Architecture & Design, Education, and Manufacturing

Steelcase offering classroom grants

December 2, 2019
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Furniture maker offers grants for 'active-learning' classrooms
The Verb Classroom "active learning" design focuses on the importance of movement in learning. Courtesy Steelcase

The education group of a local furniture maker is looking for grant applicants for its active learning initiative.

Steelcase Education, a dedicated group within Grand Rapids-based furniture manufacturer Steelcase, opened the application period for its sixth-annual Active Learning Center grant, according to Steelcase today.

The grant program seeks middle, high school and higher ed institutions looking to foster increased learning and engagement with an active learning approach.

“For many learning institutions, it’s a challenge to shift from passive to active learning,” said Madelyn Hankins, general manager, Steelcase Education. “We often see a change in their pedagogies and technologies but a lack of physical spaces that encourage the movement, collaboration and various learning modes needed to support active learning.

“By connecting space, pedagogy and technology in an active learning classroom, schools can create active learning environments that increase student learning, innovation, creativity and ultimately,  enhance student success.”  

Application details

Steelcase will award up to 10 grants to six to 12 schools, colleges or universities, providing one active learning classroom — including furniture, design review, installation, on-site training, pre- and post-occupancy measurement tools and a new suite of transformation strategy services.

The services will include a “visioning workshop” with stakeholders, gap analysis to help manage the change and regular follow-up conversations to gauge progress and identify opportunities to improve.

Grant recipients can choose from three classroom layouts designed for up to 30 students, valued at $132,000. Eligible classrooms must be located in the U.S., U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, Canada or Mexico.

Recipients agree to provide sufficient dedicated space, participate in Steelcase Education on-site training and conduct and share research related to the Active Learning Center over a two-year period.

Institutions can apply for the grant online.

They can also take advantage of a how-to webinar, “Smart Strategies for an Active Learning Center Grant,” on Dec. 9 at 3 p.m.

Measuring success

In the first five years of the grant program, Steelcase Education has invested more than $4.3 million to create flexible classroom environments at 68 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities.

Julie Marshall, a seventh-grade teacher at past ALC grant recipient Saluda Trail Middle School, reported the following changes after implementing the grant:

— Completed assignments increased from 53% to 97%
— Year-end student grades averaged an increase in a whole letter grade
— There was a 30% increase in the number of students exceeding their Measure of Academic Progress, or MAP, goal

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