LOS ANGELES, July 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) announced the winners of the inaugural Think It Up Innovation Awards, honoring eight teams of students and teachers who exemplify the great work happening in America's classrooms. Each team will receive $5,000 in DonorsChoose.org funding credits to advance their outstanding work in the classroom. The awards culminate the kick-off year for Think It Up – a new movement to build optimism and energy around what's possible in public education.
The winning teams were selected from thousands of submissions by the Education Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ExxonMobil, Ashoka's Start Empathy Initiative, DonorsChoose.org, EL Education, Learning Heroes and America Achieves. With topics ranging from bullying-prevention to beekeeping, all winning projects fostered curiosity and learning, academic rigor, leadership, character and student-teacher collaboration.
"These teams remind us what we can accomplish when we support and celebrate the tremendous effort of America's students and teachers," said Lisa Paulsen, CEO and President of the Entertainment Industry Foundation. "There's no spotlight bright enough for the inventive, inspiring work they do every day."
EIF launched thinkitup.org, a first-of-its-kind platform to fund student-powered, teacher-led learning projects in partnership with DonorsChoose.org, the popular teacher crowdfunding charity. To date, Think It Up has brought over 2,700 classroom learning projects to life throughout the country. "What an impressive group of teacher-student teams! These are among the most innovative ideas I've seen in the 16-year history of DonorsChoose.org," said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org, adding, "Not a small feat for this first year of Think It Up."
The winning teams are:
- King-Robinson IB Magnet School (New Haven, CT): Five eighth graders set out to determine how to make school more interesting. After researching how engaging schools are structured and visiting nearby campuses, they lobbied for and launched a pilot program utilizing Chromebook technology in the classroom to reinvigorate students' passion for learning.
- Polaris Charter Academy (Chicago, IL): A group of eighth graders worked together to combat stereotypes about their community through original filmmaking, community outreach, and targeted activism. The team created documentaries featuring volunteers and workers from West Humboldt Park, worked to build communication with local youth and police, and organized a rally for peace in their neighborhood.
- Tokay High School (Lodi, CA): A group of 20+ high schoolers brought STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) to life with the first-ever Science and Tech Festival in their community. With sessions on everything from coding to circuitry, the students involved credit the festival with spurring creative thinking and inspiring them to become the next generation of entrepreneurs.
- STEM Academy (Highlands Ranch, CO): Four high school students endeavored to create unity and love through music with the release of their very own album. The effort united students across the school as they learned the entire album production process and engaged local professional musicians to help them hone their new skills. Their hard work and dedication culminated in an album release concert and solidified their newfound passion to use music to make a difference in their school and community.
- Two Rivers School (North Bend, WA): A group of high school students created a greenhouse to teach their peers about the importance of nutrition and healthy eating, and how to prepare nutritious meals on a budget. Through the greenhouse, students were able to cook the food grown in their garden for their local homeless shelter and create a community at school that prepares monthly lunches for students. The project promoted a culture of social responsibility, compassion and citizenship in both the school and greater community.
- Mt. Nebo Jr. High School (Payson, UT): A group of middle school students took environmental issues into their own hands by creating a butterfly pavilion and beehive to help save dying honeybees. Led by students on the autism spectrum, the project empowered students to take on new responsibilities and leadership roles as they explored how to improve the world around them.
- Chowchilla High School (Chowchilla, CA): Motivated by their own personal experiences, one high school class worked together to create a bullying prevention program for their community. The team visited local schools to raise awareness about the issue and teach students about empathy. The audience at each school signed a pledge and vowed not to tolerate bullying.
- Florida South Western Collegiate High School (Fort Myers, FL): High school students created an after-school program for flying drones as a way to learn about technology, fundraising and developing cooperative relationships. The program started small and grew into a school-wide, twice-weekly program known as the "Drone Academy," including guest speakers, community education and outreach, entrepreneurship, and partnerships with local and international drone companies.
The Think It Innovation Up Awards follow the success of EIF's inaugural Think It Up telecast that aired in September 2015, and two Think It Up Live events held in Denver in December 2015 and Austin in March 2016.
Through Think It Up, public school students (grades 7 – 12) and teachers collaborate on high-quality learning projects and submit them for crowdfunding. Think It Up matches public donations to each proposal. Support for the program comes from Ashoka's Start Empathy initiative, ExxonMobil and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and XQ: The Super School Project.
About the Entertainment Industry Foundation
The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), established in 1942, harnesses the collective power of the entire industry to generate awareness and funds for critical health, educational and social issues. Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), EIF's largest initiative, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry's resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. SU2C accelerates research to get new therapies to patients quickly. Since its founding eight years ago, Stand Up To Cancer has brought together more than 1,100 of the best and the brightest research scientists from 131 leading institutions in seven countries to work together on 19 "Dream Teams," and six Translational Research Teams. SU2C-funded researchers have planned, launched or completed more than 160 clinical trials involving over 8,000 patients. Work by SU2C-supported researchers has led to FDA approval of two treatments. Over the last three years, Hunger Is, a joint charitable program of the Albertsons Companies Foundation and EIF, has significantly raised awareness of childhood hunger in the United States and over $12.5 Million to support breakfast, afterschool and out-of-school meal programs.
About Think It Up
Think It Up is an initiative to empower students, celebrate teachers and spark a renewed sense of optimism about what is happening and can happen in America's classrooms. It is made possible through the generous support of corporations, foundations and philanthropists. Major supporters include The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ExxonMobil and Ashoka's Start Empathy Initiative, as well as founding collaborator, XQ: The Super School Project. Think It Up is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Founded in 2000, DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Teachers at over 70 percent of all the public schools in America have created project requests, and over 2 million people have donated $440 million to projects that inspire them. Over 18 million students -- most from low-income communities and many in disaster-stricken areas --have received books, art supplies, field trips, technology, and other resources that they need to learn.
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SOURCE Entertainment Industry Foundation