Catalyst @ Penn GSE

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.

Programs and Projects

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.


  • The Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) inspires game-changing education innovations worldwide. The first-ever business plan competition focused solely on education, the EBPC has identified over 40 winning ventures and awarded more than $1,000,000 in prizes.
  • Bootcamps and workshops offer opportunities for learning and networking in Education Entrepreneurship. Hosted throughout the year, these expert-led events support entrepreneurs, investors, educators, researchers, and business leaders in their efforts to introduce new solutions into the marketplace.
  • The Test Kitchen offers technical assistance, focus groups, and support services to help entrepreneurs, students, and educators build out solutions.

Problem Solving

  • Inquiries with Practitioners focus on a common problem of practice to give educators the opportunity to implement, evaluate, and adjust an intervention within a shorter time frame than traditional long-term research allows.
  • Catalyst Community Conversations develops, implements, and facilitates public deliberative conversations on important issues. 
  • The Center for School Study Councils brings together superintendents for idea sharing, networking, and crowdsourced problem solving to help navigate the many challenges facing school leadership.

Professional Development

  • The Virtual Online Teaching (VOLT) certificate program trains instructors in best practices to reach students of all ages through virtual teaching.
  • The Experiences in Applied Computational Thinking (EXACT) online certificate program helps educators learn computational thinking and computer programming while preparing them to teach these subjects.
  • The Penn Literacy Network (PLN) offers more than 80 onsite credit and noncredit programs for faculty and administrators in preK-12. 
  • The Penn GSE Coalition for Educational Equity works with school districts, providing technical assistance and training resources for administrators, teachers, counselors, parents, caregivers, and students to help close achievement gaps.
A team of education entrepreneurs collaborates on a business plan.

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


Announcements & Other News

Michael Golden Penn GSE.

Meet Our Director

“We are thrilled that Catalyst @ Penn GSE is bringing stakeholders from within and outside of Penn together to inspire, collaborate, and support learning for impact and sustainability. We are building on Penn GSE's legacy of innovation to create transformative learning opportunities for people in Philadelphia, across the country, and around the globe.”

Read More About Michael Golden

Catalyst's Betty Chandy helping students at computers

VOLT Partners with Academy in India to Train Teachers in Technology Use

In Mumbai, a cohort of 30 teachers from the Aditya Birla Education Academy are starting a version of Penn GSE’s Virtual Online Learning and Teaching Certificate Program specially tailored to help Indian teachers incorporate online and blended teaching methods in their practice.

Read More About VOLT's Partnership

The Evolution of Ed Entrepreneurship

In an EdSurge interview, Bobbi Kurshan, Senior Fellow and Innovation Advisor at Penn GSE, says that “we’re seeing a need for shorter programs that include more mentoring, more follow up consulting and that are rooted in research about what we know about learning."

Read More About the Evolution of Ed Entrepreneurship

The Catalyst Team

Michael Golden

Executive Director & Senior Fellow, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Bonnie Botel-Sheppard

Executive Director, Penn Literacy Network

Linda Breitstein

Project Manager, Catalyst Community Conversations

Betty Chandy

Program Director, Online Learning, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Mary Disangro

Administrative Coordinator, Center for School Study Councils 

Nicole Duprée

Program Manager, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Rachel Ebby-Rosin

Research Associate, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

John Gamba

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

Joseph V Ginotti

Director, Penn Literacy Network

Ben Greenwald

Administrative Coordinator, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Sarah Gudenkauf 

Research Assistant, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Zachary Hermann

Executive Director, Center for Professional Learning

Robert Lee Jarvis

Director, Equity Leadership Initiatives

Bobbi Kurshan

Innovation Advisor & Senior Fellow, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Serrano Legrand

Research Assistant, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Megan MacDonald 

Research Assistant, Catalyst @ Penn GSE

Dayna Muñiz

Administrative Coordinator, Equity Leadership Initiatives

Lara Paparo

Associate Director, Penn Literacy Network

Marlene Ryder

Administrative Assistant, Penn Literacy Network

Iris Sanchez

Business Manager, Penn Literacy Network

Harris Sokoloff

Executive Director, Center for School Study Councils, Catalyst Community Conversations


Catalyst @ Penn GSE

University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3440 Market Street, Suite 500
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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