MAKE A NOISE, FIND YOUR VOICE: For the third consecutive year, NBC News is hosting a three-day long talkfest around education, its "Education Nation" symposium. It will take place on Sept. 23-25 in New York City, this year centered at the beloved New York City Public Library. In past years, it's been a star-studded gathering of education, business, government and philanthropic leaders. Coming on the heels of the Chicago teachers' strike, NBC should make a special effort to mix up the digerati with a healthy dose of educators.
For entrepreneurs, one of the highlights last year was the "Citi Innovation Challenge," a competition jointly sponsored by NBC News, Citi and NewSchools Venure Fund. Three startups are chosen (largely by NewSchools Venture Fund) to undertake five "challenges." (Full disclosure: EdSurge has received funding from NSVF.) The experience culminates with the startups doing a "pitch." Whichever one racks up the most points for all the challenges wins--and takes home $100k in funding from NSVF and an incalculable amount of media attention.
Last year, Class Dojo vaunted to world attention in part through the exposure it received by winning the Citi Innovation Challenge and getting time on NBC News' "TODAY" show. (Here are last year's three final pitches.) Word on the street is that more than 3.5 million teachers and students are now registered for Class Dojo--a breathtaking adoption rate, especially for an education company.
This year's champions will be:
For their first challenge, the trio will get coaching from Al Roker about how to connect with an audience--and then an opportunity to write and record a short presentation. Then the hard work: they have to convince the world to "vote" them up.
The Challenge organizers have yet to lay out the other challenges that the three companies will undertake but they will likely involve variations on presenting the platform. The judging panel includes Craig Barrett, Retired CEO/Chairman of the
Board, Intel; Kaya Henderson, Chancellor, Washington DC Public Schools;
Walter Isaacson, President & CEO, The Aspen Institute; and Mark
Mason, Chief Executive Officer, Citi Holdings.
Oh, but there's more! The actual symposium will be bracketed by NBC News reports and programming on education from Sept. 21 through 28. Of particular interest: portraits of ten successful school programs from around the U.S., along with details about how they did it.
We're looking forward to those portraits--as well as hearing the voices of teachers from throughout the U.S. who are making a difference every day. Let's spend less time on the grandiose calls for change and focus on the actual gritty work by the folks on the ground--even if they don't always see eye to eye.