Classroom of the Future Foundation: 25 Years of Innovation
CFF has been in existence for 25 years. Supported by the San Diego County Office of Education and the local business community, CFF’s initial focus in 1997 was to raise the capital necessary to build a regional technology hub that could shape the future of innovation in San Diego’s public schools. The Joe Rindone Regional Technology Center (JRRTC) was completed in 2000 and quickly became the center of educator capacity building and student preparation around emerging technologies in San Diego County. Today, the center serves more than 485,000 children and 25,000 teachers.
Soon after JRRTC’s completion, CFF became known in the community for being the convener of business, community, and educational leaders around innovation in education. In 2001, CFF brought a seminal group of teachers together, called the TIME Teachers – Teacher Innovations Maximizing Education. These teachers were paired with local business technology executives to study and build the requirements for effective technological change in our public schools. Their findings were published a couple of years later and used to inform the strategic plans of districts across the County.
In 2003, CFF established the Innovation in Education Awards, the marquee event in San Diego County for galvanizing the education and business communities around remarkable classroom programs, educators, and students. Headed into its 17th year, the Innovation in Education Awards continues to draw more than 500+ attendees including all 42 San Diego County Superintendents, top school district officials, and business leaders.
In 2006, CFF partnered with the USS Midway Museum to help them establish highly innovative educational programming. CFF assisted the Midway in developing their “Evacuation of Saigon” learning experience for students, utilizing the latest innovative educational practices. As a result of the partnership, the Midway is now at max capacity for the number of students it can host for these experiences. Today, CFF and the Midway are working together to bring this valuable resource to more students in the digital space, in addition to exposing students to career tracks performed on the ship like information security and logistics.
In 2012, CFF partnered with eight different school districts to help them more effectively implement technology. This “TeamRED Collaborative Partnership” consisted of direct coaching and a collaborative learning space for educators from these districts. As a result of this program, many of the partnered districts, like Vista Unified School District and Coronado Unified School District, are leaders in the County on such initiatives as STEM, one to one computing, open educational resources (OER) and personalized learning. Today, CFF offers periodical professional development opportunities to teachers from around the County on the effective use of technology in the classroom.
In December 2015, CFF selected a new CEO to lead its operations after its previous Executive Director retired after 18 years of service. Specializing in nonprofit fundraising and leadership, James Wright led the organization through a strategic planning process in the summer of 2016 which resulted in a new mission, vision, and strategic direction for the next five years. CFF was recognized in September 2016 for this process, with Wright receiving San Diego METRO Magazine’s “40 under 40” award for being one of San Diego’s brightest young leaders.
Today, CFF is working closely with the San Diego County Office of Education’s Innovation Division and local districts to accelerate a variety of innovative educational programs to prepare students for the jobs of the future.