Jessica Brown

BIF SXL receives $1.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation

We are pleased to announce that the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) has received a $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support work by BIF's Student Experience Lab (SXL) to engage teachers in creating and leading local communities of practice designed to advance teacher practice — particularly as it relates to issues of equity and closing opportunity and achievement gaps.

“I could not be more proud of our team and work at BIF to make transformational change safer and easier to manage. I’m grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its continued support of this important work in our Student Experience Lab,” says BIF Founder and Chief Catalyst Saul Kaplan.

The grant-funded work will address two major issues in education: increasing teacher effectiveness and closing gaps that separate students along racial and cultural lines. In partnership with the Gates Foundation staff, grantees, and partners in key states including Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee, BIF will connect with educators, facilitate development of teacher-led communities of practice, and support the launch of these communities. Educators involved in this work will engage in participatory design to identify structures and mechanisms for fostering collaboration, engaging with issues of equity, and expanding on valuable learning. Through collaboration, peer-led learning, networking, and storytelling, educators will gain valuable tools to create the necessary environments for equity, deeper learning, and student success.

“We call our lab the Student Experience Lab because we believe that the experiences of the stakeholders in any given social system should be at the center of designing new models for that system,” says Sam Seidel, Director of the BIF SXL. “In education, teachers are central stakeholders as well — and they hold enormous expertise and leadership potential when it comes to transforming education. We can’t wait to team up with teachers to tackle racial inequity and explore new models for teacher leadership.”

BIF’s SXL is honored to begin this integral work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Previous collaborations between the Gates Foundation and BIF have led to innovations such as Teachers Design for Education or TD4Ed. Similar to our upcoming work, TD4Ed centers on teachers as leaders for innovation in education. Using the TD4Ed platform, teachers identify problems, define challenges, and develop actionable solutions. By building creative confidence and problem-solving skills, teachers are making positive, measurable changes for their students, schools, and communities.

We look forward to the learning and practices that will be shared among the educators we will work with and the education field.  We’ll share more thoughts and insights about this opportunity in the months to come. Make sure to follow us both on our blog and on Twitter (@BIFsxl) for updates on our progress!

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