kCura, a Chicago-based legal tech company wants the tech community to make an impact in the local community.

That’s the idea behind their Wired to Learn grants, major donations to local schools that promote technology-driven learning. On Monday, kCura and Chicago Public Schools announced Logan Square’s Funston Elementary will be the latest to receive a $250,000 Wired to Learn grant.

Students at Funston at a school assembly announcing the grant (Credit: kCura)
Students at Funston at a school assembly announcing the grant (Credit: kCura)

“Our schools have done tremendous things with the Wired to Learn grant, which has improved access to the cutting edge technology that is vital to a well-rounded 21st century education,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson in a statement. “We appreciate kCura’s continued support of CPS schools, and we are committed to leveraging these resources to make sure our students are prepared for a successful future.”

The Wired to Learn program, which kCura started in 2013, offers schools $250,000 over three years to support a shift in the school’s tech infrastructure. In addition to providing funds, kCura works with schools to create measurable milestones to see if the tech is providing results for students.

Schools apply for the funds, detailing their level of need, internal culture, involvement of parents and teachers, and how a school has previously dealt with major change. 80 percent of their student population has to be eligible for free or reduced lunch, and have less than a 1:1 device-to-student ratio. This year 57 schools applied, kCura said.

kCura said they were impressed by Funston’s community commitment and long-term plans for the tech. The school said it would focus on improving personalized learning, invest in personal devices (such as iPads or Chromebooks) for students, and train teachers on integrating tech in the classroom.

Since launching Wired to Learn, kCura has funded four elementary schools, and two of those schools, Pickard and Ruggles Elementary, both moved up to the highest CPS rating within a year of the grant.

The grant comes at a tough time for the financially beleaguered school district. CPS has become a sticking point between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner (who recently described the district’s schools as “crumbling prisons”) as Illinois Republicans and Democrats battle over school funding, and the budget impasse stretches on. CPS CEO Forrest Claypool recently warned that CPS may be unable to open in the fall if state education funding doesn’t come through.  

We can leverage it to build something bigger than we can do alone

The Wired to Learn program was designed to be open source, said kCura, and they hope that other tech companies and corporations will reach out to see how they can replicate a similar program. kCura’s chief people officer, Dorie Blesoff, said it’s a way to grow the tech community of the future.

“We believe in the power of technology, and we want the next generation to have the tools they need for whatever careers they desire in whatever community they choose,” she said in a statement. “What’s most exciting about Wired to Learn is that we can leverage it to build something bigger than we can do alone. We want to help every interested organization give back and ultimately have a defining impact on the community.”