The Jacobs Education Impact Prize

Funded by the Jacobs Foundation, the Jacobs Education Impact Prize gives select GSE Education Entrepreneurship students practical and financial support to develop and launch their own social impact ventures in the education sector.

As an awardee, you can receive investment of up to $15,000 to build your social venture. You will also join the community of Jacobs Fellows, allowing you to share knowledge and experiences with a network of leaders from all over the world.

The application period is August 15 through September 15, 2023.


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Why you should apply

To develop, launch, and scale your impact venture, you’ll need funding and a network of supporters and advisors. As an awardee, you’ll receive both the financial support and access to the global community of Jacobs Fellows to help you power your startup.

The Jacobs Education Impact Prize gives you a one- to two-year runway—over the course of your studies—to accelerate your social enterprise.

Participant selection

The Jacobs Fellowship includes two competitive award cycles:

  • Phase 1: Fellows will be selected from the current student cohort enrolled in the Education Entrepreneurship master’s program and can receive $5,000 of seed funding to develop their start-up.
  • Phase 2: All Fellows will participate in a second award cycle following an immersive 6- to 8-month developmental program during Phase 1 and can receive up to an additional $10,000 in investment to launch or scale their start-up.


To be considered for the Fellowship, you must be a currently enrolled GSE Education Entrepreneurship student, then complete an application, including a preliminary venture case with a description of the problem, research base, solution/value proposition, and proposed measurements of impact. A personal statement addressing why you are a good fit for the fellowship and how you will maximize the initial investment of time, expertise, and capital in your venture will be required.

The application timeline:

  • The application period is August 15–September 15, 2023.
  • Finalists will be interviewed in late September.
  • Fellows will be announced in October.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the Jacobs Education Impact Prize structured?

The program is designed to create a cohort of Penn GSE Education Entrepreneurship students with a commitment to launching and refining a social enterprise.

Awardees are entrepreneurial students who are building a social impact start-up.

During Phase 1, five GSE Education Entrepreneurship students will be selected to receive up to $5,000 of seed funding for their social venture. In Phase 2, Fellows can qualify for additional investment of up to $10,000

All winners will join the global cohort of Jacobs Fellows. Winners will have an opportunity to meet other Jacobs Fellows and to participate in networking and career opportunities. Prize recipients will become a valuable addition to the Jacobs Network and contribute to the Foundation’s thematic priorities.

When can I apply?

The application opens August 15, 2023. Applications are accepted until September 15, 2023, at 11:59pm EST. Late submissions will not be considered.

What is the Jacobs Foundation?

The Jacobs Foundation invests in the future of young people so that they become socially responsible and productive members of society. Learn more at

Are there preferred focus areas?

The Foundation has a preference for ventures focusing on improving teaching and learning outcomes for youth ages 2 to 12.

How can I use the prize money?

Winners of the Jacobs Education Impact Prize may use prize money for any expense related to their social impact start-up. This may include business expenses and salary. Pertinent taxes apply.

Am I eligible?

All currently enrolled GSE Education Entrepreneurship students interested in launching or scaling a social impact venture are eligible. Ideal candidates are those with a commitment to continue to build and develop a social enterprise after graduating with the M.S.Ed. in Education Entrepreneurship.

For-profit, hybrid, and nonprofit ventures qualify.

How do I apply?

You can apply online on the GSE Education Entrepreneurship website. We will not consider late applications, nor will we review or recognize materials submitted in any format other than the formal application. You will be able to apply online when the application portal formally opens. For any questions, please contact Carl Moog at

How will my application be evaluated?

In reviewing your application, we evaluate the venture and the entrepreneur.

  • We will look at the social impact of your venture—how well you have identified the problem and the need, and how likely it is that your venture will be a successful intervention. In addition, we are looking for at least two proposed measurements or metrics related to the problem you are addressing.
  • We will evaluate your proposed business and revenue models—will your venture be sustainable?
  • We will also evaluate the entrepreneurs. We know that being an entrepreneur, and especially a social entrepreneur, requires a blend of passion, commitment, business savvy, persistence, and willingness to pivot and to learn, so we will be looking for those aspects in you.
  • Because receiving the award means that you will become a member of a larger cohort of Jacobs Fellows, we will be seeking awardees who are additive to that cohort.
  • We will look at how closely your social venture aligns with the thematic priorities of the Jacobs Foundation.

Note: this prize is awarded to an entrepreneur, not a team. Ventures that are created by teams are accepted, but the application must be submitted by one individual, and only that individual will receive the award and admission into the Jacobs Fellowship.

Who will review the applications?

A team of reviewers from the GSE Education Entrepreneurship program and the Jacobs Foundation will complete an initial review of applications.

