“Imagine what it would look like if all our schools were set up to help youth discover
and pursue their passions instead of guiding them along a predictable path.”

—John Legend


Spark an Interest; Ignite a Passion:
The 2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge

LRNG Innovators began in 2014 and is now launching its third challenge, inviting educators to imagine engaging ways to help young people explore their interests, thereby igniting a passion that can lead to college, to a career, or a positive impact in the community. We seek proposals for programs, curricula, or projects that actively help youth discover interests connecting the spheres of their lives, both in and out of school, and provide potential future opportunities. For example, how do we help a child identify and link a passion for videogames to math and science, and later a career as a video game developer? The possibilities are endless.

Proposals should be led by teams of teachers, but will benefit from collaboration between other educators and community leaders who work with youth in learning-­centered institutions like museums, libraries, and afterschool programs, where interests are often activated.

Connected Learning research demonstrates that all young people benefit from opportunities to follow their interests with the support of peers and mentors and that give them the time and space to create work that is meaningful to them. With support from the National Writing Project, John Legend’s Show Me Campaign, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Collective Shift (lrng.org), the LRNG Innovators Challenge supports teams of educators in designing, testing, and sharing solutions that build the future of creative and connected learning today.

If you and your colleagues are up to the challenge, start your application today! Deadline: March 16, 2017.

Questions? Review our FAQ or email educatorinnovator@nwp.org. You may also want to review the rubric and/or our application resources

Download a PDF of this entire application.


Details & Eligibility

Successful proposals should be led by teams of teachers based in school/s and can benefit from collaboration between teachers and educators who work with youth in other learning-­centered institutions. Proposals should use the Connected Learning framework to develop innovations that spark interests and develop passions while describing replicable interventions that have high potential for spread to other contexts, schools, and communities. The most successful programs will likely engage youth in planning and implementing the program in some way.

Proposals must include team members who can ensure that the team’s ideas can be implemented, such as a school or district administrator, and members who can connect the team to an appropriate fiscal agent to accept and manage the LRNG Innovation Challenge grant.

2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge grants are $20,000 each. If the proposal is successful, the award of grant funds will be issued through a contract to the educational institution (e.g., K–­12 school or district or a local National Writing Project site at a host university), or a nonprofit organization or local community foundation that signs off on the proposal as the fiscal agent for the project. Grants cannot be awarded to individuals, for-­profit companies, or organizations not based in the United States.

A Contracting Officer from the fiscal agent organization and a key school administrator will be required to sign off on the proposal.

Important dates for the 2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge include:

  • Applications Due: March 16, 2017, 11:59 p.m. PST
  • Awards Announced: May 1, 2017
  • Period of Performance: June 1, 2017 through August 31, 2018
  • Final Report Due: September 30, 2018

Questions? Review our FAQs or email us at educatorinnovator@nwp.org.

Download a PDF of this entire application.

Constructing a Narrative

To apply for this grant, prepare responses to the following narrative questions, using the template (Word). Once your responses are prepared, paste your responses into the application system text boxes (note that the system does not accept special formatting; please prepare your responses with basic text formatting). To support your work, we encourage you to learn more about the LRNG Innovators Challenges and designing for Connected Learning: Proposals will be evaluated by a panel comprised of educators from around the country and LRNG partner representatives. This review will be based on the criteria in this downloadable review rubric (PDF).

Innovation Through Connected Learning
  1. How will your project engage young people in exploring their interests and igniting their passions?
  2. In what ways will your project help youth connect the spheres of their lives, both in and outside of school?
  3. How will your project help young people discover how their interests might lead to further opportunities?
  1. In what ways does this solution to the Challenge have high potential for spread to other contexts, schools, and communities?
  2. What resources will you create that will help other educators learn from your experiences and create similar solutions to the Challenge?
  1. Where will this work happen? Describe your school and community, including demographic information and any special features of the school, students, or community that relate to the proposed idea.
  2. How does your proposal attend to issues of access and equity within your particular context?
  1. Who will be involved? Describe the team that will work on the project. Please include each person’s role within the proposed project along with a short bio.
  1. How will your project unfold over the 15 month period of performance beginning June 1, 2017 and ending August 31, 2018?
  1. How will grant funds, as outlined in the budget, be used to support your proposed solution? Please be as specific as possible.
Questions? Review our FAQs or email us at educatorinnovator@nwp.org. Download a PDF of this entire application.

