Finalists Announced for 2023 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition

Thursday, June 15, 2023
A hand extends forward holding a smartphone with the Skizaa app on the screen in front of a classroom full of elementary school children in Uganda's Mayuge district.

This year’s finalists use artificial intelligence, popular television, real-time data, and more to promote literacy, social-emotional learning, and equitable access to education. They will present their ideas at EDTECH WEEK 2023 on October 4th in New York City.

Media Contact: 

Jackie Jircitano, Catalyst @ Penn GSE Communications
814-440-2299 |

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Catalyst @ Penn GSE—a global center for education innovation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE)—and the Michael and Lori Milken Family Foundation announced the finalists for the 14th annual Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) today.

The finalists’ ventures are focused on some of the biggest challenges in education, including college access and persistence, social-emotional learning, literacy, adaptive learning, and more. They include College Guidance Network, EdVisorly, Skizaa Education, Story Shares, Taleemabad, ThinkHumanTV, and Unlocked Labs. The ventures will compete for cash and prizes at the live pitch competition held October 4 at the Times Center in New York City as part of EDTECH WEEK 2023.

“It is a privilege to shine a spotlight on the outstanding work this year’s finalists are doing around the globe and with traditionally marginalized communities—from rural students in Sub-Saharan Africa to incarcerated people in the United States,” said Catalyst @ Penn GSE Executive Director Michael Golden. “These entrepreneurs share OUR passion for breaking down barriers to high-quality education for all learners.”

Considered the most prestigious and well-funded competition of its kind, the EBPC attracts innovative education ventures from around the world. To date, the EBPC has awarded over $1.8 million dollars in cash and prizes. Winners and finalists have gone on to secure more than $180 million in funding.

The 2023 EBPC finalists were selected through a democratized judging process that includes practitioners, investors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and more. The finals will take place Wednesday, October 4, and are open to EDTECH WEEK 2023 participants with free live streaming also available (registration required).

“The talent, foresight, and determination of this group of entrepreneurs gives me enormous confidence in the future of learning and educational equity worldwide,” said Penn GSE Entrepreneur-in-Residence John Gamba. “They are leading the way on college access, data-informed decision making, academic engagement, and social-emotional learning for students at all levels.”

The following ventures are the 2023 EBPC finalists:

  • College Guidance Network is a unique content platform with live programming plus on-demand resources designed to support school counselors, helping students and families navigate high school to post-secondary.

  • EdVisorly, Inc. is building a nationwide community college to university transfer platform, empowering aspiring community college students to connect with universities to boost enrollment success.

  • Skizaa Education helps education leaders make real-time data-driven decisions by collecting and analyzing data from last-mile schools, saving more than 90 days.

  • Story Shares is a mission-driven publisher focused on building a relevant, culturally inclusive, reflective, engaging, and inspirational global library filled with choices that transform striving readers into avid ones.

  • Taleemabad is an all-day learning ecosystem that improves student learning outcomes, upskills teachers through digital training, increases admissions for low-cost private schools, and standardizes classroom experience through structured pedagogy.

  • ThinkHumanTV is a social and emotional learning platform that leverages streaming media on sites such as Netflix and Disney+ to teach young people the science of emotions.

  • Unlocked Labs empowers and employs justice-impacted individuals to design and build technology that promotes human flourishing and enables decarceration.

The EBPC is made possible through the generous support of the Michael and Lori Milken Family Foundation, Osage Venture Partners, Turbo SBIR, EdSales Elevation Experience, Amazon Web Services, and Conscious Venture Lab.

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. In their 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.

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, unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit

Find more on or follow the conversation on Twitter: @CatalystPennGSE and #MilkenPennGSE.

Image at top: 2023 Milken-Penn GSE finalist Skizaa tests their data-collection app in a rural classroom within Uganda's Mayuge district. (Photo courtesy of Skizaa)

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