Mission: iZone Silicon Valley is creating a partnership with schools in San Mateo County to accelerate learning through the identification and use of appropriate, effective tools and methods that address the individualized needs of each student. An education innovation zone (iZone) brings together educators, edtech companies, business and community groups to collectively improve the learning environment for each student.

Approach: iZone created and ambitious set of goals from the outset of their inception. Our goals were extensive and our FCF team was part of the development of these goals. The entire team worked together to create an innovation zone in San Mateo county from scratch, so the team’s expectations were extensive. The iZone team identified the following needs:

  • Development of the vision, mission and values of the iZone

  • Development of measurable goals for the iZone

  • Message and marketing support

  • Board development (grow current Board to include other key stakeholder representatives)

  • Leadership/vision for future direction

iZone aimed to help Silicon Valley schools meet opportunities presented by California’s shift to “Common Core” learning standards, in partnership with the county of San Mateo. This project will continue to identify and address obstacles to adopting “blended learning” solutions that combine online learning with class-based learning.In 2014, the iZone team aims to help Silicon Valley schools meet opportunities presented by California’s shift to “Common Core” learning standards, through identifying and address obstacles to adopting “blended learning” solutions. This year, Members hope to mobilize infrastructure and connect educators to spread innovation.

Impact: As a result of this launch within Full Circle Fund, this incubated initiative has resulted in securing a $400k grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation that significantly increased the revenue for this project since its inception.

Additionally, the collaborative initiative helped set course for the development of a plan to upgrade and fund county-wide digital infrastructure by working with the Education Superhighway to conduct speed test and network snapshots in all San Mateo County districts. This resulted in a $9m investment in Education Superhighway by Mark Zuckerberg’s Startup:Education fund, and includes participation from the Gates Foundation, led by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.

The group also started the development of a Center for Learning Analytics service for the county housed at San Mateo County of Education (SMCOE), and established a deeper connection with schools in the SMCOE district.Additionally, iZone generated strong momentum in stakeholder engagement and participation in design work, opened up lines of communication across organizations and communities (including non-profits, Ed Tech and charter schools), to increase awareness and support of the initiative’s growth and impact. The group aligned its efforts with other collective impact initiatives in the county, including Big Lift, SVCF-CCSS Common Core Initiative, and other county work including the Local Control Accountability Planning process.


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