It’s a highly selective process to join the fifth LEANLAB K-12 fellowship, said Katie Boody, but two Kansas City startups made the cut.
K12 Perform and Base Academy of Music will join four other cohort members — hailing from the Midwest to Washington D.C. — in the August-to-November EdTech accelerator program. LEANLAB is partnering with Crossroads Preparatory Academy, Lee A. Tolbert, and Pitcher Elementary to put innovative solutions into Kansas City schools, the program announced this week.
“We’ve always had a strong belief in the power of the people closest to education in Kansas City — parents, students and teachers,” said Boody, LEANLAB CEO and cofounder. “By partnering directly with local schools, and allowing our fellows immediate access to authentic learning environments, we are able to begin a truly collaborative process. Our goal is to elevate the voice of parents, students and teachers throughout the innovation process and together design the future of Kansas City education.”
LEANLAB will offer $10,000 in seed funding for each team in the cohort and grants to fund subsequent work from the most promising innovations will be awarded at the summation of the program. In 2017, LEANLAB awarded a $25,000 top prize to H3 Enterprises at the culmination of the program, a Launch[ED] event during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
“When I began attending LEANLAB events I was always impressed with the thoughtful and innovated conversations about education they curated,” said Clint Velazquez, CEO of KC-based Base Academy of Music. “Even at short events, I felt like I benefited from the diversity of thought and experiences of the people who gathered. I’m excited to for the fellowship and a chance to extend those conversations, learn from others experiences, and have my ideas developed so my organization can best serve families and students in Kansas City and beyond.”
The six 2018 fellows include:
K12 Perform — Kansas City, Missouri — Brad Maclaughlin and Brett Simpson — Ed-tech hybrid software & service that strengthens school district performance; an APR calculator and modeling tool.
Base Academy of Music — Kansas City, Missouri — Clint Velazquez — One-on-one music lessons with a focus on social and emotional development.
InquirED — Davenport, Iowa — Shanti Elangovan — Online platform and professional development tool, which helps teachers incorporate Inquiry Based Learning into their lessons.
Innovare — Chicago — AJ DeLeon — Professional development, consulting and software solution that guides school leaders through strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation to accelerate school improvement.
Doors to Explore — Sandy Hook, Connecticut — Kelley Johnson — Quickly connects students to workforce pathways and career options within their region.
Words Liive — Washington D.C. — Sage Salvo — English Language Arts lesson plans that use contemporary music to teach literary concepts.
LEANLAB attracted more than 100 applicants for the 2018 K12 fellowship program, according to the organization.
“The application pool this year was more competitive than ever,” said Stephanie Campbell, director of Innovation programs for LEANLAB. “We saw a 94 percent increase in quantity over last year, but it was the overall quality of those applications that was truly remarkable. It’s a testament to the healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem we’re cultivating here that we saw such an interest on the part of entrepreneurs in coming to Kansas City to establish a proof point for their innovations.”
Earlier this year, LEANLAB identified three innovation priorities, distilled from a series of interviews, focus groups, and surveys conducted with local Kansas City schools. The three priority areas—social and emotional learning, critical thinking, and literacy — were used to recruit and select high potential entrepreneurs developing innovations aligned to these three areas.
In late April, the organization launched a rebranding to better communicate its education focus.