Catalyst @ Penn GSE is an endeavor to design innovative practices and to create and scale actionable solutions to advance opportunity for all learners.

Catalyst builds on Penn GSE's history of pioneering innovation and entrepreneurship in education, combining ideas from education, technology, and business to address the pressing problems in education. Leveraging expertise from both inside and outside the academy, Catalyst fosters collaboration, curiosity, and agency in every learner, from young student to senior leader. Catalyst spreads effective practices, crowd-sources ideas, operationalizes research, generates thought leadership, and brings together communities to shape the future of education across preK-12, higher education, and executive learning.


Meet our
Executive Director

Michael Golden




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Programs and Projects


Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition
More about this ProjectThe Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) is designed to catalyze game-changing innovations in both the not-for-profit and for-profit education market. The EBPC is the most prestigious and well-funded education business plan competition in the country, earning its reputation by attracting innovative ideas from around the world and spotting winning education innovations early on in their growth. The Competition offers both would-be and established entrepreneurs a forum to test their new ideas, and rewards the winners with a host of benefits including cash prizes and access to a vibrant ecosystem of entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, and investors. 

Penn Center for Educational Leadership
More about this ProjectThe Penn Center for Educational Leadership delivers a coordinated and customized set of leadership and instructional development programs, services, and activities. We facilitate collaborative administrator and district team learning experiences at Penn and throughout the region that are grounded in emerging research in effective educational leadership, teaching, student learning, and organizational change. We apply the resources of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn GSE to collaborate with school districts, schools, and other organizations to enhance their leadership capacity. 

Virtual Online Teaching ProgramMore about this Program
Penn GSE’s certificate in virtual online teaching (VOLT) will develop instructors grounded in educational theory who are expert in their content areas and also adept at harnessing technology to design and implement curricula. Instructors will be prepared to teach in online and blended environments. VOLT is intended as a complement to traditional teacher-education programs and is appropriate for both pre- and in-service educators teaching across the P-20 spectrum. This program will provide rich, hands-on experiences with educational technology in order to integrate this new knowledge with expertise developed in a traditional teacher education program or through classroom experience. Apply Now.

Experiences in Applied Computational Thinking Certificate ProgramMore about this Program
The Experiences in Applied Computational Thinking (EXACT) certificate program provides educators with an understanding of computational thinking through experiential learning using current theory and practice in the field of computer science. Designed by Penn GSE and the GRASP lab, the EXACT certificate program immerses K-12 educators in the developing world of computational thinking and helps them create authentic educational experiences for their students. EXACT is a 30-week, fully online program. This multidisciplinary program is taught online through six modules, each lasting five weeks, and delivered over 2 semesters.

Bootcamps, Workshops, and Entrepreneurship Initiatives

Building on the education entrepreneurial community of the Education Design Studio, Inc., Catalyst is expanding and growing our community through initiatives to support entrepreneurs committed to transforming education. We bring together key stakeholders such as potential funders, industry leaders, corporate resources, potential partners, researchers, and start-up companies. We are pleased to offer our Selling into the U.S. Education Market Bootcamp on February 26, 2018. For more information, contact us at

The Catalyst Team

Michael Golden

Executive Director/Senior Fellow 

Joan Romm

Program Manager 

Rachel Ebby-Rosin

Research Associate

Chenelle Boatswain

Research Assistant

Serrano Legrand

Research Assistant

Barbara "Bobbi" Kurshan

Senior Fellow and Innovation Advisor

Brad Beshara

Managing Director

Betty Chandy

Program Director, Online Learning

Ben Greenwald

Administrative Coordinator

Rita Ferrandino

Entrepreneurship & Incubation

Sarah Gudenkauf

Research Assistant




University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104