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MacArthur Foundation gives $500,000 for New Educational Approach in Pittsburgh

The MacArthur Foundation is awarding a $500,000 grant to create a Pittsburgh Hive Learning Network. The grant will be administered by the Sprout Fund. A Hive is a network of organizations including schools, museums, libraries, afterschool programs, community centers who collaborate to create new learning experiences. Sprout Program Officer Ryan Coon said the Hive is not a physical space.

"It's a program that supports activities in many places. Hive supported activities will occur at the museum, or at the Carnegie Library. It's a mechanism to support new learning activities."

It supports those activities by funding the projects, and providing network service that connects people working in different sectors so they can collaborate.

"Teachers working together with artists, working together with technology directors," said Coon.

Coon says an example of an activity that could come out of the project would be the Labs at Carnegie Library.

"The Labs is expanding what a library does and what its function is to include various media arts, access to media making technology - whether that's music, or animation, or programing. And the Hive would be mechanism to support the afterschool program or summer camp that would occur at a place like the Labs."

Pittsburgh is the third city to receive a grant to create the Hive, New York City and Chicago also have Hive Learning Networks. Coon said the big idea behind the Hive is an educational approach called Connected Learning.

"Connected Learning works to try and unite the three zones of children's life that maybe haven't been so connected in the past. So that would be their academics - what they do in school, their peer networks - what they do when they're hanging out with their friends, and their own personal interest - their hobbies and passions. And the idea behind Connected Learning is that if you can support children's experiences in each of these three sectors, that they work together instead of against one another, or are disconnected from one another, that may create a more robust learning experience."

Sprout will host a workshop February 25 for those interested in applying for the first round of grants. The deadline for grants will be in April and the initial round of projects should be up and running this summer. The Pittsburgh Network includes all of southwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and West Virginia. More information can be found at