NewSchools Presents “Innovation Challenge” at 2011 Education Nation Summit

September 24, 2011

Young entrepreneurs put their education innovations to the test to win $100,000 prize and support

New York—September 24, 2011—Working with NBC News and Citi, NewSchools venture Fund announced today the “Innovation Challenge”, a multi-day competition between three teams of entrepreneurs to be aired as part of the 2011 NBC News Education Nation Summit. The competition carries $100,000 in prize money, and the winning team will receive support in developing and growing their organization from NewSchools.

The “Innovation Challenge” competition pits three teams of young innovators from across the US against each other in a series of trials, culminating in a pitch competition at the 2011 Summit. Education Nation Summit participants will get to see it all in action as NBC News cameras follow the teams in the days leading up to the final competition. NBC News Correspondents Peter Alexander and Jenna Wolfe help guide the teams through their challenges.

“Entrepreneurs with great ideas are helping to solve the problems of public education,” said NewSchools CEO Ted Mitchell. “The Innovation Challenge offers America to see, close-up, what innovation looks like. It’s the first time anything like this has happened, and it’s exciting.”

The organizations featured on the “Innovation Challenge” are early-stage education organizations that have created technological tools that empower teachers and parents. The teams are:

  • ClassDojo: Four in 10 US teachers report spending more than 50% of their class time on behavior management – that’s half the school year. And 53% of teachers who quit cite uncontrollable behavior issues as one of the biggest reasons they’re quitting – that’s half of our teachers. ClassDojo is a real-time behavior management tool to help teachers improve student behavior in the classroom. Just 4 weeks after launch, ClassDojo is currently being used with 7,000+ teachers and 150,000+ students.  
  • TruantToday: Schools lose $30-50 for each day a student skips school. That totals up to big dollars–San Diego lost $102 million last year due to truancy. Chronically-truant students are twice as likely to drop out and 82% more likely to commit a crime than students who attend regularly. TruantToday, founded by 16-year-old entrepreneur Zak Kukoff, allows schools to send out instant text and email messages to parents when students cut class. In pilot testing, TruantToday improved attendance 75%. TruantToday was named “most likely to succeed” at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference.
  • Kickboard: Close to 50% of teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years. One of the main reasons is lack of support. Kickboard offers that support, through web-based software that enables teachers to use data to improve student performance. Kickboard’s intuitive interface gives teachers and administrators the ability to collect and analyze academic and behavioral performance efficiently and in real time so that they can make appropriate and timely interventions. In a survey, 93% of teachers who use Kickboard, agreed that Kickboard helps make them more effective in the classroom.

To watch the “Innovation Challenge” stream live, visit for scheduling information.

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a not-for-profit organization working to close the achievement gap by funding and supporting entrepreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to the problems in public education so that all children have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Since our founding in 1998, NewSchools has invested $180 million in more than 40 nonprofit and for-profit educational organizations working to promote student achievement. Recognizing that neither private charity nor capital markets alone are enough to solve the problem of education inequality, we blend the best of both approaches to ensure an excellent education is available to every child. We actively share what we’ve learned through our investments, bring together educational leaders from across the country, and advocate for smart policies at the federal level. For more information, visit

About “Education Nation”

“Education Nation” seeks to create a thoughtful, well-informed dialogue with policymakers, thought-leaders, educators, parents and the public, in pursuit of the shared goal of providing every American with an opportunity to achieve the best education in the world. These discussions cover the challenges, potential solutions and innovations spanning the education landscape. By providing quality information to the public, NBC News hopes to educate Americans so they can make decisions about how best to improve our education system both in the near and long terms, and to shine a spotlight on one of the most urgent national issues of our time, so that America can once again become the Education Nation of the world.

About Citi

Citi, the leading global financial services company, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

All Inquiries:

Joe Ventura
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