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Columbus Learning Ecosystem Initiative


Media Contacts: Lori Trent, PAST Foundation -

October 17, 2023

Columbus Learning Ecosystem Initiative: Building Learner Experiences Throughout Columbus to “Amp Up” K-12 Education and Meet the Moment of Opportunity and Economic Expansion

COLUMBUS, Ohio – PAST Foundation is proud to announce a new pilot of a community-based, learner-centered ecosystem has come to life in Columbus, Ohio. A tight partnership of the STEM visionary PAST Foundation, learner-centered leader 100 Roads, and Education Reimagined, the state and global corporate leaders has yielded the development of a pilot K–12 ecosystem. It weaves together learning hubs and dynamic field sites throughout the city, with emerging new “home bases” anchoring young people in relationships and support. The Big Idea is building virtual home bases—safe, nurturing environments where learners and an advisor ground themselves in lasting relationships, forge learning pathways and map progress leveraging and advancing learning hubs—by furthering the 20-year legacy of the 32,000-square foot PAST Foundation Lab, and its five industry-driven innovation labs. Introducing portable learning and innovation labs that travel into neighborhoods for learner exploration.

Community-based, learner-centered ecosystems are designed to align with what our youth and society need—the support to build healthy, productive and family-sustaining futures. In these ecosystems, learning happens throughout and with communities—across safe and nurturing home bases, rich and interesting learning hubs, and real-world field sites—versus set in singular school buildings. Columbus is the fastest growing city in Ohio. As Central Ohio has built its technology infrastructure with 5G, it has attracted several global leaders to build technology and advanced manufacturing operations there. Companies include Honda, manufacturing EV batteries, Intel producing microchips, and data centers for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google. By 2050, the population in Ohio is projected to grow by 30 percent as a result.

While the urgent need for workforce development has sparked this K–12 evolution, this learner-centered ecosystem is fundamentally designed to support the fulfillment, purpose and sense of belonging among learners. It’s developed to ensure young people find their role in the burgeoning community, seize opportunities as businesses grow, and understand ways they can contribute. It’s an endeavor to fundamentally change what K–12 teaching and learning looks like in Columbus.

In September, nearly 100 children from Columbus began learning in this ecosystem. These young people include homeschoolers in elementary, middle and high school, and a group of high schoolers in specific workforce programming with industry partners. The goal is to expand to 600 learners by 2025.

In partnership with Education Reimagined, leaders in diverse communities across the country have already started this work to build locally-driven visions for learning ecosystems, set strategies, and lay the groundwork to bring this to life in partnership with their communities. Sites that have started this work are building out home bases for long-term relationship, learning-journey and identity-development; learning hubs for contextually relevant academic learning and skill-building; and field sites with deeply integrated real-world learning, hands-on experimentation and exploration.

Read the Education Reimagined Press Release here.

About PAST Foundation: PAST, a non-profit organization, is a leader in designing innovative educational opportunities across the nation and around the world, bringing problem-based learning to educators and experiential programs to students. During PAST’s 22 years, we have impacted hundreds of thousands of students and educators while engaging hundreds of businesses and industry leaders. Building a community of learners that helps students prepare to solve the world’s problems is our core outcome.

PAST was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for its Excellence in Innovation in the STEM 2026 vision report, being the only Ohio educational entity included in this publication. In 2021, PAST’s Innovation Lab was featured in Forbes Magazine as a promising example to “Re-imagine High School” and also recognized by the White House Summit on High School Design in 2015.

Connect with us at and learn how to link learning to life.


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