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May 11, 2016

$140,000 in Prizes Awarded to Early-Stage Education Entrepreneurs

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Penn’s Graduate School of Education & The Milken Family Foundation Announce 2016 Education Business Plan Competition Winners

Media Contact: 

Jeff Frantz, Penn GSE Assoc. Director of Communications
frantzj@upenn.edu | (215)-898-3269

The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) and the Milken Family Foundation announced the winners of the sixth annual Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) today. A new way for colleges to engage with their alumni, apps for helping students and adults read and communicate, and a marketplace for afterschool programs.

As the largest competition of its kind, the EBPC features multiple cash prizes totaling $140,000, and awards prizes in two categories – one aimed at Idea-stage companies that are just getting started and Ventures, which already have revenues, grants, customers, or investments. Finalists may also be invited to join the Fall 2016 cohort of The Education Design Studio Inc. (EDSi), a hybrid incubator and seed fund built specifically for education ventures that was launched in collaboration with Penn GSE in 2013. Today’s winners include:

Venture Path

Milken Family Foundation Grand Prize: $40,000

Tassl LLC, of Philadelphia, an alumni engagement technology solution that helps universities and their alumni groups engage with graduates in more meaningful ways outside of donations, in order create a stronger culture and more meaningful relationships within their alumni network. 

ACT Prize: $20,000

Pivot Interactive, SBC, of Afton, Minn., which develops interactive resources for science learning, including both Direct Measurement Videos and Pivot Player.

American Public University System Prize: $20,000

Tassl LLC

ChanceLight Behavioral Health and Education Prize: $10,000 each

  • Communication APPtitute, of Towson, Md., an educational technology company filling a void in the literacy market by creating two unique, visual methods for teaching vocabulary and semantic skills, not only for students who struggle with learning, but for all students who need to understand nuanced word meanings.
  • OgStar Reading LLC, of Owings Mills, Md., an that app provides a self-correcting, multisensory reading game for dyslexic students, English Language learners, and those with limited language exposure using the well-respected Orton-Gillingham approach. 

McGraw-Hill Education Prize: $20,000

Caseworx, of Long Beach, Cal., which takes case study learning off the page, into a video-based, interactive collaboration space for all types of learners.

Voter's Choice Prize: $1,000

TalkingPoints, of San Francisco, a multi-lingual texting platform that educators use to communicate with families via text messages with automatic translation.

Idea Path

Milken Family Foundation Grand Prize: $10,000

Torus Teens, of New York, a marketplace that connects teens with afterschool and summer programs so they can explore interests and develop skills outside of formal schooling. Torus Teens was also awarded a Microsoft Surface.

Four additional Idea Prizes: $2,000 each

URead, of Rydal, Pa., a mobile app designed to help adults reading at the 4th grade level equivalent and above improve their reading skills.

Toolbox for Teachers, of Philadelphia, a series of workshops and resources designed to promote educator resiliency and trauma sensitivity in urban and low-income schools.

Mindright, of Palo Alto, Cal., a mobile app and data platform service that helps youth overcome the impacts of trauma and empowers schools to meet students’ needs arising from trauma.

Kids Code, of Charlottesville, Va., — created by two University of Virginia undergraduates — this interactive board game teaches children to think like a computer programmer and practice programming skills, even without prior coding experience.

Voter's Choice Prize: $1,000

Kids Code

The EBPC has earned a name for itself by attracting innovative ideas from around the world and spotting winning education innovations early on. Previous finalists include Raise.meApprenNet, and Degreed – all of which have gone on to grow their ventures, attract investors, and have a positive impact on education. The EBPC is made possible through the generous support of the Milken Family Foundation, ACT, American Public University System, ChanceLight Behavioral Health and Education, iTutorGroup, McGraw-Hill Education, and Microsoft Surface. Finalists are selected through crowd-sourced judging from teachers, investors, entrepreneurs, and researchers.

The Milken family – several of whom are Penn graduates – embody the Franklin spirit. Through successful educational entrepreneurship from pre-K services through college education for working adults, as well as investments in educational enterprises, they have demonstrated a commitment to the leaders of tomorrow. Over four decades of philanthropic activities, the Milken family has made innovation in education – as exemplified by the Milken Educator Awards and National Institute for Excellence in Teaching – a cornerstone of their work. Visit the Milken Family Foundationhttp://www.mff.orgto learn more.

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge-building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products, services, and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit www.gse.upenn.edu/ or follow us on Twitter @PennGSE. To follow and participate in the 2016 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition, use hashtag #MilkenPennGSE. For more on the work of Innovation@Penn GSE, please visit http://www.gse.upenn.edu/innovation or follow on Twitter @GSE_innovates