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Ed-Tech Companies Wanted for AT&T Aspire Accelerator Program

By Sherrell Dorsey

For the second year in a row, telecommunications company AT&T is selecting five education technology companies to participate in its six-month Aspire Accelerator program. The program is open to any ed-tech venture working to develop technology to support students’ education and career success. Throughout the duration of the program, ventures will receive financial, mentoring and business support. Final applications are due today, Feb. 5.

Aspire Accelerator was launched last year as part of AT&T’s $350 million commitment to improving student education and outcomes. Funds have also supported online education portals such as Udacity and Khan Academy.   

Last year’s inaugural class included five for- and not-for-profit organizations hailing from Baltimore, Washington, D.C, California, North Carolina and New York. Their products have reached more than 2 million students, 200,000 teachers and 4,500 schools across the country, according to a press release from AT&T.

LearnTrials, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, provides an ed-tech platform management system where verified educators post recommendations and best practices to give teachers and administrators tailored insights that improve instruction and budgets.

San Francisco-based mobile platform GradGuru, designed to increase community college retention, delivers notifications to students’ smart phones with reminders of academic and financial aid deadlines and provides encouragement and guidance through academic milestones.

Tools and technologies with a direct focus on building solutions for students at-risk of dropping out of school will be given special consideration for the program. Candidates will not need to relocate to participate.

“The Aspire Accelerator shows how we use the power of our network to build a better tomorrow,” said Nicole Anderson, assistant vice president of social innovation at AT&T. “The inaugural class’ results continue to amaze us and are being used by students, teachers and districts daily. I can’t wait to see the game-changing solutions this year’s class will bring.”

Advisors and collaborators to the program include notable names from leading education and technology companies comprised of DonorsChoose.org, Black Girls Code, EdSurge, Kapor Center for Social Impact, GSV Summit, Declara and Tipping Point Community.

The Aspire Accelerator’s customized six-month program includes the following resources for selected ventures:

  • Aspire investment: A $100,000 AT&T investment and an additional $25,000 for each venture to cover costs of the program. For nonprofit companies, the investment will be a general contribution. They receive this in exchange for participating in the Aspire Accelerator and meeting certain requirements, including submitting impact measurements.

  • Mentorship: Access to AT&T and external mentors from education and technology.

  • National platform: Inclusion in the broader AT&T Aspire initiative, which is committed to driving innovation in education.

  • Flexible location: Organizations can participate from where they are, without relocating.
“We need to welcome ideas from every corner that use technology in innovative ways to help students succeed,” said Nancy Poon Lue, executive director of GSV Summit. “The Aspire Accelerator’s unique focus on helping both for- and non-profit ed-tech ventures thrive is already having an impact. I’m excited to join the Board of Advisors and see what the 2016 class will achieve.”

The Aspire Accelerator application is open through Feb. 5. Selected ventures will begin May 2016. Candidates must complete their projects by the end of the program and demo their work in October. For additional information and to apply, visit the AT&T Aspire Accelerator website.

Images courtesy of AT&T

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Sherrell Dorsey is a social impact storyteller, social entrepreneur and advocate for environmental, social and economic equity in underserved communities. Sherrell speaks and writes frequently on the topics of sustainability, technology, and digital inclusion.

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