Creating a Budget

The 2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge will award grants of $20,000. Successful budgets will show how grant funds would be used strategically to support your proposed solution. Budgets must total exactly $20,000. Please be as specific as possible.

Note that the fiscal agent may take up to 10% of the grant to cover indirect costs of hosting the grant. In addition, no more than 10% of the grant can be allocated to direct administrative expenses.

Use the provided budget template (Excel) to prepare your $20,000 requested budget and upload this as an Excel file when you submit your application.

Questions? Review our FAQs or email us at educatorinnovator@nwp.org.

Download a PDF of this entire application.

Submitting a Proposal

In preparing to submit an application, we recommend that you click the button below to enter the Application System, and take time early on to familiarize yourself with the submission process. In addition, once you have started an application in the system, you will be provided with periodic email reminders about the upcoming deadline.

Within an Application Form​, you will be asked for a proposal title, abstract, and information about key team members and your fiscal agent organization. This is required along with your Narrative​ and requested Budget.

The Application Form and Narrative Questions are available as a template for your reference to help you gather the information needed to fill out the online forms. An Excel Budget template is also available for you to prepare your budget.

Once you have completed the Application Form, Narrative, and Budget, you will be asked to provide the name and email address of your Fiscal Agent Contracting Officer and your School Administrator who will sign off on your proposal​. The application system will send an email to the people you designate as your approvers with a link to enter the system, create a login, review the proposal, and sign off on the submission.

NOTE​: Be sure to complete your proposal early enough to leave time for this approval step and final submission before the March 16, 2017 11:59 p.m. Pacific submission deadline. ​To ensure success, please inform your approvers that they will be receiving this email from grantapps@nwp.org and that they need to log in and approve before the deadline. Sometimes these emails can get caught in spam, so please ask them to check their spam folder in the event that they don't see the approval request. If your approver does not receive the email, please ask the approver to email grantapps@nwp.org to request that their approval link be emailed directly to them. You will receive an email notification when each approval is complete so you can return to the system and submit your application.

Steps for submitting an application:

  1. Register for an account at apps.nwp.org.
  2. Complete the Application Form.
  3. Complete the Narrative.
  4. Upload your Requested Budget as an Excel file.
  5. Add contact information for two electronic approvals by your Fiscal Agent Contracting Officer and a School Administrator.
  6. Fiscal Agent Contracting Officer and School Administrator each review and sign ­off on the proposal submission through the system.
  7. Return to the application system and submit your proposal.

Optional​: When you start your application, you may choose to add as many co­-applicants to your submission as you wish by clicking on the link to “Add Members” within the system. Each co-­applicant can either have standard access (for those that you would like to be able to assist with your submission), or read-only access (for those that you would like to just grant access to view your submission).

The LRNG Innovators Challenge is hosted by the National Writing Project as part of its Educator Innovator Initiative. Only applications submitted through the National Writing Project Application System​ will be accepted for review. If you have questions, please review the FAQs, and if your question is not answered there you may email us directly at educatorinnovator@nwp.org.

The National Writing Project Application System can be found at: http://apps.nwp.org/. FAQs and related documents can all be found at http://educatorinnovator.org/lrng2017/.

Please Note: By submitting an application for the LRNG Innovators Challenge you will also be subscribed to the Educator Innovator Newsletter. Newsletters are sent monthly and you can choose to unsubscribe at anytime.