New Projects: Responding to Social Isolation Through Education and the Arts

San Francisco, CA – We are thrilled to introduce the first set of projects from our COVID-19 Challenge Grant cohort.

The projects, focused on Responding to Social Isolation Through Education and the Arts, provide crucial tools and support for educational and cultural institutions navigating remote engagement with their communities. We released the projects at our webinar today; you can watch the video of the event here.

We invite you to read more about the projects below, and to check them out on our website: Aspen Tech Policy Hub Projects. Please also join us by RSVPing for our next webinar, September 30 at 9am PT/12pm ET, on Mapping On- and Off-line Risks in a Pandemic, focused on empowering journalists, researchers, and the public with credible information as they make high-stakes decisions about health and safety.

Cultural Engagement to Mitigate Social Isolation

COVID-19 has presented GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) and performing arts organizations with new, urgent demands to create services and programs that mitigate the effects of social isolation.

In this initiative, a cohort of ten museums, libraries, and performing arts organizations have joined together to collaborate on the accelerated development of experimental digital programs to mitigate social isolation. The organizations, based in eight states across the United States, range from museums and performing arts organizations, to a major public library system, to a small non-profit that uses museum experiences to serve patients of dementia and their caregivers. Participants will receive expert coaching and support in digital strategy, design thinking, creative development, and online audience engagement techniques. The project team hopes other institutions will follow on from the initial example in the near future.

The Suggestion Box

Uncertainty due to COVID-19, growing awareness of systemic inequities, technological barriers, and disruptions to the social fabric of schools have made teaching, planning, and supporting students much harder. The Suggestion Box invites schools and educators to describe their decisions in two simple sentences and to share them on social media channels used by students and families. Sharing short-term decisions increases trust and offers an alternative means for students and families, who are often excluded from planning, to provide feedback and share their experiences. Schools have described the process as simple, powerful, and liberating. 

Learn more about these and other projects here.