A Note to Our Partners in Digital Media and Learning
June 23, 2015 | Grantee News | Digital Media & Learning, Digital Media & Learning Competition, Digital Media & Learning Research

Over the past 10 years, we have had the privilege of working with an extraordinary and ground-breaking set of partners to build the Digital Media and Learning field. You are those partners, and collectively you have accomplished much: a new approach to pedagogy through Connected Learning; a new paradigm for civic engagement in the 21st century; engaging and motivating support for teachers, librarians, and other educators who want to be innovators; diverse innovation through competitions; the global phenomenon of Hive Learning Networks; the burgeoning reality of open badges; new schools; extensive, seminal research; and much more. We want to acknowledge and thank you for all of this.

We now turn our attention to the task of securing the legacy of this extraordinary work and promoting its long-term sustainability and scale. It has become clear to us that the promise of Digital Media and Learning has grown well beyond MacArthur. Bringing Connected Learning innovations, its principles, practices and products to scale quickly will require new partners—public and private—for a wide range of purposes. Scale and sustainability will require new levels and new types of investment. The challenges Connected Learning aims to address and the scale it requires in order to transform learning ecosystems across the country demand more resources than MacArthur alone can provide. It may also require more robust operational engagement than is our practice.

We believe that the best way to achieve these goals is to experiment with a new organizational model that can attract a more diverse set of partners and investors, explore alternative funding models and mechanisms, and accommodate a more entrepreneurial and innovative approach to philanthropy. The Foundation is creating a new organization to scale Connected Learning; this organization will launch in the fall and you will be hearing more about it in the coming months. Connie will be stepping down soon as the Director of Education at MacArthur to lead this organization.

Finally, to help secure the legacy of your work and bridge it to the new ecosystem for learning that the organization will support, MacArthur will be making a set of grants to support key communities and partners. Grants to support teachers, out of school practitioners, research, policy advocacy, and a final Digital Media and Learning competition will be announced shortly.

Jennifer Humke and Tawa Mitchell will remain at the Foundation as program staff responsible for the Digital Media and Learning portfolio. Julia is also available at any time to respond to your questions and comments.

At a time when MacArthur is taking major steps to change the way we work to achieve even greater impact, we are excited about the opportunity to dramatically scale up Connected Learning in new and creative ways. We hope that even stronger collaboration and greater innovation in the field will come as a result of it. We look forward to sharing more information in the fall. Again, we are eternally grateful for your contributions to the field of Digital Media and Learning, and for your help in realizing this new vision for truly transformative change.


Julia Stasch
President, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Connie Yowell
Director of Education, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

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