WATCH: Will Pods Outlast the Pandemic? School Experts and Founders Talk About the Education Innovations That Could Endure Beyond COVID

Propelled by pandemic-related school shutdowns, small groups of students across the country are learning together outside of traditional classrooms. They range from physical settings sponsored by existing community organizations able to provide space for social distancing and adult supervision for distance learning to organic, grassroots collectives created by neighbors with common challenges. A chief takeaway from The 74’s reporting on these “learning pods”: When parents and students decide what they want the learning experience to look like, you end up with a rich kaleidoscope of arrangements.

The VELA Education Fund has made grants to a number of groups engaging in these learning models and the Center on Reinventing Public Education has taken on the intriguing work of tracking their progress. Together with The 74, the two groups hosted a panel discussion Thursday with three founders to hear about the ways they have worked to meet students’ needs in their community and what innovations they hope to keep when COVID-19 recedes.

The 74’s Beth Hawkins moderated a discussion with CRPE Director Robin Lake, Engaged Detroit founder Bernita Bradley, Elijah Moses of Wise Young Builders in Buffalo and Washington, D.C., and Green Gate Children’s School co-founder Katie Saiz in Wichita, Kansas.

Disclosure: The Walton Family Foundation provides financial support to both the VELA Education Fund and The 74.

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