Million-Dollar Prize Promised to Best Nonprofit Ed Tech Idea
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Nonprofits with an education technology idea have until the end of this month to apply for a million-dollar prize to help them develop it. The winner will be announced on Dec. 21, 2018. The funds may be used for whatever the winner deems appropriate, but whatever transactions take place will need to be transparent.
The competition is being run by the Frank Foundation, an apparent philanthropic arm of Frank Money, a private start-up that has launched technology to enable nonprofits and other organizations to make their investments and expenses visible to outsiders through a widget. "Frank," as it's called, connects directly to the organization's bank account and displays information about each transaction for every follower to see in real time. With an additional "stories" feature, teams can streamline work, share with each other and receive comments and feedback. The company was begun by five siblings, the Liberman family, all born in Russia, but now split between four locations, including Los Angeles, Palo Alto and Moscow.
In a LinkedIn post about the competition, brothers David and Daniil Liberman said they chose to focus on education "because of its substantial impact on human lives both on individuals and socio-economically." The Frank Prize will generate "new ideas on how to fix education nationally," they wrote. "By helping the winning team to make their project a reality, we hope to create valuable knowledge of how to (or how not to) design educational technologies and achieve bigger results with less effort."
The application is fairly succinct but ends with two requests not normally seen on these kinds of forms. One question asks for the individual's Employer Identification Number (EIN), the number used by the Internal Revenue Service to identify companies; in the case of an individual, that would be the Social Security Number. Second, contestants are asked to draft a "short blog post" about joining the Frank community, including "plans and aspirations."
The judges, including some of the Libermans as well as 2U Chief Technology Officer, James Kenigsberg, will select 10 finalist projects for interviews. A shortlist of three finalists will be asked to make presentations in front of a panel, which will choose the best project.
The winning entrant must agree to use the Frank technology to implement the project, thereby making all financial information publicly available for anybody else with Frank.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.