More than 100 years ago, our education system was designed and built to prepare an early-1900s workforce for the industrial age.
Today, children are learning with iPads and Youtube, but the bones of the traditional liberal arts structure remain similar to what our great-grandparents experienced.
Local education innovation incubator The Lean Lab hopes to change that in Kansas City through a new partnership with 4.0 Schools. The New Orleans-based organization has helped hundreds of education entrepreneurs from across the U.S. test and launch their ideas.
The partnership will bring two 4.0 programs to Kansas City — Startup Weekend EDU and “Essentials” — in addition to a wealth of experience in building communities focused innovative education, said Katie Boody, co-founder of nonprofit The Lean Lab.
“In addition to offering immediate programmatic support, the partnership also helps put Kansas City on the map and make it relevant to the national conversation around education innovation,” Boody said. “With the partnership with 4.0, we’re able to leverage their national footprint to attract talent to Kansas City and to draw attention to the work being done on the ground in our region.”
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has given 4.0 Schools a $2.3 million grant to expand its programming nationwide and to partner with The Lean Lab in Kansas City.
“The Kauffman Foundation is excited to support the dynamic programming 4.0 Schools brings to education innovation,” said Aaron North, vice president of Education at the Kauffman Foundation. “Kansas City has an emerging community exploring creative approaches to persistent challenges in education, and having a 4.0 Schools presence in partnership with KC-based The Lean Lab will help channel that energy into improved opportunities for Kansas City students and families.”
During Startup Weekend EDU, which is scheduled for April 29 through May 1, participants create an education-based business in 54 hours. “Essentials” is a three-day workshop that helps education entrepreneurs rapidly move from prototype to pilot.
The two programs join The Lean Lab’s Incubator Fellowship, which is now accepting applications for its third cohort. The fellowship immerses education innovators in a month-long course that develops early stage ideas and culminates in community launch event. Participants with the most viable solutions then test their idea in Kansas City schools with a four- to six-month pilot program, followed by Demo Day. Find a full schedule of Lab programs here.
The 4.0 partnership is icing on the cake for what promises to be an exciting year for the organization, Boody said.
“By the end of the year, we hope all this means that we’re continually growing a robust network of people from different backgrounds pushing for education innovations to take hold in Kansas City,” Boody said. “We’re also hoping that by the end of the year, we’ll be seeing some of these radical education innovations taking hold in schools and learning spaces across the metro, impacting students.”
Earlier this year, the organization hired Aditya Voleti as its chief operating officer. Voleti was a Lean Lab Fellow during its inaugural cohort.
The Lean Lab and 4.0 Schools will celebrate joining forces with a launch event April 28.