Kansas City recently snagged a $50,000 grant that aims to fuel the development of a passionate, 21st-century workforce.
The LRNG platform connects and organizes local learning experiences to give students access to opportunities both in and out of school. The platform will help develop a workforce better prepared to meet future needs, said Kari Keefe, executive director of the innovation center and the Think Big Foundation.
“The LRNG platform is a strategic vision for creating a 21st-century workforce in the connected age,” Keefe said. “It will help catalyze Kansas City’s vision for education as a net-centric, digital city.”
Keefe said KC Social Innovation Center plans to use the grant to hire staff to manage the program, support partner organizations and youth outreach efforts. Key partners are Kansas City Mayor Sly James, the KC STEM Alliance and Kansas City Public Library.
Through LRNG, students can immerse themselves in their interests through a platform that connects existing civic organizations, public institutions and businesses with online programming. By completing “playlists,” or pre-planned combinations of real-world experiences and online learning, students earn digital badges to beef up resumes and land internships or other opportunities.
Programs like LRNG are the future of learning and turn learning into a lifestyle, Keefe said.
“We believe the evolution of learning in Kansas City starts here,” Keefe said. “Not only does it bring opportunities for inclusion and access to rich learning experiences that will directly impact youth, but it has the potential to reshape and influence the organizations that serve youth in tremendous ways — with efficiency, shared resources, network collaborations, outreach and data.”
Plans will begin immediately on an integrated pilot with a job fair on April 16th at the Kauffman Foundation. Youth in the program will go through a series of learning experiences, and they’ll be able to earn badges that will unlock access to specific jobs and opportunities over the summer.
Kansas City joins a national movement that includes Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., which have already worked as established LRNG Cities. Other LRNG City Challenge winners are: San Diego, San Jose, and West Sacramento, Calif; Columbus and Springfield, Ohio; Rochester, New York; and Philadelphia, PA.
For more information on LRNG, check out the video below.