Equity in Education Challenge

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What is Open Innovation?

Open Innovation is a creative methodology that promotes sharing ideas freely and learning alongside each other. It brings together a variety of perspectives around a single topic as all participants have permission to freely contribute to, borrow from, and build off the knowledge of others.

We believe this diverse mix of skills and viewpoints—that might not interact otherwise—both yield a more nuanced understanding of an issue and increase the likelihood of creating new and novel solutions. In pairing Open Innovation style workshops with a Fellowship Program, we hope to connect social innovators working to address issues of equity in education and advance the development of new ideas.

Who is eligible to participate in the Equity in Education Challenge?

We encourage those both inside traditional educational institutions and those in sectors adjacent to education to participate. Participants must be over the age of 18.

There will be two phases. The first phase of Open Innovation Workshops are limited to the first 450 participants. Individuals from any size organization will be able to participate. If an Individual or Team from an organization wants to go further after the Open Innovation Workshops they can apply to the second phase, a Fellowship Program. If selected to the Fellowship Program the individuals/ Teams must be associated with an organization which will serve as the named participant for the Program. We will not make payments to individuals. Payments must be made to the legally organized or accredited organization that is sponsoring/benefitting from a Participants inclusion in the Fellowship.

If I want to be involved in the Open Innovation Workshop but can’t be at all of the live sessions, can I still participate?

Yes. Although we would like for you to be present during the live sessions, we also understand that schedules are complicated—especially during a pandemic. If you are unable to participate in all the live sessions and want to be considered for the Fellowship Program, we ask that you watch all the session recordings for the workshops that were missed, complete the post-session interactive prompts, and submit your application for the Fellowship Program prior to the deadline.

Are workshops being recorded?

Yes, all workshops will be recorded and available only to participants to stream as a support for the Fellowship Program application. They will be available from the start of the Open Innovation Workshop until Friday, November 12, when applications are due.

Are there things I should do to prepare for registration in the Steelcase Open Innovation Workshop?

Yes. In the week leading up to the Open Innovation Workshop you will receive an email with approximately 1-hour of pre-work and additional resources if you want to dive deeper.

What do you mean by a “teaching and learning environment”?

The nature of equity in education is complex and interconnected. For this challenge our definition of environment is not limited to physical space. An environment might be an app, a neighborhood, a socially safe gathering, a website, a relationship, family support network, etc. So we are looking at ideas that cover new and comprehensive ways of bringing learning to students where they are.

Who owns the ideas shared in the Open Innovation workshop?

We will be using an Open Innovation methodology that promotes sharing ideas freely and learning alongside each other (please visit this article as a reference). During an Open Innovation Workshop we ask that you not share any confidential information, either personal or to your organization, with us or the other participants in the workshops. Steelcase and other participants may be actively working to develop products or services similar to your idea or designed to address similar market opportunities. Steelcase and other participants may be engaging with other third parties who are working to do the same. When participating in the Open Innovation Workshop you agree that Steelcase and other participants may use any ideas or suggestions you may make during the program without any further obligation to you, in pursuit of the goal to freely share ideas.

What will we do in these Open Innovation workshops?

This series of workshops are scaffolded to guide you through the Design Thinking process while we explore the challenge question: How might we reimagine student support systems during the pivotal transition to higher education or a career path?

During each workshop there will be time of instruction, interactive practice with innovation tools and methods, discussion, and application prompts. Our facilitators will be available for a limited time afterwards to dig deeper into any area you might have questions about. The output of each workshop will be a component of the Fellowship Program application.

What are the online protocols for the Open Innovation Workshops?

We have four ground rules or protocols that we’ve found helpful during online gatherings: Turn on your video during interactive times. Ask questions in the chat — we’ll have someone monitoring it. Raise your digital hand during large group conversations if you have something you’d like to contribute. Mute your microphone if you are not speaking to eliminate distracting background noises.

Do I need to join the Open Innovation Workshop to be considered for the Fellowship?

Yes. These workshops will be a necessary and productive use of your time to connect with other innovators and understand our methodology in preparation for the Fellowship. Additionally, the project prompts will help you structure and refine your pitch in a way that our Selection Panel can analyze effectively.

Can more than one individual participate in the Open Innovation Workshop from the same institution? How do I join as a team?

We’ve designed the Open Innovation Workshops and the Fellowship Program content, prompts, and homework to be applicable to both individual and team participants. In the Open Innovation Workshops multiple people may sign up from one organization and can participate as a either a team focusing on one shared idea, or as individuals working on their own ideas.

