Social Entrepreneurs Honored for Contributions to Public Education

May 8, 2012

NewSchools Venture Fund announces 2012 honorees for Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards at annual convening of education innovators

Oakland, CA – May 7, 2012 – Dedicated to honoring the individuals making a difference in the lives of students in low-income communities across the country, not-for-profit venture philanthropy firm NewSchools Venture Fund announced recipients of its annual awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year, Organization of the Year, and Change Agents of the Year Award. NewSchools presented the five awards, designed to recognize and celebrate the achievements of social innovators working to improve public education, in a ceremony preceding the NewSchools Summit in Burlingame, CA on May 1 and 2.

The NewSchools Summit is the leading event on education innovation nationally, and was attended by more than 900 entrepreneurs, philanthropists, policymakers, and educators this year.

The 2012 award winners are:

Entrepreneur of the Year
Anthony Kim, Education Elements

Anthony Kim founded Education Elements to help schools design blended learning solutions that meet their needs, and to provide school leaders and teachers with a partner to help them embed online content and data into daily instruction. While online learning and educational technology are gaining traction in schools across the country, true blended learning – in which educators leverage online resources and traditional classroom instruction – is a small but growing segment of the market. Anthony Kim has made major traction in spreading blended learning in ways that will benefit students by helping to personalize their education.

“John Doerr likes to say entrepreneurs do more than anyone thinks is possible with less than anyone thinks is possible — a spot-on description for Anthony Kim,” said NewSchools principal Jennifer Carolan. “Anthony has pioneered a vision that schools should have a choice about the the types of online content their students need and that technology should be there to support teachers and not the other way around.”

Organization of the Year Award
Match Education

Match Education is a national education nonprofit, based in Boston.  It undertakes three main bodies of work, day-to-day:

  • Match Schools.   Match Education operates a growing portfolio of high-performing and innovative urban charter schools.  These schools are widely recognized for their success in preparing low-income students for success in 4-year colleges and for their innovations.
  • Match Teachers.  Match Education trains teachers for urban classrooms and operates a fully sanctioned graduate school of education.   The goal of Match Teachers is to train unusually effective rookie teachers and, over time, to develop new insight into the nature of effective teaching and teacher training.
  • Match Export.   Match Education consults nationally with urban districts, charter networks, institutions of higher education, and policy makers that are interested in practices and ideas developed at Match Education.

Match Education is an R&D platform for national school reform.  Its broadest goal is to discover new ideas and practices that can matter broadly to school reform.

 “Over the past decade, Match Education has grown into a hub for education innovation – reconceptualizing tutoring, teacher training and coaching, while building schools that aim to transform life trajectories for hundreds of children,” said NewSchools associate partner Peter Fishman.

Growth Mindset Award
Sajan George, Matchbook Learning

Driven by a passion to realize the dream that all students regardless of background can learn and succeed in our society, Sajan George founded Matchbook Learning, a national non-profit hybrid K-12 school turnaround management organization. Founded on the premise that online and blended learning represents the first and best chance for scalable success at the levels we aspire to in our nation, Matchbook Learning intervenes in chronically failing schools and creates an environment for students and teachers to succeed.

“As CEO of Matchbook Learning, Sajan frequently attempts what others say is impossible to achieve in a turnaround school,” said NewSchools partner Deborah McGriff. “Yet, he is always responsive to feedback and is self-reflective. He has a long-term view of change and he and his students frequently think about what they want to be when they grow up.”

Tenacity and Grit Award
Jennifer Green and Christina Hall, Urban Teacher Center

Jennifer Green and Christina Hall founded Urban Teacher Center on the belief that schools need a guarantee that before teachers are certified, they can demonstrate student achievement gains. UTC’s innovative model ensures that districts get only teacher candidates who have demonstrated effectiveness in the classroom.

“Christina Hall and Jennifer Green have overcome many first year challenges that have tested their entrepreneurial mettle – their office burned to the ground, a key contract was withdrawn in the 11th hour, and they have had to sort through the complexities of training teachers across two states, in both the district and charter sectors,” said NewSchools partner Julie Mikuta. “They have persevered with a relentless focus on quality.”

Change Agents of the Year Award
Ben Austin, Parent Revolution and David Coleman

Ben has dedicated much of his career to fighting for a California where every child can get a great public education. Prior to launching the Parent Revolution campaign, he directed the successful campaign to transform Locke High School from the worst high school in Los Angeles into a college preparatory model of reform.

“Ben Austin has helped empower parents so that they have a meaningful voice in the governance of the schools their children attend. This democratic principle is impossible to argue against, which is why parent empowerment statutes are spreading so rapidly – and Ben’s helping to organize those parents along the way,” said NewSchools Director of Policy Benjamin Riley.

David Coleman grew up in a family of educators and has never left the field. When in school at Yale, he taught at the Ulysses S. Grant Program for low-income New Haven students and started Branch—an innovative community service program that worked with students in high schools in New Haven.  In 2008, David cofounded Student Achievement Partners, which went on to play a leading role in developing the Common Core State Standards in math and literacy.

“We have reached the ‘how’ stage of Common Core implementation, and there is no one working harder to prepare educators for this transition than David Coleman. The effort he’s leading is absolutely vital to making this transition to rigorous academic standards,” said Riley.

Media Contact

Joe Ventura, Senior Communications Manager
NewSchools Venture Fund
[email protected]