.
To celebrate Cesar Chavez Day, we're sharing the story of the School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza, a grantee of our Performing Arts Program. The plaza sits squarely in San Jose's Mayfair, a historically Latino neighborhood where Cesar Chavez grew up and where he led the first of the boycotts for farmworker rights that he organized in the 1960s.
When the plaza was built in 1999, its backers saw it mainly as a performance venue: a "Latino Lincoln Center." A decade later, the city of San Jose decided to make a change, and established the School of Arts and Culture at MHP in 2011 to provide new leadership for the plaza:
The new vision for the plaza focused on arts education—and in particular the traditional arts of Mexico and the Latino diaspora—as a means to help young people grow as individuals, to build important skills like creative problem-solving and collaboration, all while fostering cultural knowledge. “In this community, but I would say throughout most of American culture, we consume the arts—it’s entertainment,” said Lilia Agüero, the school’s director of education. “But here, you can learn to be a maker, and that instills, I think, a sense that you can do things.”
Today, the plaza's classrooms buzz with the sounds of people engaged in creating art—guitar lessons, baile folklórico, ceramics, and painting. Children learn what they are capable of while connecting with their heritage. And the community has a place where its children can be safe, and where it can celebrate art and culture—a refuge in the heart of the neighborhood.
Earlier this month, Fay Twerskey, director of our Effective Philanthropy Group, joined Jacob Harold of Guidestar and Cynthia Figueroa of Congreso de Latinos Unidos for a conversation about the Performance Imperative, an effort to develop a common definition of "high performance" for the nonprofit sector and describe the seven pillars that can help organizations achieve their greatest impact. A recording of the webinar is now available.
Wednesday morning, Hewlett Foundation Program Officer Marc Chun kicked off a day of Deeper Learning selfie—or #DLfie—sharing with the tweet above, and asked others to share what they were doing right now to contribute to deeper learning. Tweets came in from classroooms,
All of which goes to show the tremendous range of places that deeper learning is happening, and the many ways its helping prepare students for college, career, and life. We've pulled together a Storify of some of the best #DLfies, and hope you'll add yours to the mix.
At an event at MIT’s Stata Center, the home of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), with more than 200 students, academics, and industry representatives in attendance, MIT faculty and administrators unveiled three new cybersecurity initiatives, to be housed at CSAIL and the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Funded with a $15 million grant from the Hewlett Foundation, the MIT Cybersecurity Policy Initiative will pool the expertise of researchers at CSAIL, MIT Sloan, the MIT departments of political science and economics, and the Science, Technology, and Society program to better characterize the security dynamics of large networked systems, with the aim of guiding policymakers.
Cybersecurity@CSAIL will provide funding and coordination for the lab’s ongoing research into hardware- and software-based approaches to computer security, while MIT Sloan’s Interdisciplinary Consortium for Improving Critical Infrastructure in Cybersecurity, or (IC)3, will focus on the human element — how organizations can ensure that their employees or volunteers are not creating security vulnerabilities, whether intentionally or not.
Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer spoke recently at the Commonwealth Club of California about the origins of our current political polarization and what the Foundation's Madison Initiative is doing to address it. Audio of his talk is now available.
At Research to Action, a short followup from Ruth Levine, director of our Global Development and Population Program, on the presentation she made at the recent Think Tank Exchange conference in Istanbul:
There are many ways to think about ethical practices in think tanks, but whether the thoughts turn into actions depends on whether the organization has the leadership, appropriate staffing and systems, and financial resources to adhere to the highest standards of transparency and accountability to a range of stakeholders.
My short presentation at the Think Tank Exchange 2015 covered some of the ways in which funding affects the ability of an organization to adhere to ethical practices. It was not intended to offer a comprehensive view of either ethics or funding, but rather to start a conversation about the relationship between the two – and perhaps stimulate thinking within think tanks about changes they might want to make in their relationships with funders.