The Big Picture:

  • Idea Lab funding provides awards of up to $1,500 to Brookline educators working alone or collaboratively to pilot innovative, authentic, hands-on learning opportunities for their students
  • Applications from individuals or teams of teachers, administrators, or other professional and para-professional personnel under contract with the Public Schools of Brookline are welcome.
  • Projects may address any subject area for any grade taught in the Brookline Public Schools from BEEP through Grade 12. Eligible projects related to teaching practice should enhance, but not duplicate, the standard public school curriculum and programs. Applications should be novel to the classroom.

Information about previous, successful Idea Lab grants can be found here. Examples include:

  • a BEEP teacher purchased ukeleles to teach her students to play and incorporate music into their daily school routines
  • a fifth-grade class researched and constructed fully-functional wind turbines
  • a science teacher and a math teacher worked together with their 7th-grade students to design and build an Aquaponics Garden
  • a BHS English teacher guided her students in creating and self-publishing ‘Zines focusing on their feminism
  • a BHS engineering teacher helped his students work with students in the RISE program to design and construct adaptive technology

Application details:

The application for Idea Lab funding is short. It requires either a brief description of your idea in writing or via a short video. The Idea Lab Funding Committee (made up of parents who are BEF Board members, BEF administrators, and the PSB’s Senior Director of Teaching and Learning) will review all applications and select those which are 1) novel to your classroom, 2) able to be done this year, and 3) include new, authentic, hands-on learning opportunities for students. Only applicants whose proposals meet these criteria will be asked to meet with the panel and orally “pitch” their ideas.

  • You must submit either a one-page description or a brief video explaining your idea. Your submission should indicate the goals of your project; what impact the project will have on you, your colleagues, and your students; and why the project is innovative.
  • Successful applications will involve new, authentic, hands-on learning in some way. Funds may be used to pay for materials, equipment, or technology necessary to support your idea, as well as stipends, consultants, or conference fees.
  • The BEF will not support projects that should be funded more appropriately within the school budget. Proposals should not request funds for classroom supplies or routine lesson plan development. For example, we would not fund teacher planning time or training required to launch a new academic curriculum adopted by an individual school or the system as a whole.
  • Please note that Idea Lab funding is intended to encourage new, engaging ways to involve your students in a meaningful curriculum.
  • Educators receiving a grant are also required to attend the Celebrating Teachers event on May 7, 2024

The Innovation Catalyst Award:

The BEF is providing an additional incentive to new and experiential approaches to teaching through an INNOVATION CATALYST AWARD. This award, which includes a $500 prize, will be presented to the 2023-24 Idea Lab grant recipient whose grant best supports a creative, engaging approach to teaching.

One outstanding award recipient will be chosen from the 2023-24 Idea Lab grant recipients (there is no separate application process). The selection committee will choose the recipient whose grant exemplifies the spirit of Idea Lab by offering a new and novel idea that will help transform student learning.

The INNOVATION CATALYST AWARD, which is intended to encourage creativity and thinking “outside the box,” may be used to further the goals of the awardee’s Idea Lab grant by funding additional stipends, administrative costs, equipment, or technology directly related to the grant.

The Timing:

  • Written or video description and application forms are due on Monday, November 13 by 5:00 pm.
  • Pitches will take place on November 16th and November 21st after school, location TBD.
  • Projects may begin immediately upon receiving funding.
  • Documentation of funded projects (poster, PowerPoint, video, etc) will be required in late May to share your feedback and results with us and parents and donors. A guidance rubric will be provided.

Questions? Email or call us at 617-232-3846.