Education Arm of The Buck Institute – PBLWorks – Receives a $2.9 Million Grant from the Bezos Family Foundation

Grant will fund creation of a free culturally-responsive and adaptable social studies and civics curriculum focused on PBL for grades 4-12

The Buck Institute for Education (dba PBLWorks) was awarded a $2.9 million grant from the Bezos Family Foundation to design an innovative social studies and civics curriculum that uses a Project Based Learning (PBL) model. The new PBL units are being designed for teachers of grades 4-12 and will be available free as Open Educational Resources (OER).

The curriculum units are being designed with teachers in Colorado and California, in collaboration with experts in culturally-responsive teaching, and with a curriculum design team at the Buck Institute for Education (BIE).

The project draws on recent studies published and supported by Lucas Education Research (LER), a subdivision of the George Lucas Education Foundation (GLEF), which underscore the impact that PBL, professional development, and high-quality instructional materials can have on student outcomes across grade levels, racial/ethnic groups, and socioeconomic groups.

In addition to the work being done through the Bezos Family Foundation grant, BIE is also partnering with the Kentucky Department of Education to design culturally-responsive K-12 science/STEM units.

The projects are part of a larger BIE initiative to provide high quality curriculum materials for K-12 focused on themes such as racial, social, and environmental justice. Over the next five years BIE, through its new PBLNow division, will develop culturally-responsive PBL curricula in all content areas for teachers in grades K-12. Teachers will be able to access all of the curriculum for free as OER units to support impact and equity for all students, especially Black and Brown students.

“Offering high-quality and ready-made PBL-based curricula to educators at no charge will increase the likelihood that teachers implement high quality projects, and increase impact for all students,” said Kathleen Schwille, executive director of PBLNow. “PBLNow curriculum units will work seamlessly with PBLWorks professional learning services to support teachers, schools and districts in enacting high quality PBL experiences.”

Bob Lenz, chief executive officer of PBLWorks, said, “The support provided by the Bezos Family Foundation offers an opportunity for teachers in schools and districts across the United States and world to engage all students, especially Black and Brown students, in deeper learning to achieve success in college, career, and life.”

“This new line of work builds on BIE’s 30 years of success building the capacity of teachers and school and district leaders to implement Gold Standard Project Based Learning through high quality professional development,” Lenz continued. “This project acknowledges the need for teachers to have ready access to high quality instructional materials to achieve student outcomes.”

For more information about the Buck Institute for Education, visit

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