top of page
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Youtube

PAST Foundation Receives Learning Innovation Fund Grant


Media Contacts: Lori Trent, PAST Foundation -

March 1, 2024

PAST Foundation Receives Learning Innovation Fund Grant

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Learning Innovation Fund, an initiative of Getting Smart Collective, selected the PAST Foundation to pilot a microschool model in partnership with the University of Cincinnati School of Information Technology. The Early IT Microschool powered by PAST Foundation is one of only 10 awardees. A Big Push for Small Schools, a grant program of the Learning Innovation Fund, is aimed at catalyzing innovation and growth in microschool models. The grant program focuses on promoting quality, equity, and accessibility by fostering a network of microschool leaders, providing technical assistance, and offering grants to propel the development of these innovative learning environments.


A media event and grant announcement will be held at PAST Innovation Lab, 1003 Kinnear Rd., Columbus, OH 43212, on Thursday, March 28, 2024, at 10 am and will feature presentations, panel discussions, and interactive sessions with attendance from PAST Foundation, Getting Smart Collective, the University of Cincinnati, Upper Arlington Schools, Metro Early College High School and students. This event aims to raise awareness about the Early IT Microschool, attract potential students, and foster partnerships with local businesses and organizations.


“We absolutely love to connect with higher education partners, and we are fortunate to have several top-level institutions in our state. Not only is this program good for our community but it also provides a pathway that is extremely inclusionary for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities. One of PAST’s initiatives is doing everything we can to ensure that the innovative learning opportunities PAST creates are accessible to all students,” said Annalies Corbin, President & CEO of PAST Foundation. “If students cannot see it, they cannot be it. At PAST, we do everything in our power to make sure all students can experience these opportunities.” 


“We are excited to bring this opportunity to Upper Arlington students,” said UA Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Hunt.  “Ensuring there are multiple pathways to success has been a primary theme of feedback gathered from our students, families, and staff members. This pathway offers students a great head start on their futures.”

The Early IT Microschool is an innovative partnership that challenges the status quo for college access and affordability while significantly increasing the quantity, quality, and diversity of IT talent. The information technology sector is a strategic component of economic development in the State of Ohio. The demand for skilled information technology professionals continues to grow beyond the current capacity of the educational system. An effective, scalable, and sustainable talent development system is integral to Ohio's economic competitiveness.

Dr. Hazem Said, the director of UC’s School of Information Technology, noted, “We found that everyone who is willing to put in the effort can succeed in information technology if given an opportunity to practice hands-on technical skills, communication skills, and problem-solving skills. Our partnership with PAST opens the door for high school students to start their journey early and to seamlessly transition to any of the undergraduate programs offered by the School of Information Technology.” Kelly Broscheid, associate director for the Early IT program, said, “We partner with school districts and educational institutions to remove barriers for both teachers and students in order to prepare world-class information technology and cybersecurity professionals.”


About Getting Smart Collective and the Learning Innovation Fund:

The Getting Smart Collective has been an important part of the education innovation landscape for over a decade. The non-profit actively builds the future of learning by designing, accelerating, and amplifying equitable innovations that empower all people to thrive and lead in a complex world. Through extended advocacy, grantmaking, and storytelling campaigns, Getting Smart Collective has worked with countless partners, organizations, and schools to focus on innovations that drive equity.

The “Big Push for Small Schools” is a multi-year initiative led by the Learning Innovation Fund arm of Getting Smart Collective, aimed at catalyzing innovation and growth in microschool models. These microschools, rooted in a historical tradition of cooperative and small-scale learning, are envisioned to become diverse, sustainable, and impactful alternatives within the educational landscape. This initiative focuses on promoting quality, equity, and accessibility by fostering a network of microschool leaders, providing technical assistance, and offering grants to propel the development of these innovative learning environments.

About the University of Cincinnati & the Early IT Program:

The University of Cincinnati offers students a balance of educational excellence and real-world experience.

UC is a public research university with an enrollment of nearly 48,000 students and is ranked No. 4 in the nation for co-ops and internships by U.S. News & World Report (No. 1 among public institutions). Powered by a total annual FY23 budget of $1.656 billion and an endowment of $1.8 billion (among the top 25 public universities in the U.S. and 79th largest in the U.S. and Canada), UC has a regional economic impact of $10.6 billion – and statewide, UC increases the economic base by $22.7 billion

The School of Information Technology (SoIT) is a national leader in studying solutions and needs that connect people, information, and the technology of the time. The SoIT is home to Ohio's first Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Information Technology. In addition, it is home to Ohio's first ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity. The SoIT has been growing at 20% annually and currently serves more than 2400 students. The SoIT is home to several centers including an NSA/DHS Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, the Information Technology Solutions Center, the Ohio Cyber Range Institute, Applied Machine Learning and Intelligence Center, and the SMART Synergies Lab. 


The SoIT is a diverse, interdisciplinary, team-oriented, dynamic, and entrepreneurial environment. It empowers individuals to become passionate, solution-minded Information Technology professionals by fostering continuous innovation, research, leadership development, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and real-world experience. More information about the School can be found at

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. For nearly 25 years, PAST has impacted over 2.75 million students and thousands of 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.


bottom of page