In-depth with the founders of a ‘Kickstarter for education’.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
A “fairy godmother for education,” is how Jaime Wood describes IncitED, the company she co-founded. “It’s the magic touch that makes big dreams or even little dreams possible.” IncitED is more literally a robust tool for online education fundraising, collaboration, and replication of ideas that work. Kevilina Burbank is IncitEd’s co-founder along with Jaime Wood. Together, they have been teaching for over twenty years. They are passionate about giving educators a tool to create meaningful change in their communities and have been working voraciously to bring IncitEd to life. “IncitED is the equalizer that will bring diversity to our education system so that all learners are able to benefit, not just the privileged,” says Kevilina. “It is the grassroots solution to our education woes, allowing all stakeholders to participate in building a better way.”
Victor: Very interesting concept. Tell me a little about yourselves.
Kevilina: I’m a mama to an amazing teenage girl, an urban goat herder, a chess player, quilter, and an organic gardener; in other words, I’m always making, feeding, or building something.
Victor: Now that’s some color commentary. What were you doing before IncitED?
Kevilina: Well, to be honest, I am still doing what I was doing before IncitED. Being a mama is part of my inspiration behind what we’re doing. I was a teacher, and I still am. My students write reality television shows that benefit society. My goats keep things light and milky. Maybe when things become calmer I’ll compose an IncitED quilt whose squares represent my favorite campaigns!
Jaime: Before IncitED I taught students how to use language to build idea bridges. I still do. Before that, I was a poet. I still am. Before that I was a humanist working for justice. Two years ago, that role manifest through a website called Dream School Commons where any concerned citizen could share his or her dream for education. Kevilina and I have harnessed that energy and fed it into IncitED.
Victor: What was the inspiration for IncitED?
Kevilina: I was tired of being frustrated with every aspect of education; publishing companies and corporations cannot take over education; so many people are striking out on their own to change education; crowdfunding has the potential to kick posterior people want to feel empowered by having some choice in where they spend their money in education and where they send their kids to learn. (Kevilina, pictured)
Jaime: For years I’ve had ideas about what education should be, what it could be with the right support and momentum. And you know what? We’ve known for decades what we should be doing to nurture the minds of learners. But the money isn’t there, so Kevilina said to me one day, “Let’s make a Kickstarter for education.” And I said, YES! I thought of all my friends in education who have big, smart, amazing ways to improve the system, all the people who will make a difference with the grassroots support we can give them through IncitED. And the idea was born.
We’ve been working to build it night and day ever since.
Victor: How did you choose the name?
Kevilina: We read the dictionary; it didn’t seem to contain anything promising. Apparently we missed a word.
Jaime: We brainstormed ideas for days, no joke. Then I handed the list to my husband, Dylan, and he returned it with his own list. All his ideas were better than our dictionary/thesaurus attempts. IncitED stood out as the perfect choice: edgy and passionate. That’s us.
Victor: What makes IncitED special?
Jaime: IncitED is special because we know that education happens everywhere and we’re committed to celebrating real-world learning, whether it’s taking place inside the walls of a classroom, on the side of a mountain, in a community garden, or in a makeshift school on the other side of the world. We know that we’re all teachers and learners. IncitED makes it possible for any powerful education program to flourish. One of the most exciting aspects of what we’re building is our online community space where people can connect, share resources, solve problems together, and help each other replicate models that work. The implications of these tools are huge. With IncitED, educators will be less isolated. They’ll have everything they need in one space to bring their ideas to life.
Kevilina: We’re special because we’re not focused on making money; we’re focused on uniting people who without question are game for changing the way we view education and going for it. We have the vision, guts and planning skills. We want you to plant some seeds! Pick from our garden! Hang out and eat here share your recipes!
Victor: How has the response to IncitED been so far?
Kevilina: The response has been the music to our lyrics. We’ve been moving with the momentum that the universe is throwing at us. People involved in traditional education, nontraditional education; politicians and business owners; parents and kids we’re all in this together, and people realize that what we’re doing is one solution to a problem that just can’t keep on the path that it’s on.
Jaime: The response has been tremendous! You know why? People need this. They’re hungry for change, and so many educators are longing to take the reigns and build the initiatives they know are necessary in a system that’s stopped listening to them. We believe in the wisdom of the crowd. A few determined people and their supporters can do brilliant things.
Victor: Who uses IncitED?
Jaime: Anyone who is working to help others improve themselves in some way through learning is an educator and is encouraged to use IncitED. So far, we’ve hosted education activists, public school teachers, nonprofit organizations, and former school teachers working to build new models of education.
Kevilina: We also want folks who wouldn’t normally consider themselves to be educators to get on board. If you have skills or knowledge or even better, you annoy your friends by talking with them about the field you love we invite you to join in and share that with people who will no doubt want to learn about what you’re up to. If you’re obsessed with preparing your neighborhood for disaster, and you want to have a weeklong summer camp where folks get to learn how to do that, then we want to help you make that happen.
Victor: What’s on the horizon for IncitED?
Kevilina: We’re going to make this hive produce some honey.
Jaime: Over the next few months we’ll be building, building, building. Our online community space will be taking shape. We’ll be establishing relationships with NGOs so we can make an impact in high needs communities around the world. We’re also working to create partnerships with businesses that can provide additional funding to campaigns that match their community interests. So yeah, we’ll be fleshing out the vision we’ve had from the beginning. Keep an eye out. Good things are happening.
Victor Rivero is the editor in chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: [email protected]