Silicon Valley and Beyond: AT&T is finding the next great ed-tech startups across the US

For students today, a whole world of possibilities is available with the tap of a finger. Six-year-olds can get a monthly subscription to a box of coding materials. Middle school students can explore STEM careers by playing games on an iPad app. And high school students can perform virtual experiments in the molecular world.

Purposeful learning isn’t limited to the amount of classroom time or the number of books a student can fit in their backpack. Now it can happen anywhere at any time, often through innovative ed-tech. And the innovative teams coming up with the ideas? They can be anywhere too!

Take Bitsbox, the company that’s producing those subscription code boxes. Their team may have Silicon Valley-esque job titles like “Code Monkey,” “Principal Cat Herder,” and “Fearless Leader,” but they’re actually located in Boulder, Colorado. And those virtual science experiments? They’re the brainchild of Cogent Education, in Athens Georgia.

With the right resources, tech startups can thrive no matter where they are. AT&T knows this, which is why it searched nationwide for the next great ed-tech startups to join the Aspire Accelerator. In 2015 and 2016, the Accelerator found promising companies in Silicon Valley and beyond, in cities including Denver, Chicago, Raleigh, and Washington, DC. No matter where a startup is located, if it has a revolutionary idea at the intersection of education and technology, AT&T is ready to listen.

The Aspire Accelerator class of 2016 includes the following organizations:

  • Bitsbox (Boulder, Colo.) — a 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

As part of the six-month program, startups in this class will receive a $100,000 AT&T investment and an additional $25,000 to cover costs of the program, including travel. For non-profit companies, the investment will be a general contribution. Each company will receive mentorship from AT&T and other education and tech leaders, as well as the national platform that the AT&T Aspire initiative provides. Organizations can participate from their current locations, contributing to a nationwide network of ed-tech innovation.

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