Stand Together Announces the Wichita Learning Lab Aiming to Launch August 2023 in Downtown Wichita
First of its kind in Wichita, the Learning Lab’s vision is to house and support multiple education entrepreneurs empowering students to unlock their unique potential
Arlington, VA (December 21, 2022) – Stand Together is a philanthropic community tackling some of our nation’s biggest problems, one of which is supporting bold changemakers driving education solutions across the country. In response to the ingenuity and innovation of educational entrepreneurs, Stand Together Trust aims to launch a first-of-its-kind Learning Lab in Wichita in partnership with the community. The Wichita Learning Lab seeks to be a hub for education solutions, serving as a nexus for families, educators, school leaders, and the community to incubate and foster collaboration in providing student-driven learning models.
“A one-size-fits-all education model holds kids back; students need individual options that ignite their interests and passions to unlock their full potential,” said Derek Johnson, Senior Vice President, Stand Together Strategic Initiatives. “Wichita Learning Lab looks to launch as a site for new and inventive learning environments where local educational entrepreneurs connect and collaborate. The idea is for families to be able to explore models that empower students to discover their aptitudes and interests, develop skills, and apply that knowledge to benefit themselves and others.”
The Learning Lab is aiming to open its doors to entrepreneurs in Wichita, including those supported by the VELA Education Fund, part of the Stand Together partner community. VELA’s longstanding commitment to Wichita families has generated 31 micro grants to local education entrepreneurs developing and implementing new approaches to teaching and learning. Many of those micro grants fund diverse and nontraditional learning environments such as micro schools, homeschool co-ops, hybrid homeschools, private schools, and virtual schools. The Learning Lab seeks to create an incubation site and collaborative space for VELA educational entrepreneurs. The goal is to provide critical space for their expansion and impact in the Wichita community.
“There is a vibrant and growing community of education entrepreneurs in Wichita who are creating more individualized learning opportunities for learners and families,” shared Dalena Wallace, President of Wichita Innovative Schools and Educators. “It is going to be a game changer for us to have a space where we can connect and collaborate to foster more innovation and support more families across the region.”
While the entrepreneurs in Wichita have diverse educational philosophies and approaches, they share a commitment to individualized learning for young people. These nontraditional learning models are increasingly popular with families looking for education programs that reflect their values and are engaging and dynamic.
In a recent local survey, 27% of parents considered switching their child’s school in the past year, and nearly 60% of parents expressed interest in a new school concept. Of those parents, 65% expressed less overall satisfaction with their current school and stated they are drawn to individualized lesson plans.
Wichita Learning Lab heard the call of parents wanting more individualized learning options as unique as their children. Stand Together Trust is exploring an August 2023 launch to house and support student-centered micro schools, learning pods, and various models that promote student-driven learning. Families will have access to dietary and transportation services to meet their students’ needs.
Stand Together collaborates with a wide array of innovative education organizations like VELA, Khan Academy, Schoolhouse.world, Academica, EMPOWERED, and many more with a proven track record in supporting individualized learning in Wichita. The Learning Lab ecosystem will continue to evolve and add additional partners, informed by families and students’ unique individual needs.
“No two kids are the same, so why should their education be?” asked Johnson. “Wichita Learning Lab is eager to open its doors to educational entrepreneurs and families exploring education models aligned to their students’ needs. The Lab strives to be a center of excellence with a wide range of educational models, proving what’s possible when you provide individualized programs tailored to the child.”
ABOUT STAND TOGETHER
Stand Together is a philanthropic community that tackles the root causes of our country’s biggest problems. Alongside inspiring partners, we drive solutions on education, economic opportunity, health care, bridging partisan divides, and dozens of other pressing issues. We can all make a greater difference by uniting on areas of common ground than we can by acting on our own. Learn more at www.standtogether.org. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.
About VELA Education Fund
VELA is a national nonprofit fund that launched in 2020. VELA invests in everyday entrepreneurs – students, parents, educators, and community leaders – who are envisioning new approaches that meet learners’ and families’ needs. VELA does not dictate solutions to its grantees. Instead, VELA trusts grantees to identify what their communities need and how they can best meet those needs. To date, VELA has awarded more than 1,600 grants totaling over $16.5 million to support non-traditional education models. Recipients reside in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Visit velaedfund.org to learn more.