The Asynchronous Scholars’ Fund currently is in our planning and growth phase. During this phase, we are conducting advocacy for asynchronous scholars using social media, conferences, our blog, and other publications.
When we have raised sufficient funding, the Fund will offer support for the following purposes. Support will be limited to legal residents of California.
- Aid for asynchronous scholars to enable them to pursue deep explorations in the topic area of their interest. Example: An asynchronous scholar with exceptional facility in engineering may receive funding for membership in TechShop and for an accompanying tutor, to facilitate deeper hands-on learning.
- Aid to parents of asynchronous scholars to support their children’s in-depth studies. Example: A family may receive aid to take their particle physics-loving asynchronous scholar on a trip to tour Stanford’s SLAC National Laboratory in Palo Alto, CA.
- Aid to families to pay for assessments for IQ, achievement, “twice exceptionalities” (including learning disabilities), and educational advocacy. Example: A family seeking to better understand how to meet their asynchronous scholar’s learning needs might choose to have a full-scale IQ and achievement assessment completed, and may hire a specialist in educational advocacy for asynchronous scholars.
Potential beneficiaries will apply using an objective screening process to be developed following best practices of leading support groups and service providers for asynchronous scholars. This screening process will ensure that only applicants who are truly asynchronous are considered for support. Key elements of the process include consideration of the following:
- developmental milestones;
- ongoing behaviors typical of asynchronous scholars, including persistent questioning, challenging of authority, learning insatiability, and other behaviors;
- a pattern of child-instigated deep learning exploration;
- demonstrable achievement in academic or non-academic settings, with consideration for the impact that learning disabilities and other “twice exceptionalities” can have on achievement;
- typical dysfunctions and/or patterns that serve as flags of an asynchronous scholar with intense need for intellectual stimulation not being met; and
- anecdotal and referential information, including from extra-familial sources, documenting asynchrony and other indicators of high potential.
Need will also be determined based on the financial situation of the applicant, as screened using an online portal like the Financial Aid for School Tuition (FAST) at https://www.ismfast.com/ or similar.
As part of the application process, applicants will identify the specific activity or materials for which they are requesting support, and will describe how the requested activity or materials will benefit the asynchronous scholar. The Fund will screen requests to ensure that the activity or materials are not available from other sources, and are in line with the needs of the asynchronous scholar, before making a final decision on the request.
Fund staff will make aid recommendations to the board of directors, and the board will make all final approval decisions.
Once selected, recipients will be responsible for creating a final report detailing how the aid was used and what impact it had on the asynchronous scholar.
The Fund will view the format of the report flexibly: Parents may submit a report on behalf of younger asynchronous scholars; and the Fund will accept and even encourage creative formats (photographs, video, audio, artwork, phone interviews, essays), as long as basic information regarding the effectiveness of the Fund’s support is communicated. With aid recipients’ permission, and protection of the identity of the asynchronous scholars themselves, the Fund will share success stories on its website. Similarly, as part of an alumni program, the Fund will encourage recipients to communicate subsequent updates regarding the impact the Fund’s support had on their studies as time passes.
Monitoring and evaluation
Hand-in-hand with the development of the aid program, the Fund will develop an effective monitoring and evaluation effort to ensure that we capture lessons learned regarding the impact of our program on beneficiaries’ educational experiences. Data gathered will be both quantitative and qualitative, including the anecdotal. Data will be tracked both on a short-term, beneficiary basis and, as voluntary participation permits, on a longitudinal basis.
The Fund expects that the longitudinal tracking effort will yield particularly useful results. Participants will be required to share periodic updates regarding the continuation of their studies of the subject for which the Fund provided support, as well as the benefits they gained from receiving that support. Although results will be available over the course of years, owing to the nature of longitudinal data gathering, they should provide substantial enrichment to the notoriously two-dimensional nature of quantitative data gathered from typical tests and assessments, particularly given the challenges of accurately testing asynchronous scholars at the furthest reaches of the spectrum.
Lessons learned will be incorporated into annual strategic planning processes, including the adoption of best practices and the modification of the program as needed.