The Learning Innovation Fund is the grantmaking arm of Getting Smart Collective that makes innovation investments to ensure equity and access for every learner. 

Big Push for Small Schools: Grants for Microschools

The Fund’s first grant program, A Big Push for Small Schools, is a multi-year initiative aimed at catalyzing innovation and growth in microschool models. These small schools, rooted in a historical tradition of cooperative and small-scale learning, are envisioned to become diverse, sustainable, and impactful alternatives within the educational landscape. The grant program focuses on promoting quality, equity, and accessibility by fostering a network of microschool leaders, providing technical assistance, and offering grants to propel the development of these innovative learning environments. Funding is provided by the Walton Family Foundation. Check out the announcement of our first cohort or learn more about them below.

Theory of Change

For microschools to be a high quality, equitable and sustainable option for all children, schools need technical support, communities of practice, and financial support. The key to scaling and sustainability is informal and formal microschool networks.

About the Cohort

ASU Prep Academy

(Multiple Locations in AZ)

A public charter co-locating within the corporate facility of an industry partner. This model merges a flexible and innovative high school education with real-world industry experience, enabling students to learn in an authentic professional environment.

Da Vinci RISE High

(Los Angeles, CA)

A non-profit designed around the needs of youth experiencing the foster care system, housing instability and/or the juvenile justice system. Through collocating with non-profit organizations and an innovative academic and wraparound services model, RISE provides equity to students most commonly left out of the larger educational narrative.

Ellemercito Academy

(Los Angeles, CA)

A non-profit using first generation teachers to serve high needs K-12 learners. They offer real-world, highly personalized, and transformative education with an experiential, trauma-informed, and holistic learning approach.

Gem Prep Online

(Multiple Locations in ID)

Offers Learning Societies in rural communities providing flexible, high-quality, public charter education options. These in-person, small-group learning hubs are designed to each serve 30-40 students in grades K-12 with online learning activities including academic support, group projects, and social time with friends.

Issaquah School District

(Issaquah, WA)

Opening multiple microschools within their public high schools to provide hybrid learning opportunities for students, especially those showing signs of school disengagement and early at-risk indicators of failing. With hands-on and real world experience, students will learn through 6-8 week interdisciplinary Design Labs.

Learner-Centered Collaborative

(Vista, CA)

Partnering with three Southern California school districts, with each hosting either an elementary, middle or high school microschool. Shifting away from traditional grade levels and departments to create more learner-centered, flexible, and inclusive learning environments, they will focus on promoting learner agency, social and emotional wellness, and personalized learning experiences.

The PPHS Lab High School

(Indianapolis and South Bend, IN)

Uses state funding and operates in partnership with industry and community members. Their growth plans include scaling to serve 40 students in 2024-2025, with the intention of replicating upon demonstrating model efficacy and viability.

Rooted School Foundation

(New Orleans, LA) 

Using state funds for their microschools and following their Rooted School charter school model, with students on a radically accelerated track to increase their upward mobility upon graduation. The microschools will be focused on industry pathways especially global IT and cybersecurity for the first microschool.

Science Prep Academy

(Phoenix, AZ)

A program of The Neurodiversity Education Research Center (NERC) that offers an ESA-funded microschool interdisciplinary STEM education for neurodivergent youth from grades 6 to 13. This inclusive model teams with Banner Medical Center for an ESA-funded grade 13 internship experience combined with employability and independent-living skills training to help young neurodivergent students transition into productive adult life.

The Early IT Microschool Powered by PAST

(Columbus, OH)

A microschool  powered by the PAST Foundation and will serve 100 economically disadvantaged, traditionally underserved and first-generation college-going students. Serving grades 9-12, it will prepare them for STEM employment,  with the opportunity to explore their interests in information technology and related careers.

More Details

In addition to grantmaking, this project will also include knowledge creation, research, and community engagement. Through compelling storytelling, case studies, and community conversations, the campaign aims to amplify awareness of microschools’ potential, while also developing practical tools and resources for prospective school developers. A dedicated Community of Practice will also provide a platform for microschool leaders to collaborate, problem-solve and share insights. For more information on microschools, visit the Getting Smart microschool series page.

Upcoming Opportunities: Cohort 2

We will be announcing our second cohort for the 2024-25 school year soon! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get all the information about the new cohort and stay updated on the new community of practice strands.

Have Questions? Visit our FAQ

If you have any questions in the meantime, please visit our FAQ section. We’ve compiled a list of common queries to provide you with quick answers. Thank you again for your interest and dedication to innovation in education.

Designing Microschools: Why Launching Small Learning Environments Is a Big Idea

This resource from Getting Smart provides examples of microschools and addresses why you’d want to start a microschool, how to start a microschool and how to know if it is working.

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