March 31, 2021 | By Cricket Fuller
The mother I met on a May evening in 2019 at the Pittsburgh Youth Filmmakers premiere had never heard of the local student film program before that night. But after seeing a flyer for Remake Learning Days, she and her daughter attended the event and began to discover a region’s worth of creative learning opportunities like it. Across town the next day at the Citizen Science Lab, I met children and parents who were similarly enthralled as they looked through microscopes—and a new pathway into STEM.
These families aren’t alone. This spring, from April 22 through May 23, they will join tens of thousands of youth and their families participating in Remake Learning Days Across America (RLDAA), a festival of hands-on learning experiences for families hosted in 17 regions across the country. The festival will look a bit different this year due to the pandemic—many of the events are virtual or will happen outdoors in a COVID-safe way. But whether online or in person, families will discover new ways and places to learn, build more connected ecosystems, and participate in more equitable opportunities around the future of learning.
Remake Learning Days began in the Pittsburgh region five years ago, and in 2019, it launched nationally in nine regions with more than 50,000 participants, 850 events, and 500 host organizations. RLDAA now stretches from San Diego’s beaches to Kentucky’s Appalachian hollers to the streets of Washington, D.C., led by Remake Learning in cooperation with national partners Digital Promise, PBS Kids for Parents, Common Sense Media, Learning Heroes, and Noggin. The event is made possible by generous support from The Grable Foundation, Schmidt Futures, Carnegie Corporation of New York, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.
Events are hosted by a wide range of organizations in each community—from churches to tech companies, rec centers to sewing shops, libraries to schools, makerspaces to barbershops, parks to museums, restaurants to laundromats, and everywhere in between. Activities are designed to be hands-on, relevant, and engaging, to give kids and caregivers opportunities to experience future-facing learning together.
Remake Learning Days events are celebrations—settings where young people can develop their sense of creativity, perseverance, and curiosity. And as regions are discovering, the impact of RLDAA extends far beyond the magic of the festival each spring.
Hosting RLDAA helps regions ensure that youth and families have equitable access to powerful learning experiences—and to strengthen the ecosystem that supports them. RLDAA regions begin their work with a diverse planning team, representative of marginalized groups and voices in their community. Many then map learning opportunities and spaces across neighborhoods, choosing to focus resources in areas where there are gaps. (Read more about Chicago Learning Exchange’s asset mapping work.) RLDAA can help regions to allocate investments and opportunities more equitably in under-resourced communities, and it can also celebrate the assets that reside within them. By identifying learning partners, activities, and spaces in each neighborhood, RLDAA shines a light on the existing richness in all communities, especially those at the margins.
Now, regions are finding that the connections built during RLDAA can lay the foundation for a year-round network. (Learn more about the network in Southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia through their innovation portfolio.) RLDAA ecosystems have seeded new programming, new partnerships, and more awareness of the opportunities for youth across the region—and not just during RLDAA. This awareness has also been critical in helping to galvanize communities as advocates for more youth-centered, powerful learning both in and out of school. Learn more about this and other impacts we heard from communities on our “listening tour” of RLDAA regions.
Preparing students for a future we cannot yet imagine means that we must prepare them to be lifelong, adaptable learners. Over the past year, Remake Learning has chronicled the resilience and discoveries of students and families navigating new challenges and opportunities for learning under the #LearningLessons campaign.
As regions prepare for RLDAA 2021, they are also building—and deepening—coalitions dedicated to championing youth and their families. Many of those community partnerships were forged and expanded amid the COVID-19 crisis to meet the needs of learners and their families. Now, they are re-envisioning a better tomorrow together. Read more about this work across the Remake Learning network in Pittsburgh and other regions, and learn how your community can be part of the movement.