For the sixth year in a row, Steelcase Education will award up to 10 grant recipients with the furniture, tools and on-site services to create an Active Learning Center at their institution. All educational 30-seat classrooms are eligible, from K-12 to colleges and universities.

Interested? Of course you are! Not sure how to make your application stand out? Red Thread is here to help.

Where do I start?

If you’re looking for a classroom featuring new furniture, design and installation, AND support services for professional learning and organizational transformation (new this year), you’ll want to have a strong application.

Here are some first-and-foremost important tips to getting you one step closer:

  • Meet the deadline
    • Submit your proposal by February 3, 2020 11:59 PM PST (no extensions)
  • Make sure you qualify
    • This might sound obvious, but be sure to read this proposal guide for more information to make sure you meet all foundational criteria
  • Don’t exceed word limits
    • Most of your responses will have a 300-word limit. Be concise with your answers and get straight to the point, with supporting details.
  • Focus on formal, instructor-managed learning in proposed classroom
    • An example of this is a STEM environment, but really any learner centric environments will work
  • Robust plans for completion of research
    • This also includes a well-reasoned description of anticipated impact and student success should you receive the grant (one of the most important questions)
  • Clear plans to disseminate learnings over 2-year grant cycle
    • How will you spread the word both internally and externally?
  • Interest in and capacity for future active learning and spaces based on grant-funded experiences
    • You should explain how you think Steelcase can help you grow

Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens

Kim Pereira, Ed. D., Interim Director of the Capabilities Approach Program/Grants and Foundations Officer for The Ethel Walker School alongside Bimal Balakrishnan, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Dept. of Architectural Studies; Director, Immersive Visualization Lab for University of Missouri have provided their suggestions to applicants.

Coming from a private, college preparatory, boarding and day school for girls in grades 6 through 12 plus postgraduate located in Simsbury, Connecticut, Pereira’s advice centers around preparation and collaboration. She focused on including smaller details that people might overlook, for example:

  • Who would be using the room over the two-year period? Who would be managing the room in terms of teaching?
  • What’s the best approach to analysis for our school? How can we use teacher journaling as a part of our research design and method?
  • Even though we’re a small school, what unique advantages do we bring to the table? Would a ribbon-cutting ceremony reach external audiences?
  • What is the number of people that would be affected if we were to receive the grant?
  • Is our leadership team on board and supportive?

Representing Missouri’s most comprehensive public research university, Balakrishnan’s advice is similar, but also very different. He focused on visuals and how all the pieces would fit together, for example:

  • What is our primary mission? How do the mechanics of active learning play out and in what ways do our team’s skills complement each other?
  • How can we conduct the best field experiment? What role will surveys play in our research method and how can we make observations?
  • Is there a way to speak at an international conference we usually attend about this experience should we receive the grant?
  • How can we incorporate a roadmap or diagram for any answers to make it more visually pleasing?
  • Should we highlight the special expertise each team member brings?

While each had a different approach to the application, they both have received the grant in year’s past. With just a few weeks away from the deadline, we hope you find this useful and informative as you consider applying for the Active Learning Center Grant. Start your application here.

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