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00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f7707e000090.5 WESA's Life of Learning series focuses on learning and education activities, opportunities and challenges in the Greater Pittsburgh area.This multi-year commitment to providing learning-focused news coverage in southwestern Pennsylvania is made possible by a generous grant from the Grable Foundation.

Pittsburgh: A Hive of Learning Innovation

The Pittsburgh region will continue as a “Hive Network.”

The MacArthur Foundation, which selected Pittsburgh in February as just the third “hive” in the nation, following New York and Chicago, has re-authorized and funded the project for another two years.

The goal of the Hive Network is to expand learning for young people beyond schools to museums, libraries, afterschool programs and community centers. Participating organizations offer programs to engage youth in learning based on their interests.

“It is all of the innovative programs that are occurring in and out of school that are harnessing the tools and technologies that meet kids where they are, that build on the basics and prepare them with the critical skills and opportunities that they will need to succeed in life,” said Cathy Lewis Long, executive director of the Sprout Fund, which administers the Pittsburgh Hive Network.

Long announced the reauthorization of the Hive at the annual assembly of the Kids+Creativity Network, a collaboration of organizations working together to remake learning for children in the Pittsburgh area.

She said the innovative, creative approaches to connecting kids with learning aren’t always high tech. 

“Innovation isn’t necessarily tied to technology; it’s tied to the practice,” Long said. "So whether it’s a practice of making, whether it’s art or high tech or low tech, it’s really about the learning opportunity and the outcomes you’re getting for youth that’s making it innovative.”

According to Long the Kids+Creativity Network sparked more than 60 innovative learning projects in 2013, and for the coming year she wants to strengthen “learning pathways in communities." 

“You can have a strong learning opportunity within a school that is continued into the museum, into the library, online, into a conversation in your home with a caring adult—really that connected learning experience where academics, peer and social networks and interests really come together to create deeper learning,” Long said.

Long said the combined efforts of education leaders, learning researchers, artists, roboticists and out-of-school program providers are vital.

“Learning doesn’t stop at three o’clock," she said. "Learning is anywhere, anytime, and it takes all the assets of a community to really contribute to good learning outcomes for young children.”