New Grants Help 12 Museums and Libraries Plan and Design New Learning Labs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On November 8, 2012, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today announced the second round of winners of a national competition to design 21st century Learning Labs in museums and libraries around the country. The 12 winners—five museums and seven libraries—will receive a total of $1.2 million in grants to plan and design the labs. Inspired by YOUmedia, a teen space at the Chicago Public Library, and innovations in science and technology centers, these labs will help young people move beyond consuming content to making and creating it.

Each Learning Lab will be designed to facilitate a research-based education model known as connected learning – one that promotes discovery, creativity, critical thinking and real-world learning through activities and experiences that bring together academics and young people’s interests, often facilitated by digital and traditional media. The labs will connect teens to mentors and peers, as well as anytime, anywhere access to information through online social networks, so they can pursue their interests more deeply and connect these new skills to academics, career, and civic engagement.

“Digital media are revolutionizing the way young people learn, socialize, and engage in civic life,” said Julia Stasch, Vice President of U.S. Programs for the MacArthur Foundation. “These innovative labs are designed to provide today’s youth with the space, relationships, and resources to connect their social worlds and interests with academics, and to better prepare them for success in the 21st century.”

“Because of the expertise and content we have to offer, museums and libraries are uniquely positioned to offer young people meaningful learning experiences that link to science, art, and technology,” said Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “With caring mentors and skilled professionals on staff to guide teens in their exploration, Learning Labs help youth express themselves and hone their skills in a safe environment.”

The new Learning Labs are planned for: Dallas, TX; Madison, WI; Rochester, NY; Berkeley, CA; Billings, MT; Poughkeepsie, NY; Tucson, AZ; Richmond, VA; Tuscaloosa, AL; Pittsburgh, PA; Lynn, MA; and Las Vegas, NV. Each of the winning institutions will match funds from the competition and is developing partnerships with local educational, cultural, civic and business organizations to expand the resources available to build a network of learning opportunities for young people.

These grantees join 12 other communities also planning new learning centers in libraries and museums as a part of the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums project. The initiative was first announced in September 2010 in response to President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, an effort to foster cross-sector collaboration to improve America’s students’ participation and performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Since then, MacArthur and IMLS have committed to invest $4 million to support knowledge-sharing activities for museums and libraries nationwide, and work together to create new Learning Labs across the nation.

Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) will continue to manage and guide the Learning Lab grantee community to ensure that each new space embodies best practice principles, based on research and evidence in the field of youth digital learning, to help young people gain 21st century skills and an effective STEM education.

The 12 recipients of this round of grants were selected out of a pool of 105 applicants from 33 states and one territory. Applications were evaluated by professionals with relevant expertise in digital media and learning, as well as museum and library management. Winners will participate—in-person and online—in a community of practice that will provide technical assistance, networking, and cross-project learning. To learn more about the Learning Labs Project, visit www.imls.gov or youmedia.org.

Attached, please find the full press release, as well as more information about the grantees.

final_learning_labs_press_release_11_8_12.doc