Educate Girls, Change the World

I’ve heard the staggering statistics around the dismal state of girls education around the world many times, but they still shock me.

  • India: only 11% of girls get a college education
  • Cambodia: 4 out of 5 girls drop out of school when they turn 13
  • Nigeria: 60% of all out-of-school children are girls

When thinking about how to solve massive global problems like breaking the cycle of poverty, sex trafficking, stopping the spread of AIDS (…the list goes on), so much of this can be addressed by focusing on educating girls.

10×10, a global nonprofit, is embodying the collective impact approach to ‘provide rocket fuel’ to the already established movement to educate and empower girls around the world. As a long time supporter of Room to Read, I was so pleased to see them as one of the partners in their portfolio.

I’m so grateful that I got to see Holly and Tom share their message at the Legacy Venture event today and am inspired to think about how I can get involved. In bringing this back to the edtech world, I think there are some real opportunities to use existing and emerging technologies to further this collective mission and am optimistic about continued progress. Onward!

Blended Learning

What is Blended Learning?

Link: What is Blended Learning?

Check out these 3 short videos from Education Elements that provide an overview of blended learning.


Happy 2nd Birthday- The School Fund

“Education is like a mountain, the higher you climb, the more you can see.”

-Riaz Abeid : Teacher, Lugalo Secondary School : Iringa, Tanzania

Yesterday I attended the 2nd Birthday for The School Fund, a global youth development program started by a group of college students to help kids in Africa and other parts of the developing world attend school. (Amazingly, this is often possible with as little as $150/yr for a uniform, books and tuition.)

There were several aspects of this organization that are especially impressive:

– Volunteer Led: Matt Severson, the founder who began this work while he was an undergrad at Brown, works full time at Google and manages a team of volunteers split between the East and West Coast. (It’s also a family affair with Matt’s Dad working on the website and his Mom facilitating the trips.)

– Transparency: Allows donors to see their funds directly put to use by posting receipts in the fund history in the student’s profile page.

– Building Relationships: The journal feature enables donors to connect with the student(s) they sponsor and get regular updates beyond the information they share in their bio.

– Youth Engagement: High schools students have built clubs on campuses to spread the word about TSF & raise funds, and have traveled to visit some of the students to deepen their relationships.

Partnerships: Recognizing that other nonprofits could benefit from the tool they created, the team realized the best way to scale their impact is to partner with other organizations such as Goals Haiti, Children of Kibera, Education for All Children and many more…

The Team has gotten the attention of the Clinton Global Initiative as well as the Skees Family Foundation. They are well on their way to increasing access to education for the millions of kids who don’t go to school. I’m truly inspired by the work Matt and the team are doing and hope others will support their work!


“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

A special post in honor of Steve Jobs- inspiring entrepreneurs, designers, and life-long learners all over the world to follow their dreams and never settle. May he rest in peace.


Are you reading EdSurge?

If not, take a minute to sign up today. Their growing team, lead by seasoned technology journalist Betsy Corcoran, is doing a fantastic job collecting and disseminating the most relevant edtech news. Looking forward to seeing what is coming next from this team!

Some of the highlights from this week’s edition…

APIs FOR ALL: Thank you, TeachStreet, for starting to gather up edtech APIs! If you have one, make sure you send the details here.

ED ELEMENTS: $2.1 million, San Francisco: Education Elements, founded by Anthony Kim, took on investors including NewSchools Venture FundTugboat Ventures, venture capitalist Wally Hawley, and Imagine K12’s three cofounders. Kim is one of America’s top consultants in setting up blending learning programs at schools. Here’s the nail-biting truth about the most sophisticated learning programs: each one has its own, carefully designed “data dashboard.” That provokes air traffic-controller-like nightmares for teachers who try to use, say, three different programs to teach math, language arts and science. EdElements’ solution is what Kim has dubbed the “Hybrid Learning Management System,”—basically one dashboard to rule them all.

BUILDING CHARTERS: $25 million from the U.S. Dept. of Education to support 124 new (& 3 expanded) charter schools, serving 45,000 students over the next five years. Some of the programs will have to do more additional fund-raising than others. Recipients include KIPP ($9.5 million and planning for 18 schools), Breakthrough Charter Schools in Cleveland ($3.5 million, and building or expanding 11 schools) and San Jose’s Rocketship ($1.9 million and planning to build 56 schools).

