Empowering students to tackle tough education challenges as innovators and entrepreneurs.

Students from across the country are invited to submit a business plan and a video pitch for a for-profit or non-profit startup that includes an innovative strategy, product or service designed to address one of these four challenge topics:

     1. Middle Grades Matter
     2. Skills, Skills, Skills
     3. Education Pays
     4. Finish Faster

For more information on this challenge click here.
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Submissions will be judged by a panel of prominent educators and entrepreneurs. Awards will be made in four categories:

     1. 6th – 8th grade students
     2. 9th – 12th grade students
     3. Undergraduate students
     4. Out of school youth

Winning students will be celebrated by senior White House and Department of Education officials, and may qualify for additional recognition opportunities.  

Students will retain intellectual property ownership of their submissions, however, the Department of Education will retain a transferable license to use, modify, distribute, and publicly perform/display the Students’ submissions (which include the video pitch) for the promotion of Department programs and initiatives.  Students, by providing their submissions, also agree that the Department of Education may use their name, appearance, and likeness for the aforementioned informational purposes.

What are the challenges?

1. Middle Grades Matter

Helping middle school students transition to high school and stay on track to graduate.

2. Skills, Skills, Skills

Providing students in rural, urban, and/or high-poverty communities with opportunities for internships or other work-based learning experiences that help them develop skills for success in postsecondary education, 21st century careers, and civic life.

3. Education Pays

Making it easier for students and families to make informed decisions about postsecondary education based on affordability and value, to choose colleges best suited to their needs, priced affordably, and consistent with their education and career goals.

4. Finish Faster

Increasing the likelihood that postsecondary students complete their degrees, and decreasing the time it takes them to finish, such as by improving and speeding up remedial education.

If you have questions regarding the National Education Startup Challenge, email:  EDStartupChallenge@ed.gov

View full rules

Judges

The National Education Startup Challenge will be judged by a panel of prominent educators and entrepreneurs.

The National Education Startup Challenge will be judged by a panel of prominent educators and entrepreneurs.

Steve Brown

Steve Brown
Judging Coordinator

Peyton Holland

Peyton Holland

Penny Cooke

Penny Cooke

Mark Leslie

Mark Leslie

Susan T. Rice

Susan T. Rice

C.J. Wetzler

C.J. Wetzler

Kristy Wheeler

Kristy Wheeler

Timothy Garippa

Timothy Garippa

Amy Hollingsworth

Amy Hollingsworth

Jeff Jordan

Cynthia Greene

Cynthia Greene

Casey Kruer

Jessica Leftwich

Jessica Leftwich

Kirk W. Lawson

Kirk W. Lawson

Clay Mercer

Kevin Keith  

Kevin Keith  

Judging Criteria

  • Opportunity (up to 20 points)
    Applicant demonstrates a thorough understanding of the problem being addressed (which students, which location(s), and describes a clear and compelling need and demand for the specific innovation being proposed. Strong support evidence is provided.
  • Business Description (up to 25 points)
    The applicant provides a clear, thorough, and detailed description of the education startup and the innovation it would introduce. The business strategy is appropriate for the nature and scope of the problem being addressed.
  • Innovation (up to 25 points)
    The idea demonstrates a new way of thinking about the problem. The applicant’s submission demonstrates how the proposed innovation is informed by, different from, and likely to be better than existing efforts. The idea is realistic and feasible.
  • Marketing Plan (up to 10 points)
    The applicant articulates a clear, compelling, and thorough marketing plan for engaging clients, customers, funders, and/or investors.
  • Financial Plan (up to 10 points)
    The applicant presents a clear, thorough, and realistic financial plan, whether the startup is a for-profit business or non-profit organization.
  • Sixty-second Video Pitch (up to 10 points)
    The applicant presents an engaging and persuasive video pitch to clients, customers, investors, and/or funders that makes the case for launching and implementing the startup as a necessary and viable solution to the education challenge addressed.

How to enter

1. Review the competition Rules and the Challenge Topics.

2. Using the submission format and content categories provided below, create your submission document.

3. Develop a one-minute video pitch, and post the video online (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).

4. Upload the submission document (as a Word document) and provide a link to the video pitch on Challenge.gov by 5:00 p.m. EST on May 1, 2012.

Submission Format:

Electronic file format: pdf, doc, or rtf
Page limit:
10
Text font, size, and spacing:
Times New Roman, 12, single spaced
Charts, tables, and graphics:  Permitted; these count toward page total
Margins:
 1.0”
Header:  Project Name and Competition Age Group Category (6th-8th Grade, 9th-12th Grade, Undergraduate/Postsecondary, or Out of School Youth)
Footer:  Page numbers

 Please note: submissions that do not meet these requirements may not be reviewed.

Submission Content Categories:

A.   Opportunity (up to 20 points) – What’s the specific education problem the startup aims to address, and which students in particular would be affected? The focus can be local, state, or national in scope. Why is an innovative approach required? Perform a market analysis. Where will the demand come from (schools, educators, students, others) to adopt your innovation and sustain your startup? What will be the likely benefit to students if the startup is launched and the innovation is adopted?

B.   Project/Business Description (up to 25 points) – Describe the innovation and how it will address the problem. Provide the startup’s mission statement and consider using SMART goals (specific, measurable, aggressive but attainable, realistic, time-bound) to describe what it would do. Is it a non-profit organization or a for-profit business? Include the sales or fundraising strategy. Include a time line for development and implementation. Describe how you will make the innovation available to clients or customers (schools, educators, students, others) and how impact on students will be tracked. Introduce the startup team.

C.   Innovation (up to 25 points) – Explain the innovative nature of the strategy, product or service. Perform a competitor analysis. How is this innovation informed by, different from, and likely to be better than current approaches, if any exist? In what ways does this strategy, product or service present a new way of understanding and addressing the problem?  What is the potential for sparking a major change in education and a dramatic improvement in student success – whether local, state, or national?

D.   Marketing Plan (up to 10 points) – Describe how you would market this innovation to potential clients, customers, funders, and/or investors based on what you learned from your market analysis. How will you get educators and students excited about it? 

E.    Financial Plan (up to 10 points) – Provide a financial plan that includes categories and actual amounts of expected costs and projected revenues (sales to customers, funds from foundations, etc.).

F.   Video Pitch (up to 10 points) – Present a sixty-second video pitch.  Show how the startup would deliver an innovative, viable solution to the pressing education challenge the applicant chose to address. Target the pitch to potential users, customers, funders, and/or investors.