Awarding and Supporting Teacher Community Focused on Student-Centered Entrepreneurship

Leadership, Learning, PreK-12


The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation is taking support for entrepreneurialism in education to the next-level. Don’t get me wrong. There’s no shortage of support for entrepreneurialism in education. USASBE’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education award focuses on HigherEd, NFIB’s Entrepreneurship Educator Award gifts high K-12 educators with a small scholarship, and TFA’s Social Innovation Award, specific to TFA students supports professional coaching built for early-stage entrepreneurs.

What sets apart the Allen Distinguished Educator (ADE) award is the combined prize and community components. Not only is the award incentivized, but the selected educators collectively create a resource that is used for future awardees.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation piloted the ADE award program for teachers who have designed and implemented innovative programs in engineering or entrepreneurship education. The chosen winners convene on multiple occasions to create a dynamic professional network and share best practices.  

We can look forward to hearing from ADE award winners from year one including Amir Abo-Shaeer of Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara, CA, who may share how he is enrolling nearly 400 students per year – 50 percent of them female, to solve complex real world engineering problems. Whereas Regan Drew of Riverpoint Academy in Spokane, WA may share how she is incorporating entrepreneurship into Mead School District’s core STEM curriculum.

The ADE program demonstrates the Foundation’s mission to reinvent the classroom for the 21st century. In 2015, the Allen Distinguished Educators will launch as a national program and include computer science as a focus area. The program’s mission aims to empower the ready, enable the curious, inspire the uninitiated.

“The goal of the ADE award is to accelerate change by rewarding educators that develop and implement authentic, innovative student-centered learning,” said Dave Ferrero, senior program officer for education at Vulcan Inc. “Teachers deserve meaningful recognition and networking opportunities with like-minded educators as they break through barriers to create change.”

In addition to the announcement of launching the second class, the first class of will be releasing a series of micro documentaries and do-it-yourself guides for teachers. The content from the  first class will launch October 2015 and the content from the new class of ADE’s will be available July 2016, in time for planning of the new school year.

Below are details and ways to share information about the awards with the teachers in your life!  

Award Description: A set of $25,000 Allen Distinguished Educator (ADE) awards to K-12 teachers throughout the United States who are transforming the teaching of engineering, entrepreneurship, and/or computer science. The program is open to teachers in public-district, public-charter, public-magnet, private, independent, and parochial.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and have at least two years of teaching experience, spending at least 70 percent of their time as a professional teacher.  Along with the application, a 4-6 minute video must be submitted that shows how the teacher’s program exemplifies ADE principles in the classroom environment, student engagement and program composition.  Additionally, an administrator letter will be required that, should the applicant be selected, shows the administrator supports the teacher’s fulfillment of the ADE responsibilities.

The goal is to highlight the work of innovative teachers and use their example to encourage and enable other educators to adopt their practices. This program aims to generate the following outcomes:

  • More students and parents demanding similar opportunities
  • More educators willing and able to provide those opportunities
  • Civic leaders, policymakers, and other influencers creating conditions that make those opportunities easier to adopt    


Applications opened September 15th and the period closes on November 1st. Login and apply here.

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Katie Vander Ark

Katie Vander Ark

Katie is a education and innovation enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter at @kvanderark.

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