Social Studies

Grants for Teachers Creating Online Lessons During COVID-19

By Catherine Gewertz — October 06, 2020 2 min read
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National Geographic Education launched a new fund on Tuesday that will award at least 50 grants to teachers to adapt or develop remote-friendly curriculum resources that use science, social studies, or geography to teach about pandemics, including COVID-19, or about social or environmental justice.

To qualify for the grants, which run from $1,000 to $8,000, teachers need to plan resources that can be used in hybrid or remote environments. Nat Geo will share the materials developed under the grant program with teachers nationwide, through its website and social media, so the resources must work well not only for the teachers who create them, but for other teachers as well, said Vicki Phillips, the nonprofit’s chief education officer.

Many organizations provide grants for various teacher projects, and in the past six months, some have offered grants to support educators’ response to the pandemic. In May, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative awarded about $750,000 in grants to support initiatives to improve the mental health and well-being of students and teachers affected by the coronavirus.

The NEA Foundation awarded rapid-response grants for a range of initiatives led by educators to adapt to COVID-19, including addressing learning loss, developing pedagogy and adapting curriculum for remote learning, and supporting students’ emotional well-being. The AFT’s Innovation Fund awarded district-level grants to support the transition to blended learning, address students’ academic and emotional needs, and develop strategies to engage families.

In considering awards for its new grants, National Geographic Education will give priority to teachers in areas hit hardest by the pandemic, and those who haven’t gotten grants from the organization before.

The new grant program, called the Learning Emergency Fund for Educators, came together after Nat Geo heard from many teachers that in the wake of COVID-19 school shutdowns, they were struggling to find good instructional resources that worked well in remote mode.

Phillips said that in addition to offering the new grants, Nat Geo pulled together additional resources for teachers responding to COVID-19.

It curated a collection of its own materials that teachers could use from home and posting them on a “Learn Anywhere” page and developed a guide to help families and teachers navigate Nat Geo resources. It also expanded its “Explorer Classroom” program, which links students with explorers via YouTube. And it coordinated the launch of the Twitter hashtag #TeacherStrong to facilitate conversation and community among teachers.

The grant program is a part of that effort to help teachers as they try to teach subjects in Nat Geo’s wheelhouse in the remote world of the pandemic.

“We want to connect teachers into this larger community where they can share materials, lean on each other, find hope and inspiration, commiseration when they need to, and share resources,” Phillips said.

More details about the specifics of the grant requirements are on Nat Geo’s website. Teachers can apply for the grants on the National Geographic Education website starting today.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.