Jacobs Fellows 2023-2024

Eliseo Valerio headshot

Eliseo Valerio

Eliseo’s focus is on the lack of access to formative theatre-based education that Emergent Bilinguals face in elementary schools.

His venture provides theatre-based educational programming for Emergent Bilinguals to help develop motivation for learning, foster creativity, improve social-emotional awareness, and complement the early phases of language acquisition and identity building.

Eliseo has a background in theatre education from Shakespeare Theatre Company, Ford's Theatre, Second Stage, The New Victory Theater, the Alley Theatre, and in Mexico as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. Eliseo earned his B.A. in Theater and Performance Studies with a minor in Classics from Stanford University. He is from Houston, Texas.

 Outside his professional interests, Eliseo enjoys reading, writing, experiencing culture, seeing a Shakespeare play, rewatching Downton Abbey, and traveling to new places.

Jade Peterson headshot

Jade Peterson

Jade is thrilled to launch her new venture, Jolt Education.  

One of the biggest challenges K-12 educators face is the lack of time and resources to create engaging, relevant, and fun lessons. As a middle school science teacher, Jade started each class with a TikTok of the day, such as a science news story or STEM career highlight. Not only did these clips engage her students but they helped them make connections outside of the classroom. 

Jolt Education is an internet add-on that enables teachers to integrate exciting and timely short-form educational video content into existing lessons to increase engagement and reduce time spent on planning and then share their work with a central community of teachers across the globe.

Jade is an experienced educator and entrepreneur who founded her first business, Funny Nuggets, The Comedy Clubhouse for Kids, while pursuing her undergraduate degrees in business and education at the University of Iowa. She is from Ankeny, Iowa. 

Jade enjoys outdoor adventures such as camping, hiking, distance running, and skiing.

Milan Butani headshot

Milan Butani

Milan is designing Weave to amplify teachers’ classroom abilities through observation, accurate evaluation, and deep understanding of the dynamics of student participation and engagement in group settings.

This new tool uses automatic voice recognition and data science techniques such as natural language processing to record group discussions and generate meaningful social insight that a teacher can act on. This insight can be configured based on the subject or topic of the discussion and highlight strengths and weaknesses according to the teacher's selection of learning goals or objectives.

Milan's early career includes supporting Edlyft (an edtech startup) in various roles from mentoring, recruitment, and management; business intelligence reporting at Modern Animal (a veterinary startup); and his most recent experience in a customer-facing sales role at Google Cloud.

 Milan earned his bachelor’s in data science from UC Berkeley. Milan is from Los Angeles, California.

Outside of his professional interests, Milan enjoys basketball, food, and video games.

Toby Johnson headshot

Toby Johnson

Toby is improving children’s literacy at the global level. His venture, Phunics – Fun Phonics, is a research-supported reading program that helps kids cross the literacy chasm from the ABCs to Grade 4 reading fluency.

Success to date: 25,000+ books read.

Toby’s whole career has been in education with a focus on Pre-K–Grade 6 reading courses. He holds a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Classical Studies from DePauw University. Toby is originally from McCall, Idaho.

In his free time Toby enjoys reading, travelling, hockey, surfing, camping, and strategy games.

Victoria Rummel headshot

Victoria Rummel

Victoria is dedicated to supporting teachers in creating a more peaceful and effective learning environment in their classrooms. Inspired by her journey and the nationwide challenge of addressing behavior issues in classrooms, Victoria is creating an educational technology platform aimed at empowering educators in their classroom management skills through practical insights in immersive videos by expert teachers.

Victoria has taught in both Title 1 and International elementary schools in Austin, Texas. She holds a bachelor’s degree in applied Learning and Development with a specialization in literacy from the University of Texas. Victoria is originally from San Antonio, Texas.

Beyond her commitment to education, Victoria enjoys activities such as hiking, painting, and exploring new places through travel.

Jacobs Fellows 2022-2023

Aqeela Allahyari headshot

Aqeela Allahyari

Aqeela Allahyari is creating environments that cultivate the intrinsic motivation to learn that all children naturally possess. She believes that curiosity should be at the core of the educational program. 

As a Jacobs Fellow, her goal is to reimagine education in her region (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) by moving from the current one-size-fits-all formula to a more localized and personalized approach to teaching children. To Allahyari, success looks like this: in 12 months, she will have a new educational model for instruction based on a student’s instructional level and not on their grade level; her program will be bilingual, based on play, require fewer school hours; and it will support student success on national standardized tests. ArabiQuest is a program that teaches Arabic to native and non-native speakers using the TPR approach, while raising the cultural awareness about the language. 

Allahyari has a Bachelor of Science degree in business and accounting, as well as certificates in education innovation and improvement. She likes to make soap, cook, read novels, watch movies and travel to new places. 

