Providing answers to general inquiries

Personalized Pathways Challenge

I’ve heard that iZone schools use a lot of technology – is this challenge about technology?

Not directly. This challenge is about re-thinking time, resources and personalized pathways for students.

Who can apply to the Challenge?

All New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) schools with grades 6 through 8 are eligible and invited to apply.

How does my school apply to the Personalized Pathways Challenge?

If your school is interested in taking on this challenge:

  • Grab a camera or whatever is handy—cell phones work fine
  • Make a 120-second video that tells us why you’re up for the Challenge
  • Upload it here by June 27th at 5pm.

Round I is a rapid design process, and includes two milestone Challenge Collaborative events (dates TBD), where attendance is required. At the end of Round I, design teams will be invited to apply for additional funding, advocacy, per session and support to prototype their ideas during Round II.

How will Round I schools be selected?

Round I schools will be selected based on the content of their video submissions. Schools should submit a 2 minute personalized video that:

  • Exhibits a willingness to engage in a design process meant to surface and enable new ways to think about personalized student schedules and programming models.
  • Demonstrates the desire to gain a deeper understanding of academic policies, and a willingness to partner with the Office of Academic Policy & Systems and the iZone during the design process.
  • Articulates an interest in having a small group of educators and students – “design team” – design and test personalized learning models, including but not limited to the innovative use of instructional time and resources.

Who should be on my school’s design team?

Your design team should be comprised of 2-5 people – such as teachers, administrators, and students. For this challenge, schools may also wish to consider who is most involved in thinking through school programming. Design teams should be highly collaborative and open to sharing their work and process.

What’s my school’s motivation to apply?

  • Learn about new models of scheduling and school-wide programming for students, as well as user-centered design
  • Collaborate with other middle schools dedicated to a similar process
  • Participate in design sessions, dynamic idea exchange events, and expert office hours
  • Prototype your idea with support from the iZone and the Office of Academic Policy & Systems
  • Share your ideas for personalizing learning.


Who will my school work with during the Challenge?

This challenge is designed to foster collaboration and learning among forward-thinking educators, design experts, iZone, the Office of Academic Policy & Systems, and more.  Design teams will have opportunities to collaborate with other Challenge participants throughout Rounds I and II.

What are “Office Hours?”

During Round I, office hours are optional windows of time for design teams to meet one on one or in small groups with experts for additional support in either the design process or in the development of your prototype.  Dates & times will be announced after Round I is underway.

What is the time commitment for Round I?

  • Challenge Collaborative from 2pm – 6pm (July 24th).
  • Challenge Collaborative from TBD – TBD (August 11th & 12th).
  • Time to research, plan, and ideate with your school community in between Collaboratives (on your own).  Most schools use this time to interview and conduct research with community members, hold design team meetings, and plan next steps.
  • Check out our gallery from past collaboratives and Ideation Exchanges for a window into the Challenge experience.

What is a challenge “collaborative?”

During the challenge, design teams, along with our partners and outside experts, come together at events called, “Collaboratives” to learn about the design process and exchange  innovative ideas and practices.

What happens during the summer?

Schools will want to continue to refine their prototypes (during July & August) in preparation for applying to Round II and/or fall implementation of your design.

What happens after Round I?

Design teams will be eligible for Round II. This is not a mandatory next step but design teams who want to continue this work and are interested in receiving additional support for prototyping ideas in the fall should apply for Round II.

Is there any funding for Round I participation?

Yes. Design teams will receive per session for their time during Round I. Schools in Round II receive additional per session, as well as flex funds that are placed in into school budgets. Flex funds range from $5K – $15K.

How many schools will be selected?

We are committed to finding the right schools for this work.  We will review video applications on a rolling basis and select schools based on their applications, not a set number.

I still have questions.  Where can I go for more information?

Please email us at innovation@schools.nyc.gov.

Do I need to participate in the first round now?  Or can I just apply to Round II in the fall?

Schools must complete the Round I design process to be eligible to apply for Round II.