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Apply for an Inspired Learning Grant!

The application process has begun for Inspired Learning Grants from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo.

The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation today kicks off the Inspired Learning grants program to empower local educators to launch innovative learning ideas.

Four grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded to Kalamazoo County teachers, volunteers or other educators who work with kids and want to inspire them with an innovative learning program. Applications are made through videos posted to The Learning Network Facebook page at

“Our local educators make a tremendous impact on the lives of youth in our community, and often they have innovative ideas for new programs that simply don’t fit existing budgets,” says Amy Slancik, community investment officer for The Learning Network at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. “This program is about helping bring those ideas to life so they can be tested on a small scale and we can all learn from them.”

Innovative Learning, Innovative Process

Want to buy tablets for a class media project? An Inspired Learning grant could cover devices and software. Want to take students to see a special science speaker? An Inspired Learning grant could cover the transportation cost and tickets. For bigger initiatives, such as a class trip to another city, while the grant might not cover all costs, it could provide a start and student fundraising could do the rest.

Because these grants are about innovative learning ideas, they’re being offered in an innovative way. Explains Slancik, “We know educators are incredibly busy. We want the application process to be easy, creative and to mirror the innovative nature of the grants it supports. So, there’s no long form to fill out or essays to be written. Educators simply post a video to Facebook about their idea and the impact they believe it will have. It’s as easy as taking a short video on your smartphone.”

See more about the application process by visiting the grant page at

Involving the Whole Community

Importantly, this grant is also about community and inspiring learning throughout Kalamazoo County. For this reason, says Slancik, the community is being invited to participate in the judging. Once the submission period closes for video applications, the first round of judging will take place on Facebook. “We hope applicants will spread the word and get family and friends involved in voting for the most inspiring ideas,” she noted.

The second round of judging will involve a panel of community leaders from Kalamazoo County. The judges include:

  • Carl Brown Principal of Roguebotic and Co-Founder of Tweet Up Kalamazoo
  • Patricia Carlin Retired Educator from Kalamazoo Public Schools
  • Matthew Downey Program Director for Nonprofit Services, Johnson Center for Philanthropy
  • Gabriel Giron Co-Founder of Kinetic Affect
  • Jennifer Hsu Coordinator of the Office of LBGTA Student Services, Western Michigan University
  • Amy Slancik Community Investment Officer, Kalamazoo Community Foundation
  • Von Washington Jr. Executive Director of Community Relations, Kalamazoo Promise

"Education is the most precious gift and the most powerful tool we can give to our youth,” says Gabriel Giron, Co-Founder of Kinetic Affect. “With the right knowledge, anyone is capable of changing the world around them. It’s exciting to think how many great and innovative ideas could come from the tools that this grant will provide to the youth in our community."

Key Dates to Watch

Full details of the video application process are available on the grant page: Key dates to watch include:

  • Video submission October 28 to December 1
  • Community voting December 1 to December 12
  • Final judging by leadership panel January 5 to January 9

Recipients will be announced the week of January 12, 2015.

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