EdExploreSRQ.com went live during August 2011 with 25 organizations and 111 explorations. As with most launches, you worry about carrying the momentum through to the second year, staving off waning enthusiasm.
But that didn’t happen.
This year, 29 organizations already posted with more than 140 explorations available for the new school year.
In addition to the organizations, another 18 teaching artists came on board through the Arts and Cultural Alliance training process. Teaching artists offer “artist residencies” at schools working with teachers. All of these explorations are linked to standards and benchmarks and directly impact student learning.
For-profit organizations also are eligible to offer explorations this year. They need to meet the same nonprofit criteria, be in good standing with the Better Business Bureau and follow marketing guidelines. Proposals on financial literacy experiences have already been submitted.
Improvements have been made to the website – icons will make it easier to sort explorations. Testimonials can be posted to give valuable feedback. A new feature gives users option to get regular updates on new explorations and highlights.
Getting the word out continues to challenge us. As of January 2012, teacher surveys showed that 25 percent had visited the site – peer teachers and principals were our most effective promoters. To add to all of the upgrades, EdExplore now has a Facebook page.
On August 27, 4:30-6:30 p.m., the Arts and Cultural Alliance will host a showcase at Ringling College of Art and Design Roskamp Exhibition Hall. It’s an opportunity for teachers to connect with exploration providers and discover tips for grant writing and collaboration.
The Community Foundation of Sarasota County also agreed to incorporate the EdExploreSRQ icon on the Giving Partner profiles of organizations who offer EdExplore experiences. This connection is a gem for donors interested in experiential learning for kids.