First Foundation Grants + Two CES Innovations Awards = Exciting Day at Versal

Today we couldn’t be more pleased to announce our first Versal Foundation grants (press release).versal-foundation-logo-sm

Out of all of the applications submitted to date, three courses exemplified our mission to inspire the creation of innovative online courses with the potential to improve people’s lives:

How to Create and Use Free, Clean Energy – a course that will explain the physics principles of clean solar and wind energy, and provide a practical how-to guide for their simple capture, storage and use. It will demonstrate how communities can embrace free energy to heat water and even how to make a battery. (Jianing Han, visiting assistant professor of physics at Hollins University)

The concept of transformative education fostered by the Versal Foundation is really powerful when you stop and think about it,” said Jianing Han, visiting assistant professor of physics at Hollins University. “This idea that online learning has the very real potential to transform and make the world a better place, it’s not just a dream. It’s happening, and I’m really proud to be a part of it.

Empowering Underprivileged Girls in Academic and Career Development – a course for middle school girls in underserved communities to explore and identify their academic career interests, with a particular focus on STEM careers.  Featuring video interviews of a diverse array of inspiring women leaders created by local non-profit CareerGirls.org, this course will help girls learn about career options they may not have considered. The lessons will provide insight into other topics related to academic and career success, including what it means to be a leader, overcoming obstacles and the importance of life­long learning. Lessons will draw on Common Core standards of literacy and critical thinking. (Lisa Tenorio, tech industry veteran and educator)

Girls in underserved communities don’t always have access to role models and information about career and academic planning. Yet today most do have access to the Internet,” said Lisa Tenorio, the grant awardee for a Empowering Underprivileged Girls in Academic and Career Development. “This grant will help me develop the materials and exercises to best teach the skills to inspire a bright future for girls, especially in STEM fields. And Versal’s course creator will make it easy to create and publish a fun, interesting and interactive course. I’m excited to get started.

Basic Biology for Everyone – a highly interactive course that will use images, video, quizzes, expressions, and references to engage middle school and high school students in a five-part basic biology course focusing on the subject’s key ideas and core disciplinary knowledge as identified by the Next Generation Science Standards. (Joshua Rosenberg, a doctoral student at Michigan State University; Frank Jones, Southern Regional Director for Wikipedia’s education outreach program; and Aaron Rosenberg, dual masters student at the University of Connecticut)

A learner-centered approach is missing from many educational resources,” Joshua Rosenberg, a doctoral student at Michigan State University who received a grant for his course Basic Biology for Everyone. “When teaching teens, for example, the challenge is identifying ways to take advantage of and engage students’ interests. An interactive, online Versal course in science will inspire them roll up their sleeves. And we’re not just talking about teens in the developed world. Internet access is growing exponentially. We’re building a course that will be forever free and available to anyone in the world who finds it valuable.

Congratulations to these very deserving education innovators! A special thanks to our panel of judges.

The Versal Foundation grant program is continuing to accept applications. Additional grants from $1,000  to $25,000 will be considered in two categories:

  • Transformative Education: courses with a profound potential for improving people’s lives. Individuals, not-for-profits and NGOs with domain expertise are encouraged to apply.

  • Foundational Education: courses covering basic literacy, arithmetic, science and related topics. In a nutshell, core knowledge that should be readily available to every single person on the planet.

To apply, visit the Versal Foundation website at versal.org.

AwardGraphic2Last but not least, we have one more piece of news for the day: moments ago the Consumer Electronics Association named Versal a CES Innovations Design and Engineering Honoree!* And we were awarded in two categories – “Tech for a Better World” (which is amazing because it validates our values) and “Software and Mobile Apps” (also amazing, because the competition is so high). Congratulations to our entire team for all of their hard work and effort over the past year since we started this amazing journey.

*The CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award is based upon descriptive materials submitted to the judges.