Lisa Castaneda – foundry10

Venture Company:

foundry10 is a force of disruption in the educational technology space because it has always eschewed the traditional in favour of fresh innovation. Their original value proposition was to utilize research, collaboration, and philanthropy in the realm of gaming and education in order provide more opportunities and value for youth today. In the pullout below you can peruse their root principles. foundry10 uses research in order to examine learning processes and outcomes to advance practices for education and development. They collaborate by sharing their findings with educators, organizations, researchers, and industry professionals via a myriad of methods. They primarily explore learning through running and developing collaborative programs. Importantly, foundry10 operates through philanthropy whereby they do not charge fees for their programs and research, and they focus on not just giving, but co-designing with their various communities.

foundry10’s Root Principles:

* We believe in thinking flexibly, iterating on ideas, and gathering feedback from teachers and students as their voices form the foundation of our work.

* We believe that hiring a staff with diverse life and educational experiences is of vital importance if we are going to tackle real issues with regard to learning.

* We believe that every employee should have regular contact with students in order to ground us in our work and keep us focused on what matters: kids’ learning.

* We believe learning research should create real value for students and teachers.

* Finally, we believe in removing as many barriers as possible to create valuable experiences for children and the adults who work with them.

Some of their Programs:

Meet the Co-founder and CEO:

Lisa Castaneda is the CEO and co-founder of foundry10, a philanthropic learning technology company that at it’s heart, seeks to expand the way people think about learning.

Lisa started out as a mathematics teacher in grades K-8, during which time she spent time as a curriculum coordinator, focused on aligning standards, assessment, and creativity in math. Lisa was especially interested in finding ways to produce useful educational outcomes via video games. As can be gathered, she was not just content to simply teach the content, she had a thirst for reaching students in new and novel ways – continually honing her ability to be a successful entrepreneur.

By 2013 Lisa had taught for 10 years and had just finished her Master’s degree in Education. Her new determination was to do work on something that would positively impact more than just one school. A true disruptor, Lisa was interested in approaching learning in methods that were not tried before.

Gabe Newell (the co-founder and President of Valve) had a child who went to the school Lisa taught at and after finding that they shared many common interests in gaming as well as novel educational advancement, they agreed to cofound a company that would focus on this field.

You can check out what Lisa says she currently does in her role at foundry10 by hovering on the pullout below!

Lisa’s Current Job Description:

* Developing research initiatives to investigate non-traditional learning and expanded ideas of what learning can look like both inside and outside of school environments.

* Collaborating with people in a variety of fields and specialty areas to develop innovative ideas about learning as well as gather data on the success of those ventures.

* Examining the ways in which findings from various fields can be synthesized together in order to improve educational outcomes.

* Designing programs and conducting outreach initiatives to encourage and expand our collective understanding of learning.

The Team:

the leadership team at foundrey10 looks to be quite diverse, purposely. Additionally, the team culture has a somewhat flattened hierarchy where educators, youth, artists, engineers, researchers, and more can all lend their unique voices to a variety of projects. I have to believe that this is more than just words: Gabe Newell (co-founder) runs his hugely successful game company, Valve, in much the same way (people can work on whatever project interests them). foundry10 employs a plethora of staff with very diverse fields of expertise, covering all school subjects, research positions, program developers, designers, community specialists, and more. Additionally, foundry10 employs an ever evolving list of real world instructors in most, if not all, school subjects. There are 8 people on the institutional review board (including Lisa), who are a diverse group that audits the research done to ensure the ethical treatment of participants. Finally a group of 4 make up the Board of Advisors, who help develop and grow the organization to serve more students and more communities. Overall foundry10 looks to have an extremely well-rounded and qualified group of leaders, advisors, and employees.

My Takeaway:

I was drawn to this venture due to Gabe Newell’s initial involvement but as I learned more about foundry10 Lisa’s story became much more interesting to me. Lisa is an inspiration, as I sometimes feel as though I have been in education too long to start a venture or to take new risks and so her decade in the classroom is a confident booster. Her continual pursuit of making learning ever more accessible is commendable. What I appreciate most about Lisa and this venture, foundry10, is that it truly looks to disrupt – it’s mission statement is to explore new ways of learning.

Closing Content – Lisa speaks about VR in learning (2016):

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4 responses to “Lisa Castaneda – foundry10”

  1. Jessica Daicos

    First – thank you for posting about a female entrepreneur! In my forum discussion last week with Erica, I mentioned SheEO’s funding model for women-led ventures and quoted from their website: Women receive 2.2% of venture capital globally and represent 51% of the population. This made me very conscious of the representation of female entrepreneurs and I made it a goal of mine this week to only post about women. Not because their ventures are any better or more worthy than men’s, but because I think it’s important for women to be able to see themselves in these roles. As a woman, the stories of how other women succeeded is particularly relevant to me.

    For Foundry10, I particularly like that one of the root principles is that each employee must have regular contact with students. I’ll admit – I’m still a little confused what they do. It sounds almost like a private version of a university research lab. However, even if I’m correct in imagining that (I’m probably not), having regular contact with students MASSIVELY sets it apart. I remember going from my Masters in Teaching to placement and being all, “well this isn’t what the research says is best practice.” Quickly, I realised that the research was great, but none of the researchers had been in schools in a very long time and so the implementation of the research was quite difficult under the realities and constraints of K-12 education. This, on its own, is a fantastic place to start. I also really liked the podcast about VR. They discussed many of the hesitations and concerns with the technology, and I’m glad to hear an intelligent conversation about the risks and possibilities of this emerging technology for education.

    Thanks, Johannes! And great work with the formatting. I’m trying to play with the blocks to make my posts more visually interesting, and I like the drop down sections and use of colour and headings. It was a fantastic way of layering and presenting information.

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    1. johannes dirk wielenga

      Hey Jessica, thanks for the post! Coming across Lisa’s story was somewhat of an accident as I had originally tried to do this assignment on Gabe Newell, but Lisa’s story was much more relevant and interesting to me when I found out more about her and her mission!

      I agree with the sentiment you have about not quite understanding what foundry10 is really all about; as they say in their own “about” page, it is very hard to describe their model to others. I think you have a pretty good grasp on it though, and I agree wholeheartedly about the powerful mandate they have created for themselves – this social enterprise very much seems to have students at the forefront of everything they do.

      I am glad you appreciate my formatting, lol it turned out to be a bit more effort than I had hoped. A word of advice if you want to use the drop-down sections, perhaps don’t put them into your page until the very end because as soon as I added them to my page everything started to bog down, badly. For instance, if I wrote 1 sentence, it would take 1-3 minutes to see the words appear on the page. It was not a good time, lol.

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  2. adrian wheeler

    Lisa Castaneda is an excellent role-model, not only for entrepreneurs generally, but our class specifically. She comes from a background many of us can relate to and endeavored to solve a problem many of us have no doubt encountered. It is inspiring to see her success and the fact that she didn’t have to sacrifice her morals when entering into the business world.

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    1. johannes dirk wielenga

      Hey Adrian, I agree, she is a great role model for teacher entrepreneurs! And yea, one of the most interesting pieces of her story is how she did not sacrifice her morals and she has started a venture that should be able to cause a lot of social good in the world!

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