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PBLWorks’ 2023 Annual Report Highlights Impact of PBL on Teachers & Students

Report lays out bold new vision for expanding reach in providing High Quality Project Based Learning

The Buck Institute for Education (dba PBLWorks), a national provider of professional development for high quality Project Based Learning (PBL), has released its 2023 Year-End Review, highlighting the work the team completed this past year, as well as milestones in the past decade that have inspired the company’s bold new vision for 2024 and beyond.

“2023 was a momentous year as we completed strategic planning and set a bold new direction that keeps pace with dynamic changes in K-12 education and the world,” said PBLWorks’ CEO Bob Lenz. “We have an important and ambitious vision for ALL students – especially Black and Brown students – to experience Gold Standard Project Based Learning. In 2024 and beyond we will continue our work toward that vision by providing world-class professional development, revising and devising new services to meet the needs of teachers and leaders in the field, developing powerful PBL units for teachers to facilitate, and creating new digital tools/app(s) to support teachers and leaders.”

2023 Year-End Review

PBLWorks’ vision is for all students, especially Black and Brown students, to engage in high quality Project Based Learning to deepen their learning and achieve success in college, career, and life. In 2023, the company worked to expand its reach to teachers and districts that support Black and Brown students. In 2023, 43,152 educators from more than 257 schools, districts, and educational agencies across the globe engaged in PBLWorks’ online and in-person professional learning. PBLWorks’ also provides District Partnerships, multi-year partnerships that build the capacity of district leaders, school leaders, and teachers for Gold Standard PBL through a comprehensive set of online and/or in-person workshops. 75% of districts engaged in PBLWorks’ District Partner Services serve 50% of more Black and Brown students across 16 districts in 11 states.  Additionally, 72% of the teachers who participated in PBLWorks’ district services and who served 50% or more Black and Brown students, implemented at least one project in 2023.

2023 also marked a record turnout for PBLWorks’ annual PBL World conference, a one-of-a-kind, four-day gathering of K-12 teachers, instructional coaches, and school and district leaders focused on advancing their work with Project Based Learning. More than 1,500 educators from across the globe attended the sold-out event. Of those attending, 87% reported their overall event experience as “very good” or “excellent.”

The company also accelerated the development of its PBL curriculum in 2023. With generous support from the Kentucky Department of Education, the Bezos Family Foundation, the One8 Foundation, the Overdeck Family Foundation, and XQ Institute, PBLWorks was able to launch and continue to expand the scope of this work in 2023. The team also expanded its leadership team in 2023 to support its ongoing growth.

“2023 was such a significant year for PBLWorks as we engaged more than 40,000 educators from across the globe in online and in-person professional learning,” said Lenz. “To get where we are today, we have continuously grown and improved as a company with an increase of 27 full-time staff since 2014. This includes our latest hire of COO Julia Chih, who will help lead the operations team with her knowledge and experience to scale products and services in order for us to provide more educators with PBL solutions.”

A Bold New Direction

PBLWorks is the market leader for in-person PBL professional learning, which was confirmed by comprehensive market research in 2023. Yet, the markets for PBL and professional learning have changed significantly with a flat-lined professional learning market, rapid growth in online professional services, and curriculum far outpacing professional learning. Teachers and leaders want short PBL curriculum units, self-paced professional learning experiences, and subscription-based and lower cost options.

To keep pace with this changing landscape, PBLWorks’ strategic plan for the next four years expands its focus to include continued growth and redesign of in-person and online PBL professional learning services to support teachers in adapting and implementing PBL units. This bold new direction will meet the evolving needs of educators through expanded professional service offerings which include:

  • Accelerated development of PBL units in all content areas and grade levels that teachers can adapt for their students and unique contexts.
  • Revised professional learning to meet the evolving needs of teachers and leaders today and tomorrow.
  • New digital tools/apps that support educators anywhere, anytime as they learn and implement PBL.

By 2028, PBLWorks envisions significantly expanded K-12 market share, enabling it to further  increase its impact on advancing racial equity, reaching more than 230,000 educators annually, especially those serving 50% or more Black and Brown students.  It plans to do this through refined and new products and services that offer educators easy access to Gold Standard PBL anywhere, anytime.

PBLWorks’ annual report is available at https://bit.ly/4avphtF.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

Current issue of Equity & Access:


Equity & Access - Issue 28

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