NewSchools Venture Fund and Teach For America announce inaugural cohort of the EdTech Entrepreneurs Lab

February 11, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 11, 2010) – NewSchools Venture Fund and Teach For America announced today the 25 aspiring education entrepreneurs selected to participate in the first-ever EdTech Entrepreneurs Lab. The Lab is a joint program of Teach For America and the venture philanthropy firm NewSchools Venture Fund.

The EdTech Entrepreneurs Lab allows participants to explore, develop and incubate innovative, technology-driven ideas that target educational inequity. The program is launched in collaboration with the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, which will run a “boot camp” for participants to develop ideas using design thinking methodologies. Throughout this program, participants will gain access to industry leaders and key resources to help them launch innovative, technology-based solutions that contribute to closing the achievement gap.

The goal of the EdTech Lab is to address the education achievement gap between students from low and high-income communities. Currently, just half of students in low-income communities graduate high school by age 18, and only one in ten graduates from college. “Technology is an indisputable game-changer in the field of education—a field where the game needs changing,” says Wayee Chu, one of the program’s coordinators from NewSchools Venture Fund. “If we’re going to close the achievement gap and prepare all students for success in college and in life, we will need cutting-edge approaches that address these challenges at a systemic level – and a new wave of entrepreneurs that can create and grow the products, services and organizations that will get us there.”

Participants in the first and pilot cohort were chosen for their creativity, commitment to education, and their drive to build innovative solutions that benefit all kids. The inaugural cohort of The EdTech Entrepreneurs Lab includes the following 25 aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • Ratna Amin
  • David Blake, Zinch
  • Samir Bolar, Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Brittany Erickson, Oliver Wyman
  • David Feinberg, Launchpad Development Company
  • Omar Garriott, Adobe Education Marketing
  • Kimberly Jacobson, Oodle
  • Melissa Jones, College Summit
  • Lal Jones-Bey, Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • Nithya Krishnamoorthy, Google
  • Kai Kung, Intel Corporation
  • Keith McDaniel, SERP Institute
  • Samir Mehta
  • Jessica Morgan, Stanford University
  • Percilla Ortega
  • Seth Saavedra, Teach For America
  • Holly Shelton
  • Robert Strain, Teach For America
  • Alyson Sudow, Envision Schools
  • James Truong
  • Jenny Tsai, Google
  • Anna Utgoff, Aspire Public Schools
  • Melissa Wagasky, Encorps Teachers and La Clinic
  • Cameron White, NewSchools Venture Fund

“We live in a region of the country that leads the nation in providing innovative solutions to meet our modern needs,” says Teach For America – Bay Area Executive Director, Emily Bobel. “We are fortunate to now have the opportunity to bring the lessons learned and the ingenuity displayed in the technology sector to the Bay Area’s classrooms.” In closing, Bobel says that she “[believes] that this partnership will be a key component in helping classroom, school, and district leaders transform – not simply fix – our region’s schools.“

The EdTech Lab program will begin in February 2011 and will run through summer 2011. Learn more at the project’s website

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund seeks to transform public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs so that all children – especially those in underserved communities – have the opportunity to succeed. As a national nonprofit venture philanthropy firm, NewSchools supports education entrepreneurs, a special breed of innovators who create new nonprofit and for-profit organizations that redefine our sense of what is possible in public education. Founded in 1998, NewSchools has invested in more than 50 nonprofit and for-profit organizations and raised nearly $180 million. NewSchools takes an active role with each venture in our portfolio to help them create sustainable organizations that generate breakthrough results at scale for the students they serve. In addition to this direct support to entrepreneurs, NewSchools also connects their work to the broader public education reform movement to catalyze systems change. For more information, visit

About Teach For America

Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. Today, more than 8,200 corps members are teaching in 39 regions across the country while 20,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity. For more information, visit

About the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford

Five years ago, those at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design started with a dream about building a place for design at Stanford. They wanted to build a place where design thinking is the glue that binds people together, a place they called the The has become a hub for Stanford students and faculty in engineering, medicine, business, the humanities, and education to learn design thinking and work together to solve big problems in a human centered way. These students have taken the design thinking methodology and applied it in new places to new problems. Along the way, they have developed their own process for reliably producing innovative solutions to nearly any challenge. In a time when there is hunger for innovation everywhere, they believe our first responsibility is to help prepare a generation of students to rise with the challenges of our times. These “students” will increasingly range from kindergarteners to senior executives at Fortune 500 companies. For more information, visit