A center for global education innovation, Catalyst @ Penn GSE connects people and ideas to develop new ways to advance education in novel and meaningful directions.

Building on Penn GSE's legacy of education innovation and leadership, Catalyst operates at the nexus of education, business, and technology to help generate, test, adapt, and disseminate best practices and powerful new tools for educators at all levels.

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McGraw Prize winners Alberto Carvalho, Christine Cunningham, and Chris Lehmann with Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman

Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education celebrates innovation in education by recognizing outstanding individuals who have dedicated themselves to improving education and whose accomplishments are making a difference today.

Shayla Adams-Stafford, founder of AdaptiveX

The Education Business Plan Competition 

Entrepreneurs, innovators, and educators who believe their business can address persistent and emerging problems in education are invited to apply for the annual Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition.


What We Do

Catalyst’s programs cut across sectors to serve educators, entrepreneurs, researchers, policymakers, investors, business leaders, and others with a stake in education’s power to create opportunity for all learners.

Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition attendees

Connect Innovators

Catalyst connects education leaders across the industry with the shared goal of improving education through innovation. We facilitate public conversations, host working groups on pressing challenges, and honor the change makers who transform teaching and learning.

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Attendees at the Center for School Study Councils 75th Anniversary celebration

Develop Leaders

We develop educators to disrupt education from within through professional development and capacity building. Our certificate and other programs facilitate collaboration and problem-solving among district leaders, train practitioners in virtual teaching and computational thinking, and support equity in education to close achievement gaps.

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eClose Institute founders Dara Ruiz-Whalen and Alana O’Reilly

Support Entrepreneurs

We support entrepreneurs and education ventures who disrupt education from outside the system. Through the prestigious Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition, Entrepreneur-in-Residence office hours, and other programs we guide business development, support new solutions, and celebrate impactful ventures.  

Learn more:

Taliq Tillman and Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman discuss ideas for reimagining freshman orientation.

Explore the Future of Learning

We explore the future of learning both in the U.S. and around the world, focusing on augmented and virtual reality, innovation mindset, digital teaching and learning, and more.

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More Opportunities

John Gamba

Catalyst presents Entrepreneur-in-Residence Mentoring & Breakthrough Series

Catalyst @ Penn GSE is excited to offer aspiring education entrepreneurs expert mentorship and community connection through Entrepreneur-in-Residence opportunities. John Gamba, a serial entrepreneur and Penn GSE's first Entrepreneur-in-Residence, is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs on their journey from the spark of an idea to the launch of their venture and beyond. 


Work with John in one-on-one mentoring sessions to develop your vision, incorporate research-to-practice into your business model, convert knowledge to action, and ultimately make a tangible impact in the lives of students. Plus, don’t miss Catalyst’s monthly Entrepreneur Breakthroughs series that celebrates and connects founders to share their insights and learn from each other’s experiences. Both opportunities are free and open to all aspiring education entrepreneurs.

Two math teachers collaborate.

Inquiries with Practitioners

Catalyst @ Penn GSE convenes school and district teams to engage in a continuous improvement approach to research-practice partnerships. With Catalyst guidance and support, inquiry communities develop and test ideas to address complex challenges common across educational contexts. Through inter-district collaboration, practitioners build their capacity to utilize continuous improvement approaches in their ongoing work.

Learn more about Inquiries with Practitioners

Catalyst Team & Programs

The Catalyst Team

Michael Golden

Executive Director & Senior Fellow, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Bonnie Botel-Sheppard

Executive Director, Penn Literacy Network

Joyce Cadesca

Associate Director, Innovative Programs, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Betty Chandy

Director for Online Learning, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Yanil De La Rosa-Walcott

Research Assistant, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Mary Disangro

Administrative Coordinator, Center for School Study Councils 

Tim Foxx

Director, Center for School Study Councils

John Gamba

Director, Innovative Programs & Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Adina Goldstein

Research Assistant, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Zachary Herrmann

Executive Director, Center for Professional Learning

Robert Lee Jarvis

Director, Coalition for Educational Equity

Serrano Legrand

Research Assistant, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Megan MacDonald 

Research Assistant, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Nicole Masloff 

Educational Partnership Manager, Penn Literacy Network

Dayna Muñiz

Associate Director, Coalition for Educational Equity

Lara Paparo

Associate Director, Penn Literacy Network

Caroline Ross

Director of Innovation and Impact, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Iris Sanchez

Business Manager, Penn Literacy Network

Harris Sokoloff

Executive Director,  Catalyst Community Conversations

Contact Us

Catalyst @ Penn GSE
University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3440 Market Street, Suite 500
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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