Values + Origin Story
We are fierce advocates for modern approaches to education that improve learning outcomes and prepare Oregon students for success in a rapidly changing world.
We fight for equity in learning. All students should have the chance to rise.
We believe in teachers — they are the most creative and hardworking people around! We also believe in school leaders — who want to inspire and lead communities of life-long learning. Our tools and practices help them to create cultures of innovation in schools.
Small by design, we use a hybrid model of grant-making and program design and facilitation. Construct works at the nexus of: localschool communities, education policymakers, business leaders, higher education leaders, non-profit partners, and funders.
We draw from research-based best practices of business, design and education to drive forward our work building cultures of innovation in schools. We believe in the power of cross-sector collaboration to drive innovation. We also believe that schools should have the best tools from every sector available to them. We love introducing students, educators and school leaders to tools not commonly used in schools in order to cultivate their creative capacity.
Our mission is not possible without partners who recognize this critical opportunity to serve current and future generations.
In 2013, Gina Condon invested personal funds and partnered with her colleague, Kate Fitzgerald, an expert in grant funding and community-based organizations, to launch the Construct Foundation.
Construct’s name is inspired by the work of Gina’s father, Michael, who started Condon-Johnson & Associates, a specialty construction firm headquartered in Oakland, CA, with expertise in lateral earth support or “foundation” work. A child of immigrant grandparents in the Bronx, NY, Michael Condon struggled in the traditional school setting and did not go to college. He was able to grow his company to $80 million in revenue annually before his unexpected death at the age of 53 in 2002.
"My father was a passionate businessman with a disciplined and focused leadership style,” Gina says. “He possessed great self-awareness, which enabled him to build a powerful team and grow a very successful company.”
Gina observed this same self-directed entrepreneurial spirit during her years working in Silicon Valley before starting a family and moving to Portland in 2006. The entrepreneurial spirit is, according to many education and economic development leaders of today, an essential ingredient for all kids to embrace the challenges they will inherit and thrive in an emergent world.
ABOUT THE CONSTRUctivist model
Gina Condon grew up with a visceral understanding of how access to opportunities and education can transform lives. Her mother, a first-generation American, was the first in her family to go to college. Twelve years old at the time, Gina remembers well the day her mother graduated from college. Gina herself would eventually earn a Bachelor’s Degree in developmental psychology from the University of California, Irvine, and a Master’s from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
In 2010, Condon met Susan Dunn, PhD, a career educator, student of Jean Piaget’s theories of cognitive development, and founder of an independent school grounded in Constructivist theory. Meeting Dr. Dunn, Condon was re-inspired by the constructivist model—based in the belief that we understand the world by reflecting and building on our experiences—as it relates to the “learner” in the 21st century.
Dr. Dunn has spent 30 years as a teacher, professor, and, primarily, a public elementary school administrator. She shared her passion for child-led inquiry and project-based learning as a context in which children develop critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative relationships. In 2009, Dunn co-founded A Renaissance School of Arts and Sciences (a preK-8th grade independent school) with her colleague, Sally Wells, MEd.
When asked about privilege and access to this progressive model of teaching and learning, Dunn explained, “This is how children thrive as learners. Create meaningful opportunities for posing worthy questions and authentic problem-solving while scaffolding their growing abilities to follow their curiosity, and they will become engaged, lifelong learners and contributors prepared to take on the challenges of a complex world. All children are natural artists and scientists at birth. Education too often shifts the balance from a personal love of learning to an externally-driven set of disconnected hoops.”
Understanding the challenges and the possibilities facing families in need, as well as the relationship of an engaged and dynamic education to youth and community success, further crystallized what is now the mission of the Construct Foundation: to ensure all Oregon youth have the skills they need to succeed in the new economy.