Competition Finalists Focus on Education Entrepreneurship

May 20, 2010 - Innovative solutions to recurring problems in education -- an elusive goal of K-adult educators and a priority of the Obama administration -- will take center stage at Penn GSE in early June.

On May 17, Penn GSE announced six finalists for the inaugural Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition who will be presenting their ideas for improving education on June 3. The finalists are:

  • Ceres (Jevan Soo, team leader, Cambridge, MA): a software human resources application designed to focus on the specific recruiting challenges facing the public education sector;
  • Digital Proctor (Shaun Sims, team leader, Austin, TX): software to secure and monitor online classrooms by authenticating the identity of registered students;
  • Drop the Chalk (Jen Schnidman, team leader, New Orleans): software tools for K-12 schools in need of customized student data management systems;
  • JeepNeed (Shaina Tantuico, team leader, South Hadley, MA): a mobile academic resource/support system providing school transport and computer access for high achieving, high-poverty youth in Manila, Philippines.
  • Quick Quizzer (Emily Durham, team leader, Philadelphia): a downloadable math application for iPods, iPhones, and computers that requires students to solve math problems before permitting access to the device;
  • Youth Entrepreneurship & Leadership Program (Barry Striegel, team leader, Grand Rapids, ND): a statewide network of entrepreneurship immersion programs/summer day camps for students and teachers in tribal and rural communities.

Their ideas for innovation in teaching and learning, access to education, and data systems and infrastructure will be presented to a panel of judges including Frank Bonsal III, from New Markets Venture Partners; Wallace E. Boston, Jr., from the American Public University System; Mark Claypool, from Educational Services of America; Charles Fadel, from Cisco Systems; Michael Golden, from Microsoft; Jonathan Harber, from SchoolNet, Inc.; and Alan Todd, from Corporate University Xchange.

Teams will be given 15 minutes to present their idea, and winners will be announced immediately following the presentations. The winner and runner-up will receive $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Finalists in the competition were selected using a rubric developed by Penn’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy; 43 independent judges evaluated 125 entries, including submissions from India, Taiwan, and Korea.

Penn’s Graduate School of Education and the Milken Family Foundation launched the competition last year.

After the competition has concluded, Penn GSE will convene its second annual Entrepreneurship in Education Summit, a meeting of learning industry leaders, education entrepreneurs and funders who will be developing prescriptions for better government and K-12 systemic support of education entrepreneurs.

Media contact:  Jill DiSanto-Haines at 215-898-4820 or