…and so much more. The best way to get up-to-speed on all things EdTech.


Culture of Learning- The Real Disruption


Mitch Kapor gave a great keynote at the closing day of Startup Weekend EDU in Seattle this evening with a key theme being that we need to create a ‘culture of learning,’ and not just tools to really ‘fix’ the challenges in education. He shared some insights into his experience investing in edtech startups, and how at first he never invested in companies selling to districts/schools but has changed his stance on that a bit. He started off highlighting the work he and his wife, Freada, have been doing with The Summer Science Program, an intense six-week STEM-focused summer program for intellectually talented high school students from low income (SES) communities.

I especially appreciated his thoughts on social vs. tech entrepreneurs and how they can learn from each other’s perspective to maximize results. The sweet spot is where you build awesome (and useful) products with a sustainable business model.

His closing thoughts on startups today was most applicable to a Startup Weekend-type event —  Often entrepreneurs “confuse how far you can get in your first day of travel with how long it will take to get to the top of the mountain.” This captures the current environment where it’s so easy to get started, but it’s still very difficult to get past the early adopters, especially when hoping to sell to schools and districts, which have long and complicated sales timelines. Overall his message was positive and encouraged all edupreneurs to keep fighting the good fight, but just make sure you can make money!

Check out the feedback on Twitter- #swseaedu, @swseaedu


Just StartX It!

StartX, aiming to establish themselves as the “YCombinator of Stanford,” hosted a successful demo day today, leaving standing room only at Annenberg Auditorium. The teams, consisting mainly of Stanford undergrads, grad students and alumni, were chosen out of hundreds of applications and were full of praise for the accelerator program that introduced them to the lingo, mentorship and relationships necessary to launch their startups. The event started with a quick message from Board Member and long time supporter, George Zachary, from Charles River Ventures.

Half of the companies in their portfolio pitched today (see below for a list) and did a great job conveying their energy and enthusiasm. While the teams and product ideas were impressive, I was most excited by the program itself which is explicitly providing educational support to entrepreneurs, encouraging them to explore the unique opportunities available to them as part of the Stanford and Silicon Valley community. One of the speakers captured the theme of the day in their statement, “I know many of you could get a job with Google or Facebook tomorrow, but I highly encourage you to join one of the startups you see here, even as a side project.” I loved the positivity around the program and the overall message to explore entrepreneurship and take advantage of the resources right here in front of you (especially StartX.)

Applications for the next round are due this Wednesday, October 5th and they are aggressively recruiting for staff positions as well.

StartX companies that pitched today (in order of presentation):

  1. Morpheus: creating the first patient-specific airflow simulation software for medical applications.
  2. Kitchit: bridging private chefs and event planners to create personal, in-home fine dining experiences
  3. Modewalk: creating the most emotionally engaging shopping experience online for luxury goods
  4. 6Dot: developing a new portable, easy-to-use braille labeling device based on unique labeling technology
  5. Black Swan Solar: making solar energy cheaper than coal
  6. WifiSlam: enabling a technology for indoor positioning, location based tagging/check-ins in indoor spaces
  7. qWhisper: social search platform that will revolutionize the way people discover and find information from their social graph
  8. HungryTribe: meal planning and nutrition information targeted for corporations to save money on healthcare costs
  9. ClassOwl: online app for students/teachers to create personalized planners
  10. MotionMath: pioneering movement-based learning games for mobile devices
  11. Tactilize: creating the first publishing app for tablets
  12. diffbot: applies computer vision techniques to extract useful metadata from web docs.
  13. Loki Studios: utilizes GPS-enabled mobile devices to bring content-awareness to immersive social gaming
  14. FountainLoop: website and mobile application to help you find campus events and discover nearby friends.
  15. AiryLabs: creating the next generation of social learning games for kids
  16. Gameclosure: multiplatform. multiplayer. HTML5.
  17. Lark: enables the mobile phone to monitor, alert and improve sleep