Learn Deep Fellows Program Details 2022-23

Program Summary

Learn Deep’s Fellows Program is a community based approach to equip and prepare Milwaukee area teachers to provide K-12 students with real world Learning Experiences that develop the talents students need to go out into the world. This includes the abilities to work effectively as a team, take on open ended challenges, and present and share their work to an authentic audience.

The Fellows Program takes cohorts of educators through a three year journey to develop, pilot and refine real-world challenges for students. Fellows work in collaboration with community partners from industry, higher-ed, and nonprofits to create interdisciplinary Learning Experiences that allow students to think deeply about the problems they take on. These experiences expose students to tools and modes of thinking that allow them to address real-world challenges. As important, students have the chance to work with industry professionals in a variety of roles that intersect with the challenges students take on.


The Fellows Program has three key goals:

  • Engage a diverse mix of students in the use of tools and modes of thinking to explore and take on real-world problems that have meaning for them;
  • Equip a diverse set of teachers with the skills, experience and connections that allow them to carry on this work outside of the Fellows Program;
  • Deepen the network of Milwaukee area educators inspired to deliver collaborative, authentic Learning Experiences so that more educators are both willing and able to do so.

Fellows Commitment

The program expects a three year commitment from Fellows that includes work over the summer to envision and design a project of meaningful scope their students will take on during the following school year. The STEM Studio workshop held over a two week period the last week of July and the first week of August is where Fellows identify shared goals, create the vision for the projects they will offer students and build the relationships with their peers in the program that support ongoing collaboration. A commitment to fully participate in the STEM Studio sessions is a requirement for acceptance into the program.

Learn Deep hosts monthly one hour check-in calls on Zoom for Fellows to share progress, ideas, and concerns. These calls are an important opportunity for cross-school collaboration and knowledge sharing. All Fellows are expected to participate in these calls. In between these sessions, hosts a second Zoom call each month for Fellows Office Hours. Fellows who have questions for the program team or what to share or hear from their program peers may take advantage of these meetings to do so.

In addition to the design and implementation of these projects, Fellows are expected to share their work and experience with colleagues and community members outside of the Fellows Program. This includes a chance for students participating in a Fellows project to share their work with their school community.

Fellows will also be expected to participate in at least four Collab Lab sessions over the course of each school year. Learn Deep’s Collab Labs bring educators and community partners together to explore opportunities to engage students in authentic work. These monthly evening sessions use a workshop format and small group discussions to explore a given topic. Collab Labs will focus on different aspects of design or implementation of Fellows projects. They provide a chance not just to share the work, but solicit advice and ideas from colleagues and community members who are not part of the Fellows Program.

School Commitment

While nothing interesting happens in a classroom without a teacher willing to say yes, it is difficult for that work to spread without the support of school leadership. Applicants are asked to include a letter of support from the school or district leadership. These letters should include:

  • an acknowledgement of the time commitment for teachers involved in the program and the support they will need in order to bring their projects to life for students.
  • acceptance of the $1,150 annual participation fee for your involvement

Focus Areas

The focus area for the first year of the Fellows Program was Water, and the Fellows designed a series of water related projects. In the second year of the program, we will introduce two new focus areas — Social Impact, and Engineering. Fellows may choose to extend and evolve the Water projects drawing from what was learned over the course of implementation for those projects, or to participate in the design and pilot new efforts with an engineering or social impact focus.

Eligibility/Selection Criteria

The Fellows Program is open to 5th through 12th grade classroom teachers in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Waukesha County schools (public, private, charter). Teachers/staff who serve in a support role for classroom teachers may apply to the program as a partner of a classroom teacher who has applied. The program will accept a total of 24 teachers into the second Fellows cohort.

Preference will be given to:

  • Educators who serve a diverse/disadvantaged student population
  • Educators who apply with a colleague who will partner with them in the work.
  • Paired applicants that represent different disciplines.

Each cohort will be selected by a review panel that includes stakeholders from K-12, industry, higher-ed, and organizations that support the work.


To pull together partners and implement a meaningful, real world project for students is a difficult challenge for teachers to take on alone. The Fellows Program is designed to overcome that barrier through the support that community partners and colleagues stand ready to provide.

The Learn Deep Program team will serve as a main point of contact for teacher Fellows. This includes coordination of project and program events, adviser and mentor assignments, and help with resolving issues that may arise over the duration of the program.

Program Peers

Fellows will work in teams to design and implement their project. Teams will also have the opportunity to get feedback and suggestions from Fellows working on other projects. Second year Fellows will help guide the work of incoming Fellows in addition to taking on their own new or re-imagined Learning Experience.

