This has been a year of growth for Noble Impact. Going into our third year, we’re laser-focused on striving toward our mission of providing every student with a relevant and purpose-driven education.
Some of the highlights from this year include expanding our curriculum into the middle school setting, launching high school apprenticeships, testing the usefulness of digital portfolios in the classroom, introducing our new website and blog, and launching our first Civic Innovation Challenge, modeled on previous problem-solving events we’ve hosted.
We want to thank our community for teaming up to make our work possible. Without the countless community partners and our students — all of whom are driven toward making a difference — our work would not be possible. As we reflect on the past year of work, we are simultaneously gearing up for a new year and refreshed goals. We invite you to be a part of that change. Find us on social media or come see us in Little Rock at the Arkansas Venture Center. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, here’s a look at what 2015 has brought for Noble Impact and its scholars.
Expanding Into Middle School
— Benjamin Franklin
We have learned a lot since launching Noble Impact’s entrepreneurship course at eStem High School in the 2013-2014 school year. Most importantly, we learned that we can’t wait until high school. We have to start earlier and invest in the long-term creation of every student’s entrepreneurial skillset and public service mindset.
This year, we worked with eStem to expand Noble into middle school, a long-term investment in student growth starting in 5th grade. Stay tuned as we continue to expand throughout the K-12 education experience. Early exposure to problem-solving and project-based learning environments sets our students up best for success.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes
While we were piloting Noble Impact’s course in Middle School, we also launched an apprenticeship program at eStem High School with more than a dozen partnering organizations, including Few, Apptegy, Strengthen, the Museum of Discovery, John David Pittman Photography, Freiderica Pharmacy And Compounding, CHI St. Vincent Infirmary, River Market Boot Camp, and the Venture Center.
Here’s the important part — We did not hold the students’ hands in this process. From researching the companies to initiating communications, the students were in the driver’s seat the entire time. Our long-term goal for apprenticeships is for organizations to not view them just as volunteerism, but opportunities for Noble scholars to provide real value.
Testing Student Digital Portfolios
— Ralph Ellison
Noble Impact’s curriculum is designed on a bridge of engagement between the classroom and community. This year, we discovered that students needed a more effective tool to communicate between those two worlds. Enter the digital portfolio.
In the first semester, more than 500 Noble Impact scholars in 5th to 12th grades created personal digital portfolios, using website building tool Weebly to test whether portfolios engage students and power community connections. Read one student’s account of how her digital portfolio helped her connect with her favorite filmmaker in NYC.
You’re going to be hearing more from us on this topic. Until then, check out VP of Product Erica Swallow’s op-ed in the Huffington Post: “The New High School Essentials: LinkedIn, a Resumé, and a Digital Portfolio.”
Introducing Our New Website & Blog
— Ira Glass
A few months ago in a staff meeting, Noble Impact’s co-founder Chad Williamson said something that resonated with everyone: “We are a factory for student stories.”
Those stories reside on our new website, launched in July. If you haven’t visited nobleimpact.org lately, take a few minutes to peruse. There is a ton of great content.
In addition to doing a better job of telling our story, we wanted to provide a platform for innovative ideas and diverse perspectives. That’s why we launched the Community Blogging Program.
In the last four months, 13 guest bloggers, including teachers, parents, students and entrepreneurs, have published 47 posts about topics ranging from reimagining youth talent development to how students are using LinkedIn. If you’re interested in joining our network of talented writers and thought leaders, send us a note.
Launching the Civic Innovation Challenge
— Winthrop Rockefeller
In July, we launched our first Civic Innovation Challenge on the opportunity gap in education. Noble Impact scholars were joined by civil rights activist and “Little Rock Nine” member Minnijean Brown Trickey. [Watch the video above for an inside look into the event.]
The Civic Innovation Challenge combines the very best of real-world learning, critical thinking, team collaboration, and community engagement. We leave the theoretical behind and introduce students to some of the most pressing challenges facing our society.
Looking at 2016
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the coming year, we’re focused on offering more Noble Impact courses to students earlier on in their education and will be doubling down on digital portfolios. We also look forward to continuing to build our network of community partnerships with the Noble Apprenticeship program.
If you’d like to join along in our 2016 adventures, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where we maintain a dialogue about the future of education and how we’re playing our part — from the latest articles on innovation in education to what’s happening in our classrooms.