Each participant must register individually for the Open Innovation Workshops. This will give each individual the needed access to the learning platform.

After Open Innovation Workshops you may apply for the Fellowship as either an individual or a Team. On the application for the Fellowship Program there is space to formally list all team members. If submitting as a Team, we ask that you identify one person to serve as the Primary Person to Contact to submit the application and communicate on behalf of your Team.

Can I submit multiple ideas during the Open Innovation Workshop?

Each Fellowship Program applicant (Team or Individual) can submit no more than 2 final ideas for consideration for the Fellowship. If there are multiple teams from the same organization, each Team is limited to 2 idea submissions. Each idea requires its own separate application.

How should I submit my idea(s) for the Fellowship Program? What is the deliverable you will be judging?

Those that want to apply to the Fellowship Program may submit their idea through an online form no later than 11:59pm EST on Friday, November 12, 2021. Details on the application contents and selection considerations will be discussed in the workshops and delivered both in the workshops and in supporting collateral.

Who is your Selection Panel and what are the considerations or criteria they are using?

Our Selection Panel consists of previous Social Innovation Fellows, internal subject matter experts, and external thought partners. Below are general descriptions of the considerations our Selection Panel will be using:

  • Level of interest and ability to participate in the program time frame
  • Awareness and familiarity with context
  • Clear articulation and understanding of a related problem and opportunity
  • Institutional commitment and capacity to execute a prototype
  • Aligned with principles of Targeted Universalism
  • Proximity to a Steelcase location

If my idea is selected for a Fellowship, what happens?

Should your idea be selected for the Fellowship Program, the Primary Person to Contact will be notified the week of December 13, 2021. Once the cohort is finalized you will receive a Fellowship agreement that a representative qualified to sign for your organization must complete, and a packet of advertising and social media resources (images, social post examples, press release) to help you share the news with your network.

In January, your organization will receive a welcome packet of resources and we will begin processing payment. The Fellowship program will begin Tuesday, February 1. To accommodate an international audience, the Fellowship Program will be virtual. The Fellows will meet virtually once per weekly with specific actions and prompts for your team to complete by the following week. Fellows are expected to document the development of their concepts in photo and video. Once the Fellowship Program starts your team will be responsible for attending the majority of the virtual engagements. We understand that every team member may not be able to attend every session and ask that your team have strong representation (+75% of team presence) at the sessions. These engagements will be recorded, and that recording will be available to stream for the Fellows as a resource to reference throughout the Fellowship Program.

Are there any contractual obligations with Steelcase should I be selected to be a Fellow?

Yes. Should you be selected for the Fellowship Program, a person with signing authority from your organization will be asked to sign an Agreement with Steelcase that will provide the specifics of the program requirements, and what will be received by participants. You will have the opportunity to review before signing and indicate your desire to participate in the Fellowship Program.

What will be provided to those selected for the Fellowship?

The goal of the Fellowship Program is to improve cultures of innovation while advancing new efforts in equity and wellbeing. Up to 10 Teams from organizations will be selected to receive training, and support over the course of the five-month program.

The Fellowship Program will consist of virtual workshops, guest lectures, peer coaching, and ad hoc support to address challenges that arise in early-stage development.

A Fellow’s organization will receive $5,000 to support the development and testing of a prototype.

What am I expected to complete for the Fellowship Program?

You will be responsible for attending the majority of the virtual engagements, engaging with other participants, and using the tools we provide as applicable. You will develop a rough prototype of your idea, test it, and work on developing a larger scale pilot program. You will document and share your work through photos and videos. Finally, you will develop a presentation that captures and shares the lessons you’ve learned.

What is the estimated time commitment?

For the Open Innovation Workshop, we estimate 10-12 hours of work over two weeks. For the Fellowship Program, we estimate 40-50 hours of additional work outside our virtual sessions over five months.

Will there be new challenges in the future?

This is our second iteration of the Steelcase Social Innovation Lab. Like all new endeavors we plan to learn and improve on future iterations that will be different in execution but similar in spirit, i.e., focused on improving targeted Sustainable Development Goals, supporting teams bringing new ideas into the world, and sharing learning.

Will there be language support for languages other than English?

Due to the international nature of the Open Innovation Workshop and the Fellowship Program, all content and course materials will be delivered in English. We will not have translation services available.