Over the past month, TikTok has parceled out its $50 million Creative Learning Fund–formed during the coronavirus pandemic–into grants for 800 U.S.-based public figures, media and educational organizations, and professional experts in a variety of fields.
Recipients, including Bill Nye, Lilly Singh, and Tyra Banks, all have two things in common, the company says: they’ve been affected by COVID-19, and they’ve agreed to use the grants to make “creative, informational, and useful learning material” on TikTok.
“Our community has been drawn to videos that highlight unique science experiments, useful life hacks, creative math tricks, easy DIY projects, and motivational messages and advice,” Bryan Thoensen, TikTok’s head of content partnerships in the U.S., wrote in an official blog post. “With our Creative Learning Fund, we’re continuing to nurture creators and partnerships that support this type of content on the platform.”
It appears many of the grant recipients will make content on their own, but a handful of experts and organizations will work directly with TikTok to produce videos for a new initiative called #LearnOnTikTok. Science guy Nye, YouTuber and late-night host Singh, and model/TV mogul Banks are all part of the initiative, as are culinarian José Andrés and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
“I love to tell stories that have the potential to inspire audiences and make people feel seen and connected, especially in this climate,” Singh, who has 15 million subscribers on YouTube and 16.7K on her as-yet-unused TikTok account, said in a statement. “TikTok is such an original place on the internet and I’m excited to create content that makes a positive impact, encourages people to learn something new, and just as importantly, I know we could all use some comic relief right now too.”
According to Thoensen, TikTok’s educational initiative also involves the development of a forthcoming learning portal that’ll give creators “insights, tools, and best practices on how to create quality content on TikTok.”
The company did not offer a timeline for when #LearnOnTikTok content will debut, but did highlight independent content made by other grant recipients, such as this video about giant sea bass from Aquarium of the Pacific, this look at life on the range from farmer Page Pardo, tips on dental school from hygienist-in-training Tyler Brown, and poetry performances from Lebanese author/poet Najwa Zebian.
TikTok’s Creative Learning Fund is one part of its overall $250 million COVID-19 relief package, through which it’s also pledged to give $150 million toward medical staffing and hardship relief for healthcare workers and $40 million in critical health and economic relief for especially affected communities. In addition to the package, TikTok is offering $125 million in ad credits—$100 million to small businesses, and $25 million to nonprofits and other organizations working to deliver public health information.
TikTok is not the only platform to zero in on instructional content during the pandemic. In March, YouTube launched a hub full of videos from education-focused creators like Hank and John Green’s CrashCourse, PhysicsGirl, and Sesame Street, as well as lesson plans and daily schedules to help keep kids learning while classrooms are closed.