KCI MERIT 2021 logo

MERIT Program

The application deadline for Summer 2021 is open! 40 applicants will be accepted.

Early application deadline with professional endorsement recommendation due Sunday, February 28, 2021. General application deadline with professional endorsement recommendation due Friday, April 30, 2021.

For more information about any of the KCI programs, please contact programs@krauseinnovationcenter.org.

What is MERIT?

The MERIT (Making Education Relevant through Innovative Teaching) program has been KCI's premier professional learning program. MERIT is a research-based, educator development program designed to help teachers bolster their curriculum with new teaching methodologies and technology-enhanced learning activities to motivate, challenge and inspire the diverse learners and leaders of the future.

MERIT is a year-long program that starts each spring, includes a two-week intensive summer institute, and continues with follow-up classes in the fall and winter quarters.

MERIT is for any teacher or educational leader who wants to bring what you do to a new level, working with other dynamic educators to focus on technology’s possibilities with creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.

What's different this year?

MERIT has always been the pinnacle of KCI's professional learning programs. This year, we are taking a different approach to MERIT. Instead of it being the pinnacle, it is an introduction to what is possible at the organization.

We know that pre-service teachers and new in-service teachers require the high quality professional learning opportunities that other more experienced teachers have access to. That's why MERIT will place a heavy focus on the needs of pre-service and new teachers. We welcome veteran teachers to participate as well, but we want to give new and soon-to-be educators the skills and supports to find success in the classroom and increase retention.

Additionally, instead of a stipend, MERIT participants will be eligible to receive a California Certificate of Achievement as an Education Technology Specialist, and participants will earn 12 Foothill College quarter units.

Research Centered

The MERIT Program seeks to show through qualitative and quantitative measures that new teaching approaches and engaging technology in the hands of a well-trained teacher can improve student learning. Participants have the opportunity to learn to use and contribute to a variety of resources for collaboration, and are required to design projects not simply to provide dynamic learning experiences for their students, but also create open educational resources that will be of value to other teachers and students near and far.

Who is it for?  What are the time requirements?

MERIT (Making Education Relevant through Innovative Teaching) is open to educators from around the United States. There are also a few spots for international teachers who are fluent in English. Only California teachers (who must have been a resident for at least 12 months) are eligible for units upon completion of the program

MERIT is a 10-month commitment, starting with our Program Orientation on June 5, 2021 and finishing in late March, 2022.

All MERIT participants must attend the 2021 Virtual Summer Institute, which will run from Monday, July 12, 2021, through Friday, July 23, 2021. The program runs from 9am - 4pm every weekday.

There are 4 follow-up Saturday meetings between October - March, 2022.

  • October 2, 2021
  • November 6,2021
  • February 5, 2022
  • March 5, 2022

What will you need to complete?

  • KCI Edtech Adventure Credits are earned by completing separate tasks from KCI classes (e.g., conference attendance, contest judging, presenting at a conference, etc). Be prepared to participate in this choice-based program.
  • Participants will create a digital portfolio with a showcase and reflections of your projects created for/during MERIT 21.

What is the application process?

  • Before you get started with this online application, we highly recommend you download the PDF version to review the questions and draft your responses first.
  • You must also get a supervising administrator to complete a recommendation form for you. The Administrator Support Form can be found here.
  • Your application and your principal's recommendation are due by:
    • General Application window closes - March 28
    • Early Acceptance window closes - Feb 28

This has been the most empowering development program of my professional career - on so many levels! I am ready, and I will, transform learning in and beyond my classroom to change lives for the better.


I am amazed that I feel as connected to the people in this room after just 9 days. What you are doing is amazing. I hope to convince more of the teachers I work with to apply!


I really appreciated having time to collaborate with the cohort and the instructors to apply what we learned throughout the two weeks. Everyone was open and supportive to helping, and the culture of the program was very friendly. We definitely helped each other to problem solve and push ourselves to beyond our comfort zones.


This has been the best professional development experience. I feel like I have a ton of ideas brewing and I am looking forward to tapping into the resources that I gathered from these two weeks.


I am very pleased with how the week has gone and wish to tell you how much I appreciate the effort that all the instructors put into their lessons. They are all rock stars in my mind. They have high energy, a "can do" attitude, and lots of positive energy.


MERIT was a super FABULOUS experience. Learned so much in an inspiring, joyful, and hands-on way. I'm going to recommend that MERIT instructors come for PD at my school to my principal.


Cate Tolnai

Cate Tolnai

MERIT 2021 Program Director

Cate Tolnai supports educators and leaders as Director of Marketing & Strategy at the Krause Center for Innovation. She has been in education since 2002, and brings her experience in classrooms and as a site, district, and county administrator to each of her projects. In 2019, she co-authored the ISTE publication highlighting the impact of game-based learning, “Power Up Your Classroom: Reimagine Learning Through Gameplay.”
Cate is committed to designing professional learning opportunities that empower educators and engage them with dynamic, creative activities and real-world strategies. As a Google Certified Innovator and Trainer as well as an Adobe Education Leader, she commits to supporting the integration of technology and teaching across grade levels and content areas. She speaks nationally on digital badges, gamification, and the impact of instructional play for both k-12 students and teachers.
Kas Pereira

Kas Pereira

MERIT 2021 Assistant Program Director

Kas is the current Teacher in Residence at the KCI. She is in charge of curriculum development, course management, and instruction. She is also the Director of the KCI’s Makerspace and Makerspace programs. Kas has long been a KCI affiliate, being a 2012 MERIT Fellow, the miniMERIT Program Director for several years, and a guest instructor in many programs. Most recently, she has been an adjunct faculty member for Foothill and a Lead Maker in the KCI’s Makerspace before stepping into her current role.

Kas comes to the KCI from a background of sixteen years teaching high school, the last twelve in the East Side Union High School District in San Jose. As a teacher of Film, Media, and English, she has run the Yearbook along with a daily broadcast television show for several years. Kas has also served as the WASC Coordinator, the Professional Development Coordinator, and a Department Chair at her school site. Most recently, she was one of the co-founders and the Director of the Quicksilver Innovation Program (QuIP), a small learning community for freshmen and sophomores that focuses on cross-curricular and project-based learning. Kas has a B.A. in Literature from UC Santa Cruz, an M.A. in Educational Best Practices and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from San Jose State University, as well as an administrative credential, and a single subject teaching credential in English with a supplementary authorization in Graphic Arts.

Kas is a MERIT alumnus from the Class of 2012, and has spent her summers working with the KCI as the miniMERIT Program Director for several years. She is passionate about learning through play and empowering students to find their voices. She loves working with educators because they are the most creative, passionate, and fun group of people on the planet.


MERIT 2010 teachers collaborating on a laptop
MERIT 2018 Cohort