Coaching/check-in sessions

The program team conducts regular sessions with Fellows to understand how the program and pilot project are working, and what adjustments might be necessary. This includes a mix of in-person and virtual meetings with teachers working on each project. The program team is also available to meet with students and teachers at each teacher’s discretion.

Program Partners

Program Partners from industry, higher-ed and nonprofit organizations work with Fellows to envision and design Learning Experiences (‘student projects’). They also help project teams identify where their own programming or opportunities for on-site experiences might be leveraged to support teachers and students as they take on a Fellows project.


Each project has a pool of individuals that function as advisers from outside organizations to support teachers and students in their work on the project. This may include participation in student design work reviews, classroom visits, or responding to questions from students or teachers.

Near Peer Mentors

Learn Deep works with higher education partners to enlist college students pursuing degrees related to project focus areas to serve as near peer mentors. These near peer mentors are paired with a Fellows teacher to support his/her students in their work on Fellows projects.

inspirEd Community

Learn Deep hosts ‘inspirEd’, a growing private online Collaborative Learning Community for Milwaukee area educators and community partners. inspirEd complements in-person workshops and meetings. It is free for anyone interested in connecting and working with others looking for collaboration aimed at evolving student learning. Fellows have access to one of the dedicated spaces within inspirEd to collaborate with colleagues and partners in the Program. Fellows may also tap the larger inspirEd community for ideas, feedback, and support in work inside or outside of the Fellows Program. Learn more about inspirEd.

Materials/Partner Programming

Fellows projects include a $600 budget per teacher each year for materials and/or outside programming that supports project implementation. Fellows work with their project team to decide how to allocate those funds.

Fellows Stipend

Fellows receive a $750 stipend per year for their participation in the program, to be paid at three points over the year: at the end of the summer program and at the end of each semester.


Over the course of each year of the Fellows Program, teachers will work in teams to develop a program guide for the project they design. This guide will include:

  • Student journey map — project events, curriculum connections, roles for partners
  • Resources Fellows might incorporate in their Learning Experience plans
  • Specific experiences teachers or students should have before or during work on the project
  • A directory of community partners
  • 3rd party programming (courses, explainer videos, etc.) tapped to support the project
  • A timeline for program partners that outlines key opportunities for partner support, when that support is needed and the time commitment that may be required to do so.

At the conclusion of the project, teachers and partners will participate in a debrief session to document lessons learned and potential extensions

These documents and related project resources will be made available on inspirEd to Fellows and other members. Learn Deep will promote the availability of these materials to prospective community members.


The annual cycle for the Fellows Program begins with an application and selection process in January.

January 17th – March 18th 2022

Application period

April 12th, 2022

Selection and announcement of Fellows

May 2022

Fellows will kick-off with a working session that brings educators and community partners together to explore shared goals and interests and generate an inventory of potential projects. This inventory will be published in the inspirEd community and available to Fellows and community partners.

June/July 2022

Professional Development Field Experiences
Fellows are encouraged to participate in professional development that can help inform their thinking about the design or implementation of Fellows projects. These opportunities include:

  • PLTW Gateway training classes
  • Project GUTS training through Marquette University
  • MSOE STEM Center
  • Gearbox Labs
  • Others TBD

Given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, we anticipate that some Exploratory PD sessions may be conducted virtually.
Pre work

Educator/Partner Interviews

To help build connections between Fellows and program partners, we’ll ask each fellow to lead and record a conversation with one of the program partners. The structure for that conversation will have both participants share what drives them in the work they do, the challenges they face, and opportunities they see to address those challenges. The goal of this work is to give both educators and partners a better sense of one person they may be working with, where their passions might align, and the capabilities each might be able to offer.

Interview recordings will be posted within inspirEd where they may be accessed by Fellows Program participants and partners.

Envisioning Preparation

Prior to the STEM Studio sessions, Fellows will meet with the program team to share what they heard during their educator/partner interview. As part of that discussion we’ll have the Fellows inventory:
problems faced or posed by partners which might prove interesting for students to take on;
what educators would like to see students experience as part of a real world challenge;
the attributes of a real world learning challenge for students that are key to creating a valuable experience for students.

July 25 – August 5 STEM Studio

Fellows STEM Studio
Fellows STEM Studio

The STEM Studio will bring Fellows and community partners together to design a collaborative, real world Learning Experience for students that will run during the 2022-23 school year. That design will include the resources and programming teachers and or their students will need as they take on the work or prepare to do so.

