Highlights from our trip to SXSW EDU 2024

Early this March, Siegel staff members from our research, grants, and external engagement team traveled to Austin, Texas, for SXSW EDU 2024.  We met with old and new partners, attended learning sessions, and hosted events throughout the week with a dedicated focus on working together to imagine what the future of education may look like.

We’re excited to share some of the best parts of our trip below. 

Futures Studio with the Stanford d.school

For the third consecutive year, we collaborated with the Stanford d.school to curate a lounge experience tailored to ignite creativity and inspiration for teachers, administrators, students, and educational leaders alike.  

This year’s Futures Studio created the space for conference attendees to envision the future of education and delve into their aspirations through hands-on activity stations led by d.school staff and partners.  Participants were guided through experiences such as crafting a zine, creating a mixtape manifesto, recording a podcast, recording a rhyme, or writing a letter to your future self.  Promoting collaboration, artistic expression, and knowledge exchange, the space, filled with cozy couches and places to rest, also served as a sanctuary for relaxation and reflection.

On the third day of hosting the exhibit, the d.school transformed the space once more to a learning library where hundreds of books, resources, and cutting-edge tools were put out on display.  Attendees who had earned a “d.coin” through participation in earlier activity stations were welcomed back to the lounge, where they could redeem their token. They were encouraged to select any resource from the collection that would aid in materializing their individual visions for the future of education.

We capped our three days in the lounge with a celebration of our shared future at the event Futures Unplugged.  Teachers, leaders, students, parents, and creators took to the stage to share their visions through singing, rapping, poetry, dance, and spoken word.  

We’re immensely grateful to our esteemed friends and partners at the Stanford d.School, who mobilized their remarkable network of partners to activate the space and make it one of the most memorable experiences at the conference.  We thank you so much for another wonderful year of collaboration!

Supporting Media Partners

Local news serves a critical role alongside more traditional infrastructure in the maintenance of our social fabric by informing, engaging, and equipping citizens to be active participants in their communities. Education media organizations in particular are vital to informing the public about education issues, holding institutions accountable, amplifying the voices of educators, students, and families, and helping to shape public discourse around education policy. 

It is with that spirit that we invested in the “care and maintenance” of the press at SXSW EDU. We outfitted the press suite with self-care items (including chargers, comfortable furniture, face masks, and snacks), hosted a catered breakfast for reporters to connect and share with one another, and sponsored the Press Happy Hour to celebrate the important work of journalists and journalism-serving organizations. 

Learning Landscapes Challenge @ SXSW EDU

In continuation of celebrating the launch of the Learning Landscapes Challenge, our partners from Walton Family Foundation, Luminary Labs, and Education Reimagined joined us in hosting a breakfast at SXSW EDU.  Participants across all roles were invited to join, whether interested in serving as a judge or mentor, or helping to spread the word among potential entrants.  The breakfast began with a panel featuring Siegel Vice President and Head of Grantmaking Joshua Elder and Senior Program Officer of the Education Program for Walton Family Foundation Jamie Jutila, in which they shared their aspirations and motivations for the challenge, and concluded with an open forum for participants to ask questions. 

Panel Participation

Our first panel of the week, Small Organizations, Big Impact: Redefining Success & Scale, was moderated by Siegel Vice President and Head of Grantmaking Joshua Elder.  The panel was made up by three of our grantees and partners: Sunmoon Jang from Communitas America, Jerelyn Rodriguez from The Knowledge House, and Michael Zigman from NYC FIRST.   The discussion was an opportunity to explore and elevate a topic that we at Siegel are particularly passionate about – small organizations and measuring impact – and was the only panel of the entire conference dedicated to addressing smaller organizational size.  Listen to the recording of the panel here.

Moderated by CEO of the Chronicle of Philanthropy Stacy Palmer, the panel How Disruptive Philanthropy Is Reshaping the World of Giving featured our President and Executive Director Katy Knight as well as Hector Mujica from Google and Michelle Cheang from Catalyze.  The panel highlighted how the relationship between funders and grantees is and should continue to change, and how philanthropy can reinforce the shift in practice.  Listen to the recording of the panel here.

Siegel Vice President and Head of Grantmaking Joshua Elder closed out the week moderating a panel on Grantmaking Strategies That Can Transform Cities Nationwide.  Featured on the panel were Kamau Bobb from Constellations Center at Georgia Tech, Courtney English from the City of Atlanta, and Antiba Mbiwan from Zeist Foundation.  The panel was both an exploration of strategies to support sustainable and equitable growth for students in the face of gentrification and systemic inequalities, and how our work in Atlanta over the past year has navigated some of these issues through cross-sector partnerships.  Listen to the recording of the panel here

We’re grateful to all friends and partners that took time from the busy week to meet with us and participate in our activities and sessions.  While we continue to rest and recover from SXSW EDU 2024, we are already dreaming up and looking forward to what our engagement could look like in 2025!