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Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition

University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education and the Milken Family Foundation Select 2012 Education Business Plan Competition Winners

Share your idea. Change the world.

Philadelphia, PA, June 20, 2012 – The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) and the Milken Family Foundation have announced the winners of the 2012 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) – with five winners earning a total of $120,000 in prize funding.

From left: David Pottruck, Gregory Milken, 2012 first prize winner Toni Maraviglia, Penn GSE Dean Andy Porter. Photo by Darryl Moran.

Now in its third year, the EBPC is designed to stimulate cutting-edge ideas that serve the world’s educational needs, from Pre-K to adult learning. Of over 200 submissions, ten worldwide finalists were selected to gather in Philadelphia to compete in a live competition judged by a panel of industry leaders. Sponsored by the Networking Education Entrepreneurs for Social Transformation (NEST), the EBPC, and the NEST Summit that follows it, were developed to create a forum for education entrepreneurs, whether focused locally or globally, public or private, to catalyze innovation in education.

The EBPC grew substantially in 2012 with the launch of a series of new prizes, including The American Public University System Prize for Innovation in Online Education, The Educational Services of America Prize for Innovation in the fields of Special Education and At-Risk Students, The Erudient Education Prize for Innovation in Borderless Education and The Startl Prize for Open Educational Resources. The 5 winning plans, showcasing the best and most promising new ventures, range from an effort to leverage mobile technology to educate in Africa (and beyond) to a powerful text-to-audio application that is revolutionary for the visually impaired and illiterate around the world.

Launched in 2010 as a partnership between Penn GSE and the Milken Family Foundation, the EBPC culminates with a live competition, judged by a panel of industry experts; this year, it was held on the Penn campus June 19, 2012. The $120,000 in total funding was awarded through the following six prizes (Citelighter received two prizes):

  • The Milken Family Foundation:
    • First Prize ($25,000) -- Toni Maraviglia (Nairobi, Kenya/registered as U.S. corporation): M-Prep Inc. creates educational materials that can be delivered through ubiquitous mobile devices, and targets populations that have little access to education.
    • Second Prize ($15,000) -- Jason W. Young and Tracy T. Moore II (Oakland, CA): Mindblown Labs uses mobile gaming to teach high school and college students about personal finance and other 21st century skills
  • The American Public University System Prize for Innovation in Online Education ($25,000) -- Saad Alam and Lee Jokl (New York, NY): Citelighter is a research platform aimed at storing, organizing and sharing education and research for free.
  • The Educational Services of America Prize for Innovation in the fields of Special Education and At-Risk Students ($20,000) -- Megan Marcus, Katerina Manoff, Bianca Figueroa Santana (Cambridge, MA): FuelEd is aimed at strengthening teacher preparation by equipping teachers with essential social and emotional competencies.
  • The Erudient Education Prize for Innovation in Borderless Education ($10,000) -- Shay Eyal (Kiriat Bialik, Israel): EyalGPS provides a unique Text To Speech mobile application for the special needs population that reads any text on a mobile screen.
  • The Startl Prize for Open Educational Resources ($25,000) -- Saad Alam and Lee Jokl (New York, NY): Citelighter

Judges included Jeanne Allen of The Center for Education Reform; Dr. Wallace E. Boston president & CEO of the American Public University System, and a Penn GSE graduate; Mark Claypool of Educational Services of America; Gregory Milken of AltEgo and the Milken Family Foundation; Elizabeth Neale of School Leaders Network; Madan Padaki of Erudient and MeritTrac; Laurie Racine of Startl; Alan Todd of Corporate University eXchange; and Victor Vuchic of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The event was emceed by David S. Pottruck of Red Eagle Ventures, Inc.

Today, June 20, the NEST Summit has gathered industry leaders to provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to gauge the pulse of entrepreneurship in education, and to explore new ways of fostering a culture of continuous innovation in the field.