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Groundbreaking Teacher Training Program for Pre-Service Teachers Launches with Funding from ECMC Foundation

July 27, 2017

Pilot program, "Out of the Gate," will deliver Project-Based Learning training to pre-service teachers, in addition to School of Education faculty and K-12 cooperating teachers

LOS ANGELES (July 27, 2017)– ECMC Foundation announced today it will commit $724,159 to the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) to support the implementation of the organization’s groundbreaking training program, Out of the Gate. This pilot program will train School of Education faculty members, K-12 cooperating teachers and pre-service teachers how to implement Project-Based Learning (PBL) in their classrooms. Traditionally, only teachers already in the classroom have received PBL training from BIE.

Through PBL, students learn by investigating complex questions, problems or challenges, and produce a real-world solution or product. PBL is a deeper learning instructional practice, which prepares students for college and career by integrating the mastery of academic content with the development of key competencies, such a critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and effective communication in real-world contexts.

“While deeper learning has been shown to be effective for students of all backgrounds, instructional practices like Project Based Learning are especially effective for students from underserved backgrounds,” said Kyle Miller, senior program director, ECMC Foundation. “ECMC Foundation is thrilled to partner with the Buck Institute for Education in the Out of the Gate initiative.  Providing this type of training to pre-service teachers before they step foot into a classroom will ensure that more students in high-need schools benefit from learning through PBL.”

While there is evidence showing that deeper learning pedagogy helps underserved students achieve academically, many teacher preparation programs do not train pre-service teachers in PBL. Providing PBL training for pre-service teachers better prepares them to use PBL “out of the gate” in their K-12 classrooms.

BIE will partner with four Teacher Education Programs (TEP) at Schools of Education – Otterbein University in Westerville, OH; Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI; University of Mary in Bismarck, ND; and Francis Marion University in Florence, SC – over a three-year period to provide a cohesive experience for faculty members, K-12 cooperating teachers and pre-service teachers.  The TEPs are partnering with mostly high-need schools and districts, where students come from low-income, disadvantaged backgrounds.

Each team begins the experience by participating in a project as learners.  Teacher-trainees then work with faculty members and cooperating teachers in partner districts to practice implementing PBL.

"We are excited to support the capacity ​of teacher education programs and cooperating teachers in partner school districts​ as they build their cap​ability to develop new teachers who have ​the knowledge and skills to design and facilitate high quality P​roject Based Learning​ 'out of the gate,'” said Bob Lenz, BIE Executive Director. “This is a unique and important opportunity for ​the Buck Institute for Education, teacher education programs and district partners to learn together how to prepare new teachers who are ready to engage all learners, including those furthest from opportunity, in deeper learning through ​Project Based Learning." 

In 2016, BIE received $540,000 from ECMC Foundation for the planning phase of Out of the Gate. During the implementation phase, BIE will also evaluate the pilot program to determine the impact and effectiveness of expanding PBL training to pre-service teachers.

About Buck Institute for Education
Buck Institute for Education (BIE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teachers to prepare students for successful lives by helping them to adopt Project Based Learning (PBL).  BIE’s vision is for all students – no matter where they live or their background – to have access to high quality PBL so they deepen their learning and achieve success in college, career, and life.

In an effort to promote and support the use of high quality PBL, the BIE focuses efforts on building the capacity of teachers and school leaders. Through professional development and product development and dissemination, BIE builds the capacity of teachers to design and facilitate high quality PBL and the capacity of school and system leaders to set the conditions for teachers to implement great projects with all students.

About ECMC Foundation
Based in Los Angeles, ECMC Foundation’s mission is to inspire and facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes – especially among underserved populations—through evidence-based innovation. The Foundation makes investments in three focus areas: Teacher and Leader Development, College Success and Career Readiness. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis. Learn more about ECMC Foundation by visiting

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