Finalists and $140,000 in Prize Funding Announced For 2016 Education Business Plan Competition from University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education & the Milken Family Foundation

Monday, April 11, 2016

Companies range from a platform for teaching students about the brain to a retention program for teachers in urban school.

Media Contact: 

Jeff Frantz, Penn GSE Associate Director of Communications / (215) 898-3269          

*Note for TV and radio: The University of Pennsylvania has an on-campus ISDN line and ready access to a satellite uplink facility with live-shot capability.

Philadelphia — The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) and the Milken Family Foundation announced the finalists for the seventh annual Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) today.  Companies range from a platform for teaching students about the brain to a retention program for teachers in urban school.

Considered the most prestigious and well-funded education business plan competition, the EBPC has earned a name for itself by attracting innovative ideas from around the world and spotting winning education innovations early on in their growth. As the largest competition of its kind, the EBPC features multiple cash prizes totaling $140,000, and awards prizes in two categories – one aimed at Idea-stage companies that are just getting started and Ventures, which already have revenues, grants, customers, or investments. 

The 2016 EBPC Idea and Venture Path Finalists, selected through a crowd-sourced judging which includes teachers, investors, entrepreneurs, and researchers, include:


  • Bibliotech / London: A tool for undergraduate assessments and exam preparation.
  • Caseworx / Long Beach, Cal.: A platform for interactive, case-based and scenario learning.
  • Communication APPtitute LLC / Towson, Md.: A new way to teach vocabulary.
  • NeuroTinker, LLC / Shrewsbury, Mass: A platform for teaching students about the brain.
  • OgStar ReadingTM, LLC / Owings Mills, Md: A multisensory game-based approach for reading instruction and tutoring.
  • PinkThink /Chicago: STEM education aimed at girls.
  • Pivot Interactive, SBC / Afton, Minn.:  Tools that allow students to learn science by doing science.
  • TalkingPoints / San Francisco: Transforming parent, student, and teacher communication.
  • Tassl / Philadelphia: Helping colleges strengthen their alumni networks.
  • Teachley Connect / New York: Game-based math assessments for K-5 students.


  • Classroom Connect / Monrovia, Cal.: A way to expose students to a wide array of career possibilities.
  • ClassTag / New York: An app for organizing classroom volunteers and activities.
  • Coursalytics Inc. / Vienna, Va.: A marketplace for executive education.
  • KidsCode / Charlottesville, Va.: Teaching object-oriented programing with physical objects.
  • Million Word Challenge / Cambridge, Mass.: An app to organically develop reading skills.
  • MindRight / Palo Alto, Cal.: A mobile app to aid child victims of trauma.
  • / Owings Mills, Md.: A web app for improving critical reading skills.
  • The Teacher Place / Philadelphia:  A volunteer-run retail-style “free store” for Philadelphia teachers to obtain needed materials.
  • Toolbox for Teachers / Philadelphia: A series of trainings to increase teacher retention in urban schools.
  • Torus Youth / New York: A platform to close the access gap by connecting students with after-school and summer programs.
  • URead / Rydal, Pa.: A mobile app for adult reading development. 

Previous finalists include, ApprenNet, and Degreed – all of which have gone on to grow their ventures, attract investors, and have a positive impact on education. The EBPC is made possible through the generous support of the Milken Family Foundation, ACT, American Public University System, ChanceLight Behavioral Health and Education, McGraw-Hill Education, and Microsoft Surface.

The competition is an established leader in the field of education innovation and key destination for education entrepreneurs. Competition finalists will travel to Philadelphia’s Penn campus on May 10-11 to pitch their ventures to a crowd of investors, researchers, and practitioners. In addition to competition prizes, finalists can be invited to join The Education Design Studio Inc. (EDSi), a hybrid incubator and seed fund built specifically for education ventures that was launched in collaboration with Penn GSE in 2013.

The Milken family – several of whom are Penn graduates – embody the Franklin spirit and through successful educational entrepreneurship – from pre-K services through college education for working adults – as well as investments in educational enterprises, have demonstrated a commitment to the leaders of tomorrow. In their four decades of philanthropic activities, the Milken family has made innovation in education education – as exemplified by the Milken Educator Awards and National Institute for Excellence in Teaching – a cornerstone of their work. Visit the Milken Family Foundation for more information.

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 and 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: @GSE_innovates and #MilkenPennGSE.


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