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

June 20, 2012

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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.  

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. More information can be found at:  The $120,000 in total funding was awarded through the following six prizes (Citelighter received two prizes): 

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 (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, Radhika Khandelwal, Sarah Novick, Tracy Money (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.he Startl Prize for Open Educational Resources ($25,000) -- Saad Alam and Lee Jokl (New York, NY): Citelighter

The NEST Summit

A worldwide leader in education practice, policy, and philosophy, Penn GSE is consistently at the forefront of education innovation.  As part of the school’s expanding entrepreneurial effort, each summer Penn GSE invites the best, brightest, and most influential professional educators, education entrepreneurs, business leaders, and venture capitalists to the campus of the University of Pennsylvania for the annual NEST Summit.  The Summit is a unique way to generate new ideas, debate policy, forge new collaborations, discover investment opportunities, and conduct social networking and research.

The Milken Family Foundation

The Milken Family Foundation was established by Lowell and Michael Milken in 1982 with the mission to discover and advance inventive and effective ways to help people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives. The Foundation advances this mission principally through the various programs it initiates and carries out in the areas of education and medical research.

About Penn GSE

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research ed schools. A small percentage of education programs in the U.S. offer doctoral degrees, with only a tiny fraction located at flagship research universities. No other education school enjoys a University environment as supportive of practical knowledge-building as the University of Pennsylvania.  Penn GSE has long been known for excellence in qualitative research, language and literacy studies, practitioner inquiry and teacher education. Over the past 15 years, Penn GSE has also developed remarkable strengths in quantitative research, policy studies, evaluation, higher education, and psychology and human development. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit


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