In its fifth and final year of funding from NEF, the Interdisciplinary Learning Initiative (ILI) is a collaboration between NEF and Needham High School (NHS) intended to launch an interdisciplinary model of teaching and learning at NHS. The cornerstone of this collaboration was the development and implementation of the Greater Boston Project (GBP), a two-block interdisciplinary class that combines instruction in English, History, and Statistics. The collaboration has also seeded many smaller units of interdisciplinary learning (IL) programming, such as Kinetic Sculpture and Art in the Dark.

An important piece of the collaboration has been funding a part-time IL Specialist position at NHS dedicated to overseeing and supporting current IL projects, seeding new IL opportunities, and promoting IL at NHS, throughout the district, and in the community. On February 28, the School Committee voted to accept $36,000 in funding from NEF to support the IL Specialist position for a second year.

The NEF gift is made up in part by a grant of $500 awarded to the NEF by Staples Foundation, the private charitable arm of Staples, Inc., through a program called 2 Million & Change. With a recommendation from Staples associate Jodi Fletcher, NEF was awarded funding in support of its Interdisciplinary Learning Initiative (ILI).

“We were very pleased to be recognized by Ms. Fletcher,” said Jennifer Quinn, NEF Co-president, “and we are grateful for the support of all the Needham area businesses and families, including Staples Foundation, that helped to make this very large, multi-year collaboration with NHS possible. Funding the innovative IL Specialist position will ensure that the impact of the ILI remains broad and lasting.”