These Education Startups Are All Business

Penn GSE's John Gamba discusses what it takes to be a finalist for the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition.

The pandemic forced the greatest beta test in education history. And while there were obvious devastating effects for students, there were also plenty of innovations that sprung from the experience. Many of those ideas and techniques are reflected in this year’s crop of finalists for the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) according to John Gamba, Penn GSE’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence. 

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 selections this week. 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. 

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

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Kevin Hogan

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