Avonworth primary program chosen for global stage

Not only is Pittsburgh the first U.S. city to have been selected for an international spotlight on education innovation by global non-profit HundrED, which seeks and shares inspiring ideas in K-12 education with the goal of scaling them worldwide, but a program developed by students at the Avonworth Primary Center is one of only 12 Pittsburgh initiatives that will be shared with the world.

The HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh identified “the most innovative, impactful, and scalable programs invented by educators in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia, according to a statement issued by the organization.

With support from the Grable Foundation, HundrED issued an open call inviting the region’s educators to share their best ideas. The response included 82 examples of what’s working in their classrooms, libraries, after-school programs, and community centers.

An international research team and a local advisory committee led HundrED to finalize these submissions to 12 selections, which “represent the wide range of unique and proven approaches educators have adopted and invented to help youth flourish.”

“HundrED Spotlights are designed to identify 10 of the most inspiring innovations that focus on a location or theme, and then share those with the world to help spread what’s working in education,” said Lasse Leponiemi, executive director and co-founder of HundrED. “But Pittsburgh broke the mold. The response was so robust that we chose to expand our selection to 12 innovations. These selected innovations have been proven locally, but they are also inspiring in global context.”

The Avonworth program that drew HundrED’s interest is JAM Enterprises, an organization started several years ago by two then-first grade students and their teacher. Julia Nardozzi and Amelia Lucas approached teacher Maureen Frew about making various items that could be sold to raise funds for local charities and families in need. “JAM” gets its name from the initials of each of their first names.

Frew is the Avonworth Primary Center’s maker space specialist, and that maker space became the headquarters for a club that now has dozens of members who describe themselves as “Girls Who Make. Girls Who Care,” and spread the message #bethekindkid.

This summer, HundrED will document JAM and the other area education programs to help them spread around the world.

The selected innovations will be featured on HundrED’s global platform HundrED.org, highlighted in a comprehensive report of education innovation in the Pittsburgh region, featured in short case study videos, and invited to HundrED’s annual three-day Innovation Summit to be held in Helsinki, Finland in November.