Sidra Alvi headshot

Sidra Alvi

Sidra Alvi, a former business analyst at Bloomberg LP, has embarked on a mission to enhance equity, access, and opportunities for children with special needs in inclusive educational and societal environments. 

Having transitioned from her role at Bloomberg LP to becoming a parent of a special needs child, she gained firsthand insight into the significance of providing accommodations for children with learning differences. 

Driven by her passion for assisting children like her son, Sidra is actively working on establishing Kids Stay Awesome, an education consulting team comprising experts who offer evidence-based interventions, tailored curricula, teacher training, and therapy services for pre-K–3 students. Her primary focus will involve forging partnerships with private elementary schools in the United States that currently lack formal academic programs or specialized services for children with special needs. 

Alvi earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration, specializing in finance, and minored in English at Stony Brook University. She is interested in early childhood education and enjoys photography and travel in her free time. 

Psacoya Guinn headshot

Psacoya Guinn

Psacoya Guinn is building innovative and accessible education and development pathways for students experiencing homelessness in New York City (NYC). In 2021, Guinn became an active player in finding a solution through Trinity Community School, a K5 tuition-free community boarding school that provides families with equitable access to education and cultivates social and emotional development. 

Her venture, called Trinity: Creativity. Community. Reflection, is a nonprofit that equips upper elementary and middle school students experiencing homelessness with tools to increase literacy and enhance social-emotional development through a trio of trauma-informed theatre programs. Through her work as a trauma-informed theatre-teaching artist in various shelters in New York City, Guinn witnessed many challenges that students in shelters face, such as lack of access to a consistent, well-rounded education, chronic absenteeism, and social and emotional trauma. 

Guinn has a background in theatre education with a bachelor’s degree from Troy University. When she’s not working on her venture or as the education associate at the Tony award-winning New York Theatre Workshop, she works out on her Peloton or is binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy. 

Neha Gupta headshot

Neha Gupta

Neha Gupta has been an educational entrepreneur for 15 years, serving students through tutoring, college admissions consulting, and skills training. She is extremely passionate about working with students on their durable skills for success in academics, work, and in life. 

Gupta is working on a new venture that focuses on durable skills because she has found that many students lack such skills and feels that the current educational system does not teach this curriculum. She focuses on building an edtech platform that helps to teach students durable skills as well as real-life training. Her app, called Crusher, helps students to crush their college admissions interview, internship interview, and job interview with the hope of helping millions of students to learn the durable skills needed in effective communication to win over interviewers. 

Gupta is a graduate of Rice University with a double major in economics and policy studies. She is interested in education, personal development, meditation, and adventure. 

Heidi Mitchell headshot

Heidi Mitchell

Heidi Mitchell has been an educator for nearly 20 years. Through her work, she has created collaborative programs that foster understanding among students worldwide. She is passionate about global citizenship and tackling the issue of making quality education accessible worldwide. 

Mitchell created Strides 4 Education, a Your Space/Your Pace Marathon™ where participants run, walk, or hike 26.2 miles over 8 weeks regardless of age, fitness level, or location. By registering for this event, participants not only prioritize their own physical health but also directly contribute to funding education projects in West Africa, making a tangible impact on the lives of children. This innovative concept combines personal wellness, community support, and education impact, creating a powerful and accessible platform for individuals to be agents of positive change. 

Mitchell has a bachelor’s degree in history from Brigham Young University and a Global Education Entrepreneurship Certificate from the University of Pennsylvania. When she is not mentoring students from across the U.S., Mitchell enjoys spending time with her husband and children, running, yoga, and watching episodes of Psych. 

Natalia Rodriguez headshot

Natalia Rodriguez

Natalia Rodriguez is creating education solutions to help young girls and women access critical knowledge about their bodies, sexuality, reproduction, and relationships. Rodriguez is passionate about women's health, empowerment, and social justice. As a Jacobs Fellow, she wants to challenge her assumptions and to discover and more deeply understand girls and women’s pain points around sexual health and wellness. 

As the founder of FAM Academy, Natalia teaches women in Colombia about fertility awareness methods and other health issues. FAM Academy is a platform dedicated to empowering women with the knowledge and tools to understand and manage their menstrual cycles and fertility. This platform offers age-appropriate micro-learning resources tailored to girls and women. 

Rodriguez holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a minor in design from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. She has worked with kids and teenagers on improving sexual and reproductive health for more than 10 years. In her free time, Rodriguez is passionate about outdoor and experiential education. 

Contact Us

For more information about the Jacobs Education Impact Prize, please reach out to Global Programs & Grants Coordinator, Ruviel Sibaja, at