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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Finalists of the 2023 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition await the winners announcement.

The Education Business Plan Competition: Semifinalists to be announced this spring

The Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition is considered the most prestigious and well-funded competition of its kind, attracting innovative ideas from around the world. Since 2010, the competition has awarded more than $2 million in cash and prizes.

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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.

Catapult flier

 Catapult – the Catalyst @ Penn GSE virtual accelerator

Catapult transforms education entrepreneurship. From idea to scale, we help companies shape, develop, and deploy innovative, proven solutions to meet critical educational challenges

Aerial view of people sitting at round tables in a wooden floor room

Global Connections in Education

With an emphasis on global connections, this event series offers attendees the opportunity to network and collaborate with peers by engaging in meaningful dialogues and experiences that can positively influence the future of education.

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.  

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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.

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Catalyst Team & Programs

The Catalyst Team

Bonnie Botel-Sheppard

Co-Founder and Senior Program Coordinator, Penn Literacy Network

Betty Chandy

Director for Online Learning, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Tim Foxx

Director, Center for School Study Councils

John Gamba

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

Michael Golden

Executive Director & Senior Fellow, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Adina Goldstein

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

Tinuke Oyefule

Associate Director, Innovative Programs

Lara Paparo

Executive Director, Penn Literacy Network

Samantha Powers

Coordinator, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Iris Sanchez

Business Manager, Penn Literacy Network

Tomea Sippio-Smith

Director, Coalition for Educational Equity

Harris Sokoloff

Executive Director,  Catalyst Community Conversations

Anthony Le Storti

Senior Leadership Associate, Leadership Dynamics

Katrina Struloeff

Director,  Growth and Impact

Contact Us

Catalyst @ Penn GSE
University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street, Suite 254
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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