New Venture Fund: Building 21 – Allentown
In partnership with the Allentown School District (ASD), and Building 21 is opening a new public high school in the city of Allentown in 2015. Building 21 is a project of New Venture Fund, which focuses on reimagining secondary education by decoupling learning from school. Building 21 seeks to offer students a highly personalized experience with a significant focus on problem-based, blended (online and in person) and applied learning.
The Building 21 – Allentown High School will open with 150 students and grow to 600 students by year four. The goals of Building 21 – Allentown are to increase high school graduation rates, to better prepare students for college or career, and to allow students to pursue their passions as they build skills to positively impact their world. It is the hope of both Building 21 and ASD that this school serves as a learning lab, and leads to the diffusion of more engaging, applied, and rigorous approaches to secondary education across ASD’s other schools.
Neighborhood Improvement Zone: Collaborative and Community Based Action Learning Initiative
The unprecedented economic boom of center city Allentown has created an extraordinary opportunity to improve the quality of life for the neighborhoods around the NIZ, the City of Allentown, and the entire Lehigh Valley. New leadership, and new leadership processes are required to advance this effort. Recognizing that operational grants and project-based grants each have limitations, The Rider-Pool Foundation is implementing a new action learning initiative as it moves toward a novel grant-making system, concentrated in collective impact.
As The Foundation believes that the future of nonprofits lies in creating synergy across nonprofit organizations, it will begin to prioritize funding to cross-organizational projects. This new initiative will be a hybrid grant opportunity with roughly half its budget supporting the operational funds necessary to participate in the collective impact learning component of the program and half supporting the cross-organizational projects developed through the program. A change in grant making, especially one that requires a deeper commitment to multi-system collaboration, takes a deeper level of education and development in order to find success.
These learning opportunities can be purchased from outside vendors at a high cost, still leaving us with a void in infrastructure for future learning, or can be developed within, where once the model is built, leaders for years to come can benefit from the experience. We propose funding to develop a Lehigh Valley specific, intensive learning opportunity and leadership development initiative.