Musical artist John Legend credits a teacher with encouraging him to develop his musical talents and follow his dreams. Now he is paying it forward with support for LRNG Innovators in partnership with the National Writing Project. LRNG Innovators challenges teachers to bring innovation into the classroom and — with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — gives classroom teachers funding to put their ideas into action.

The 2015 LRNG Innovators Challenge is now open. Applications are due January 13, 2016.

Connected Learning research and practice has demonstrated that all young people can achieve and learn when they are given opportunities to follow their interests, receive support from peers and mentors, and have time and space to create work that is meaningful to them. Out-of-school programs and community institutions like libraries and museums provide rich learning opportunities that young people value, but in many cases these opportunities are disconnected from students’ school experiences.

Meanwhile, educators working outside of school could benefit from the opportunities schools offer to work with young people in deeper and more sustained ways. In the gap between formal and informal learning, we may well be missing key opportunities to support youth in creating connections and being active agents in their learning.

If you have an idea to create partnerships and programs that connect in-school and out-of-school learning and create opportunities for young people to follow their interests and do ambitious work, this Challenge is for you. Visit to learn more.