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News & Press: Colorado Technology Industry

Two Colorado Ed-Tech Startups Selected for AT&T Aspire Accelerator

Monday, May 9, 2016   (0 Comments)
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2016 Class of For- and Non-Profit Organizations Gathers in San Francisco

DENVER, May 9, 2016 — AT&T is working with 6 innovative ed-tech startups, including Bitsbox of Boulder and Couragion of Denver, for the 2016 AT&T Aspire Accelerator class. The program is in its second year and is part of our $350 million commitment to help students succeed in school and beyond. The Accelerator supports for- and non-profit organizations driving student success and career readiness. The primary measure of success for the Aspire Accelerator is societal impact that the participating organizations create.
 
Bitsbox teaches school-aged kids to love coding, because coding is about making stuff, and making stuff is empowering and important. Bitsbox delivers insanely fun app-building projects to thousands of subscribers every month. They print the projects on beautiful books and trading cards and stickers and (sometimes) whoopie cushions. They send them in the mail because kids love mail.
 
Couragion modernizes career planning with real role models who mimic diverse populations and build perceived personal capacity. In a learner-led environment, students see careers firsthand and rate their characteristics to determine those that match their values and interests. For best fit careers, students receive ongoing, personalized programming. This not only helps to further explore careers, but also to hone skills and make immediate progress towards improving their workforce readiness and employability.
 
The participating organizations are from around the country. They have unique stories and diverse leadership. Women founded and lead 4 of the 6 companies.
 
·      Bitsbox (Boulder, Colo.) – monthly subscription to coding projects that teach grade-schoolers to program apps

·      Cogent Education (Athens, Ga.) – this interactive case study software has students acting like scientists, learning science concepts and honing problem solving skills

·      CommonLit (501(c)3 / Washington, D.C.) – a free digital platform that helps teachers find and plan engaging lessons and track student progress in reading

·      Couragion (Denver, Colo.) – an engaging app that exposes students to STEM careers using videos, games and self-reflection quizzes

·      TalkingPoints (501(c)3 / San Francisco, Calif.) – a multilingual texting platform that connects teachers, families and students via mobile technology

·      The Graide Network (Chicago, Ill.) – an online platform connecting teachers with on-demand teaching assistants to grade and provide thorough feedback on student work
 
“Tech is our business. And by applying it to challenges in education, anything becomes possible. This year’s Accelerator class is doing just that,” said Nicole Anderson, Assistant Vice President of Social Innovation, AT&T. “We’re eager to start working with them to help scale their solutions. We’re seeing the growth of last year’s class, and that builds excitement for this year.”
 
The participants receive financial investment, mentorship and access to expert services from AT&T and others.
 
The external advisory board includes:
·       Charles Best, founder and CEO DonorsChoose.org

·       Kimberly Bryant, founder, Black Girls CODE

·       Betsy Corcoran, co-founder and CEO, EdSurge

·       Ben Jealous, partner, Kapor Center for Social Impact

·       Nancy Poon Lue, executive director of GSV Summit

·       Daniel Lurie, founder and CEO, Tipping Point Community

·       Ramona Pierson, co-founder and CEO, Declara

·       Sebastian Thrun, president and chairman, Udacity

“The Aspire Accelerator’s approach intrigued me. Their unique focus on the social impact of ed-tech innovations and the ability for both for- or non-profit organizations to participate was exciting,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org. “I look forward to meeting this year’s class and seeing how they use technology in new ways to help students thrive.”
 
Launched in 2015, Aspire Accelerator’s customized 6-month program includes:
 
•      Aspire Investment – $100,000 AT&T investment and an additional $25,000 for each venture to cover costs of the program. For non-profit 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 other education and tech mentors.

•      National Platform – inclusion in the broader AT&T Aspire initiative, which is committed to driving innovation in education.

•      Flexible Location – organizations can participate from their location.
 
The Aspire Accelerator builds on our investment in ed-tech. From launching the Nanodegree program with the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) leader Udacity, to committing to provide $100 million of mobile Internet as part of the White House ConnectED initiative, AT&T is using its tech expertise to transform learning and open a new world of opportunities to students everywhere.
 
 
About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T
AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. AT&T Aspire is AT&T’s signature philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism, and mentoring. Through Aspire, we’ve passed the $250 million mark on our plan to invest $350 million in education from 2008-2017.

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