Teach For America Announces Social Innovation Award Winners

On June 15, three winners were chosen to receive Teach For America’s Social Innovation Award, an annual competition intended to spark bold, new innovations that expand opportunities for students in underserved communities and address the root causes of educational inequity.

This year’s competition received an unprecedented 161 applications, with each budding alumni entrepreneur participating in up to three rounds of reviews by more than 60 judges from leading industry organizations. Applicants competed in one of two tracks: the Overall Track, for alumni who have already tested their idea or venture for impact; or the Pre-Pilot Track, for those who have yet to test their idea or venture.

The 2015 Social Innovation Award Winners are:

CommonLit – Michelle Brown (Mississippi Delta, ’09)

CommonLit is a nonprofit organization that delivers high-quality, free instructional materials to literacy teachers. At CommonLit.org, 5th-12th grade teachers can access a diverse, open collection of the best news articles, short stories, historical documents, scientific articles, and poems—all organized by the themes students love to discuss.

Kinvolved – Miriam Altman (New York City '08) & Alex Meis​

Kinvolved is improving early childhood through college achievement by facilitating real-time communication among members of students' support networks. The company provides apps to K-12 schools and higher education institutions to streamline communication and leverage collaboration in order to increase student attendance. Knowing absenteeism is the first indicator of underlying problems, Kinvolved links students and families to the support and interventions they need to get into school every day.

Rooted School – Jonathan Johnson (Greater New Orleans ’10)

Rooted School is a network of charter high schools that prepares New Orleans students for high-growth, high-wage industries before college. The flagship campus focuses on the digital sector, creating a model of schools that provide lucrative career pathways for the Greater New Orleans region.

Teach For America’s Social Innovation Award recognizes alumni whose work exemplifies innovation and the core values of Transformational Change, Diversity, Leadership, Team, and Respect & Humility. Winners receive $100,000 in seed funding and the opportunity to engage in professional coaching for early stage entrepreneurs.

“We are very proud of these award winners and all those who imagine new paths to educational equity and social justice,” said Naya Bloom, Teach For America’s Vice President of Social Innovation. “All three organizations address some of the biggest, most entrenched problems facing teachers, children, and families in low-income communities by creating game-changing solutions.”

The Teach For All network congratulates the 2015 winners and looks forward to learning from their vision and progress!

Learn more about Michelle, Miriam, and Jonathan, as well the seven 2015 Social Innovation Award Finalists, all of whom are doing exciting work in pursuit of expanding educational opportunity across the US.