Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Launches Allen Distinguished Educators Program


Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Launches Allen Distinguished Educators Program


SEATTLE, Wash. – February 5, 2014
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation announced today the launch of a new program, Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE), designed to spread innovation from a single classroom or school to teachers and students around the country. As part of the launch, the Foundation has selected its first seven educators from California, Oregon and Washington. Each ADE will receive $25,000 in funding and a year-long fellowship program to grow and share their work in entrepreneurship and engineering education.

The ADE program demonstrates the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s commitment to education, focusing on reinventing the classroom for the 21st century. The Foundation is supporting pioneering approaches to engineering and entrepreneurship education because these disciplines have the potential to create transformative experiences for young people and give them the knowledge, skills and attitudes to successfully meet the challenges facing their generation.  

“We look to support the creative and the untapped. We’ve chosen each ADE because we know they have the entrepreneurial mindset to rethink education,” said Jody Allen, co-founder and president of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “The approach of every single ADE has the potential to create a life-changing experience for students – opening them to think in different ways, to be curious and turn newfound knowledge into action.”

In addition to the launch of the ADE program, the Foundation also announced $6.28 million towards 53 grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, financial literacy and organizational support for nonprofit groups. The additional grants awarded by the Foundation during this funding cycle are geared towards organizations in the Pacific Northwest and abroad which run high-impact projects supporting cultural and community centers, rigorous academics, real-world learning and community engagement.

About the ADE Program

While each ADE has their own unique approach, they share a focus on entrepreneurship and engineering education taught in more engaging, practical ways. They are putting to use integrated curriculum approaches, hands-on learning, human-centered design and real world problem solving, designing new ways to learn entrepreneurship and engineering education, and transforming the classroom experience. Three of the ADEs are:  

  • Regan Drew of the Mead School District in Spokane, WA has led the integration of entrepreneurship into the school district’s core STEM curriculum creating “innovators, not just innovations” with a focus on interdisciplinary thinking, entrepreneurship, STEM, creativity and design.
  • Amir Abo-Shaeer of the Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara, CA became a high school physics teacher and has launched a new engineering curriculum at his alma mater because he knew from first-hand experience working as a mechanical engineer that traditional high school science curriculum just doesn’t meet the bar when training students to meet real-world problems.
  • Mike Wierusz of the Northshore School District in Seattle, WA is leading the charge to train students in sustainable engineering design – working towards a triple-bottom line of people, profit and planet – with an integrated curriculum that prioritizes hands-on real-world learning and respect, creativity and action.

The ADEs were chosen through a competitive process where their approach and programs were vetted through careful and rigorous evaluation. After receiving nominations of qualified teachers throughout the West Coast, the Foundation chose 17 educators to apply. Fifteen finalists were then evaluated through a site visit to see the nominee and his or her program in action, and gauge on-the-ground impact. The top seven were chosen as award winners.

About The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation

Launched by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen in 1988, the Allen family’s philanthropy is dedicated to transforming lives and strengthening communities by fostering innovation, creating knowledge and promoting social progress. Since inception, the Foundation has awarded over $494 million to more than 1,400 nonprofit groups to support and advance their critical charitable endeavors in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The Foundation’s funding programs nurture the arts, engage children in learning, address the needs of vulnerable populations, advance scientific and technological discoveries.