Winners announced for 2021 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Since 2010, the competition has awarded more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes.

Media Contact: 

Kat Stein, Executive Director, Penn GSE Communications | 215.898.9642

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PHILADELPHIA —Readlee, a platform that uses artificial intelligence to improve academic outcomes by listening to students read, captured the grand prize at the 12th anniversary Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC).

HomeWorks Trenton, a community-based, after-school residential program that provides academic and social-emotional enrichment activities while empowering marginalized high school girls in their community, won the American Public University System Prize.

Nine finalists had the opportunity to pitch their ventures to a virtual judging panel as well as an audience of investors, researchers, and practitioners. For the first time in 2021, a venture’s ability to support underserved communities and potential to increase equitable outcomes in teaching, learning, and/or education was part of the judging criteria.

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 $1.5 million dollars in cash and prizes. Winners and finalists have gone on to earn more than $150 million in funding. 

The 2021 EBPC winners:

  • Readlee captured the Michael & Lori Milken Family Foundation’s Grand Prize of $40,000.
  • HomeWorks Trenton won the $25,000 American Public University System Prize.
  • Weird Enough Productions earned the $10,000 Sage Scholars Prize.
  • 9ijakids Educational Games collected the $5,000 Osage Venture Partners Audience Choice Prize.
  • All nine finalists received $1,000 in cash and $5,000 in Amazon Web Services Promotional credits.

“The 2021 winners—along with each of their fellow competitors—offer us a bright vision of the future of education,” says Catalyst @ Penn GSE Executive Director Michael Golden. “These entrepreneurs have created unique and targeted solutions to support everything from literacy and parental engagement, to career mentorship and guidance, and they share in their commitment to pushing forward educational equity in the United States and beyond.”

Previous EBPC winners include Thirdroom, Social Cipher, and MentorPro—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 Michael and Lori Milken Family Foundation, American Public University System, Sage Scholars, Osage Venture Partners, Amazon Web Services, and Padcaster.

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. The EBPC is part of Catalyst @ Penn GSE, a collection and facilitator of unique, innovative initiatives at Penn GSE aimed at addressing persistent and emerging problems in education.

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

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