Learning Spaces

NYC Opens Challenge to Rethink School Design

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is starting an initiative to build 20 new schools and transform 20 existing schools through a design competition. Imagine Schools NYC is a challenge where school and community members create teams to submit "innovative ideas for academically rigorous, engaging and equitable new schools."

Each of the applications must describe:

  • What is your design team’s bold idea?
  • How is that idea grounded in what it will take to prepare students to meet the global and local challenges of the twenty-first century? 
  • How will your school concept prepare students for the complexities of a fast-changing future, including the world of work?

Imagine Schools NYC is a public-private partnership with funding from the XQ Institute and Robin Hood.

"This is a big endorsement of public education in New York City. With this support, we're going to help educators, students and communities come together to design new schools and re-design existing ones that will challenge our kids and increase academic rigor. I want to see great schools in every neighborhood," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

XQ, a school-design nonprofit, has committed $10 million to fund up to 10 high school plans.  These schools will join XQ's national network of community-developed schools.

Robin Hood, a nonprofit focused on poverty, will support the creation of up to 10 new Imagine Schools dedicated to under-resourced students in New York City and is committing $5 million to the initiative. The nonprofit will also give $1 million to support the expansion of DOE's District Charter Partnership to support current and new district leaders with professional development.

DOE started working on the initiative earlier this year and held design sessions for principals in the spring and summer. The first round of applications to create the 40 reimagined schools are due by Nov. 6.

Teams who advance from the first round will be invited to participate in additional application rounds in the winter and spring and the first cohort of funded new schools and reimagined schools will be announced in May 2020.

Interested teams can apply for Imagine NYC Schools here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.