Spark an Interest; Ignite a Passion: 2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge Kicks Off with 10 National Awards

Teacher-led innovation to help youth connect learning that happens in and out of school.

Berkeley, CA, May 1, 2017 — The third annual LRNG Innovators Challenge invited educators to imagine learning experiences that help young people spark their interests and ignite passions. With support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John Legend's Show Me Campaign, and the National Writing Project (NWP), 10 grantees have been selected based on their proposed programs, curricula, or projects that actively help youth discover these interests connecting the spheres of their lives, both in and out of school, and provide for potential future opportunities.

In announcing the winners, singer/songwriter and co-founder John Legend said, "Passionate and innovative teachers changed my life and instilled in me a lifelong passion for education and learning. I'm inspired by the dedication of the teachers and the breadth of the projects we've selected to receive this year's grants."

The LRNG Innovators Challenge is grounded in the idea that young people benefit from opportunities to follow their interests with the support of peers and mentors who give them the time and space to create work that is meaningful to them. Over the next 15 months, LRNG Innovators grantees will develop, pilot, and share promising teacher-powered strategies and solutions to see beyond classroom walls to a future where learning knows no bounds or borders. Throughout the design process, these educators will benefit from co-founder NWP's deep experience supporting teacher leadership through local and national networks.

"Every day, teachers think through how they can build on and direct students' interests toward more powerful learning," stated Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, NWP executive director. "The LRNG Innovators Challenge allows us to invest directly in teachers who can develop promising approaches that can be spread across the country."

The LRNG Innovators Challenge is designed to create support systems that empower teachers to redesign learning. It exists alongside the LRNG platform, which connects youth interests to digital experiences and learning opportunities in their own cities. Powered by Collective Shift, the LRNG platform will include Innovators programs, adapted into digital playlists, that teachers, practitioners, and organizations can then adopt for use in their own communities.

To learn more about LRNG Innovators and the funded projects, visit

A full list of grantees is provided below.

Year 3 LRNG Innovators Award Recipients

  • Restoring Race Cars, Restoring Relevance | Grass Valley, CA
  • Linked Learning with Maker-Centered Education | Oakland, CA
  • Making a Future for All: Connecting Passion to Profession | Owingsville, KY
  • Project Make it Happen | Northville, MI
  • OneCity Stories: Multimedia Composing for St. Louis Youth | St. Louis, MO
  • Green is the New Pink: Young Women Environmentalists in Action | Oxford, MS
  • Philly School Media Network | Philadelphia, PA
  • Social Innovation Leadership Sabbatical | Antioch, TN
  • Choice and Voice: Agency and Audience in a Resilient Rural Texas Community |
    Bastrop, TX
  • Let 'Em Shine | Charlottesville, VA

LRNG aims to close the opportunity gap and transforms how young people access and experience learning and the paths they can take to success. Working together with schools, city leaders, businesses and community institutions such as libraries and museums, LRNG is building an ecosystem of learning that combines in-school, out-of-school, employer-based and online learning experiences into a seamless network that is open and inviting to all youth.


May 01, 2017

Media Contact

National Writing Project