As you may have heard, HundrED has selected Pittsburgh, USA for its latest Spotlight. HundrED Spotlights are in-depth collections of 10 innovations that focus on a location or theme in education. Spotlights explore each location or theme thoroughly to provide deep insight into educational innovation in the Spotlight area, and then share those insights with the world. So why is HundrED shining a spotlight on Pittsburgh? Let’s get to know a little more about the Pittsburgh region and see what makes it a hub for education innovation.
Pittsburgh was forged in steel, and reborn in technology
Located in the southwestern corner of the state of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities in the region played an important role in the American industrial boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As the heart of America's steel industry, Pittsburgh gained the nickname "Steel City." But following the decline of the manufacturing industries, Pittsburgh has reinvented itself as a city powered by education, healthcare, and technology.
Today, commuters in Pittsburgh share the road with autonomous vehicles. Robotics companies partner with hospitals to advance the frontiers of medicine. And advanced manufacturing is using technology to bring the region’s manufacturing legacy into the future. As Pittsburgh prepares for the future, regional educators are dedicated to preparing Pittsburgh’s young people to flourish.
For a small city, Pittsburgh boasts some serious academic chops
The city of Pittsburgh has only about 300,000 residents (with a regional population of about 3 million), but it’s home to more than 29 colleges and universities. The University of Pittsburgh is an internationally recognized public institution and center of learning and research known for its medical breakthroughs. Carnegie Mellon University is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs that include arts, technology, business, and public policy.
Pittsburgh’s colleges and universities regularly partner with local school districts, museums, and learning spaces to do research about teaching and learning, and to develop tools and technologies to facilitate learning.
Meanwhile, six school districts in the Pittsburgh region are members of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, a coalition of forward-thinking school districts across the United States selected through a peer-reviewed application process.
In Pittsburgh, learning happens everywhere
Learning in Pittsburgh doesn’t just happen in school. Over the past decade, the region has seen an intentional effort to connect children and families with spaces and places to learn after school, on the weekends, and in the summer. Pittsburgh’s museums, libraries, community centers, and churches offer programs and spaces dedicated to learning and development. Much of the learning innovation happening here in Pittsburgh, from research about makerspaces to programming to help young people raise their voice, is led by out-of-school educators.
Dedicated philanthropic efforts fuel innovation here
Local foundations and national funders have recognized that the circumstances in Pittsburgh make it a fertile ground for education innovation. In the past ten years, millions of philanthropic dollars have been directed to universities, schools, museums, nonprofits, and community organizations to pilot new ideas and take the ones that are working to scale. This long-term commitment nurtures a growing community of education innovators.
A local network catalyzes education innovations with impact and scale
These factors all come together in Remake Learning, a professional network of educators and innovators working together to shape the future of teaching and learning in the Pittsburgh region.
Representing more than 500 organizations, including early learning centers, schools, museums, libraries, afterschool programs, community nonprofits, colleges, universities, ed-tech startups, major employers, foundations, and civic leaders, Remake Learning ignites engaging, relevant, and equitable learning practices in support of young people navigating rapid social and technological change.
The power of this network is the power of connections. Ed-tech startups partner with afterschool programs to ensure that the tools they develop are academically rigorous and relevant to children’s needs. Regional employers and schools connect to ensure that students are prepared for their futures. University researchers work with libraries to explore how children learn and grow. Nonprofits and foundations join forces to help increase families’ access to resources.
These connections make Pittsburgh a special place for education innovation. The HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh is an opportunity to elevate what’s happening in the region.
Check back here for regular updates from the Pittsburgh team as the Spotlight progresses. Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #hundredPGH.
And if you’re in the Pittsburgh region and interested in being a part of the Spotlight, get started on the Pittsburgh Spotlight page.
Photo: Joey Kennedy for Remake Learning