Learning Experience Design Workshop:

  • Fellows Goals
  • Project idea generation/initial vision
  • Key events, partner roles for each project
  • Experiences and exercises to prepare students and/or teachers to take on the project
  • Connections to curriculum standards
  • Working time to validate key assumptions, document project plans
  • Feedback and review opportunities with educators and program partners
  • Presentation of projects, celebration with program partners

Program partners, as a group, will participate in the STEM Studio review and feedback sessions. Individual partners and supporters will drop in on other days where their particular expertise or experience is of particular value to that day’s work.

2022-23 School Year

Fellows projects will run during some portion of the 2022-23 school year. The duration and timing will depend on the nature of the project, but we anticipate that projects would kick off some time in October and wrap up by early spring.

Over the course of a project, we anticipate three events that would bring students from participating schools together:

  • a project kick-off gathering,
  • a mid-point review,
  • and a final presentation or showcase.

Fellows project teams will work with partners to identify opportunities for experiences that get students out of the classroom and on-site with community partners. The nature and timing of these on-site experiences will be driven by the arc of the project. On-site experiences will be designed with the intent of supporting students in their work on their fellows project with a goal that students might participate in two such experiences per semester.

Learn Deep’s Collab Labs are held in the evening on the second Thursday of each month. The tentative schedule for the 2022-23 school year is: The October Collab Lab will be used to introduce the Fellows projects. April’s will focus on the Fellows experience running the projects they designed. The focus of intervening Collab Labs will be determined in Collaboration with the Fellows to address issues and opportunities they identify.

Distance Learning

We expect that our May kick off session will be in-person. Exploratory PD may be virtual or in-person at the discretion of the provider. STEM studio design sessions are planned as in-person workshops. As part of the design process, the team will develop options for both in-person and virtual work for meetings and project events. The approach to follow will be decided as we gain a better understanding of what the 2022-2023 school year will look like.

How to Apply

An application form for the Fellows Program is available here: http://bit.ly/LDfellows2022

That form asks for the following information:

  • Contact information for the applicant
  • School, grade level, focus of the applicant
  • The names of colleagues applying to the program as part of their school’s team.
  • In our afterschool programming that the applicant/their students leverage
  • A statement of why the applicant wants to participate in the program
  • A statement of how the applicant hopes their students will benefit from their participation.
  • A brief description of a time as an educator when the applicant used a new method, idea, or technology, and how that went.
  • Key elements of the type if learning experience the applicant would like to offer their students
  • Topics the applicant is interested in having their student explore as part of Fellows project
  • The names of three companies or organizations that the applicant or their colleagues at school work with the most.
  • A commitment to participate in the STEM Studio workshop

Applications are due on or before Friday, March 18.

In addition to the application form, teachers are asked to provide a letter of support from your school or district leadership that acknowledges the time commitment of fellows and the participation fee to be paid by the school on behalf of each fellow accepted into the program. Letters of support should be sent via email with the subject line “LD Fellows Recommendation” to fellows@learndeep.org no later than Friday, March 18, 2022.

Program Partners

Current Program Partners

The full list of program partners for 2022-23 will be announced in March.

Learn Deep
Program design, management, recruitment

Strategic Industry Partners

Northwestern Mutual
Program sponsor
Industry advisers

Badger Meter
Program sponsor
Industry advisers

Industry adviser
Expertise for project and program review
Leverage programming/expertise to support teachers and students

Higher Education Partners

Leverage space and existing programming to support teachers and students
Recruitment of near peer mentors

Marquette University Computer Science
Project GUTS training
Near peer mentors through service learning requirements
Data Infrastructure development to support work of students involved in project through service learning requirements

Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin
Facilitate connections to freshwater faculty and students across UW System campuses
Program and project review

UWM School of Freshwater Sciences
Facilitate connections to faculty and students within the School of Freshwater Sciences
Provide space for project events
Program and project review

Program Support

Beyond STEM
Program and project review
Leverage programming/expertise to support teachers and students

Gearbox Labs
Project ideation, design, review
Leverage programming/expertise around the use of Arduino sensors to support teachers and students

Project Lead the Way
Program and project review
Summer Professional Development

Provide opportunity within Green Schools conference to showcase program projects
Expertise for project and program review
Leverage programming/expertise to support teachers and students

Riveredge Nature Center
Expertise for project and program review
Leverage programming/expertise to support teachers and students

Expertise for project and program review
Leverage programming/expertise to support teachers and students

STEAM Milwaukee
Expertise for project and program review
Lending library and support for STEAM materials

Partnership Opportunities

In addition to the chance to build relationships with new community partners, schools and Fellows should look at their involvement in the program as an opportunity to deepen engagement with partners they are already working with. Existing school partners are encouraged to participate throughout the process to envision, design, and execute fellows projects.

If you work with other partners you would like to see as part of the Fellows Program, please let us know. There are a number of ways for partners to get involved.

2023-24 Collab Labs

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