AT&T Aspire Accelerator to Jumpstart Education Startups, Nonprofits


AT&T has announced the launch of the AT&T Aspire Accelerator, which offers financial, mentoring, and business support to education startups and nonprofits.

The program, along with the name, come as part of the company's $350 million education initiative meant to help students reach their full potential. The initiative has also offered support to such educational startups as Udacity and Khan Academy.

"The Aspire Accelerator shows how we use the power of our network to build a better tomorrow," said Nicole Anderson, assistant vice president, 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."

While the six-month program will be based in San Francisco, participants will not need to relocate to take advantage of the Aspire Accelerator's services. Four in-person sessions will include a kickoff day as well as a demo day in October. Other than that, an "Accelerator Entrepreneur in Residence" will meet remotely with participants on a weekly basis, which gives them access to the company's network of mentors and Aspire partners 24 hours per day.

The program includes Aspire Investment, a $100,000 AT&T investment in addition to another $25,000 for each venture that will go to covering various costs of the program. That investment will be a general contribution for non-profits that will be offered in exchange for participation in the Aspire Accelerator, as well as for meeting additional requirements including submitting impact measurements.

The program also offers access to AT&T and external mentors from education and technology, as well as a national platform and the ability to participate from any location without needing to relocate.

The Accelerator will offer a variety of areas of focus, including mobile apps to boost educational outcomes; platforms for teachers, students, or parents; learning and curriculum management tools; assessment and outcome tracking platforms; education distribution; and increased access for existing best practices. Special consideration will be given to any solutions offered for students at-risk of dropping out of school. At least one technical member must be included on each team to be considered.

Any venture working to create technology to help students succeed, both educationally and career-wise, can participate.

Applications will be accepted until February 20 for the inaugural class. Those who are accepted will be notified by April 15 with the program set to begin in May, writes Tony Wan for EdSurge.

AT&T looks to advance education, boost community spirit and improve lives through community initiatives. These projects work toward the creation of learning opportunities while also boosting academic achievement or taking community needs into consideration.

The company's signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, works to bring innovation into education by bringing together various resources, such as funding, technology, employee volunteerism and mentoring.

AT&T Aspire has an ambitious series of goals both for the company and the world, including raising high school graduation rates in the United States to 90% by 2020 and closing the skills gap, which includes increasing the number of graduates with post-secondary degrees or credentials to 60% by 2025.

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