Transformative, Evidence-Based Ideas

Pods in Action: Neighborhood North

Case Study: A museum of play

Neighborhood North, a play-oriented community museum in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, had just opened when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and schools closed. The museum’s mission is to increase educational equity in the community. According to Neighborhood North staff, many students did not have access to Internet connections or computers necessary for online learning and were home alone because their essential-worker parents did not have access to childcare.

Neighborhood North leaders immediately saw a need to support students at risk of falling behind in school with academic learning and social and emotional development and support families by providing childcare.

Key Lessons
  1. A productive collaboration with the local school district—absent in many learning pods elsewhere—proved valuable in recruiting students and providing effective support.
  2. A lack of alignment among staff about the mission and purpose of the learning pods hindered operations.
  3. An effort to hire staff who shared students’ racial and ethnic backgrounds helped the pods provide a welcoming and effective learning environment and ultimately benefited students of all races.

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