Agency by Design Oakland

Agency by Design is a research project exploring the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning. The project began as a collaboration between the Abundance Foundation and Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero.

The initial phase of research studied the practice of maker-centered learning in the K-12 context and included an action research component based in Oakland, CA. This group, initially called the Oakland Learning Community, began as a group of 20 teachers and administrators from six Oakland schools (Claremont Middle, Emerson Elementary, North Oakland Community Charter School, Oakland International High School, Oakland Technical High School, and Park Day School). As a learning community, the group developed a program structure to deepen teaching practice, reinvigorate through professional development and community connection, and serve as an essential action research component of Project Zero’s Agency by Design research.

The Oakland Learning Community was later named Agency by Design Oakland and most recently developed an ongoing Oakland-based fellowship that provides professional development, coaching, and funding opportunities to local educators who incorporate maker-centered learning in their practice. The fellowship has yielded unexpected and remarkable positive outcomes, including a nearly 100% teacher retention rate at participating school sites. 

Agency by Design Oakland continues its work as an independent organization based in Oakland, CA with a core fellowship program for educators. It was created through the generous support and strategic partnership of the Abundance Foundation. You can learn more about their work on their website at

Check out this video for an overview of their recent work:

Blog Posts

Agency by Design at Grass Valley Elementary

Grass Valley Elementary is a small elementary school in the Oakland Unified Public School District serving just under 300 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Two Grass Valley teachers, Paula Mitchell and Diana Culmer, recently participated in the Agency by Design research project, and were instrumental in a larger school-wide effort to bring maker-centered learning into the core school curriculum. Check out the video below, which was created with Agency by Design Oakland as part of a series ...