LEAP Pitch Fest Featured in Chicago Inno


Here's A Look At The Edtech Companies That Presented At Leap Innovation's Pitchfest

1871-based edtech hub LEAP Innovations capped off an impressive summer with a pitch competition attended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Richard Culatta, head of the Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology.

On Thursday, LEAP and Hive Chicago hosted the Edtech Pitchfest, a pitch competition aimed at bringing together members of the Chicago education community. The event showed off several Chicago edtech companies with promise, and presented the beginning stages of what they hope will make Chicago a national leader in blended learning.

Earlier this summer, LEAP won over $5 million in grants from the Gates Foundation and committed $4 million to local schools from other sources to continue their model of testing edtech solutions and outfitting schools with blended learning. The past week, representatives from several major school districts around the country were in town observing LEAP in action, and discussing ways to bring the model elsewhere around the country. This attention caught the eye of the Department of Education: the Chicago stop on their summer-long "Edtech developer tour" coincided with the Pitchfest.

"We are an anchor for the tech community that is focused on education. We have not had that," said Phyllis Lockett, CEO of LEAP, to Chicago Inno. "[Chicago] has been very focused on bio, digital media, manufacturing, green tech--all very important. But education is foundational to our city, foundational to our country. And we have got to focus on that if we are going to advance as a country."

Mayor Emanuel made a quick stop at the event to applaud what he said will help provide more personalized education for students in Chicago schools.

"What you're doing will allow us to provide education to 400,000 kids at 400,000 speeds and capacities to different degrees," he said to the crowd. "I want the city of Chicago, while making progress on education to also be the epicenter of making progress on education technology…get [innovations] integrated into our classrooms."

Six Chicago edtech companies presented to a panel of judges that included Kenyatta Forbes, CPS' tech innovator of the year; Katrina Stevens, senior advisor at the Office of Edtech; and Shoshana Vernick, head of Sterling Partner's $200 million education investment fund.

The companies were selected through open applications and were selected because they "could have the most impact on education, on students, on helping to advance teaching in and out of the classroom," said Lockett.

Read the full article here.

LEAP Awarded $5.1 Million to Lead National Ed Innovation Program

The pace and quality of innovation in K-12 education may increase and improve, thanks to a significant new initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Chicago’s LEAP Innovations.

Around the nation, organizations aim to transform teaching and learning to better prepare students for the 21st century, often by personalizing learning and leveraging education technology. Edtech helps teachers differentiate instruction more powerfully than ever before. Its promise has spurred an $8.4 billion edtech boom, but little beyond marketing hype is known about how well the products work.

In response, LEAP Innovations helped start a movement to evaluate edtech, piloting products and techniques that personalize instruction to each student’s level, interests, and goals so districts can quickly scale effective innovations. This new grant enables LEAP to drive collaboration among a growing number of edtech evaluators from across the country, creating much needed national industry standards and sharing of best practices. 

“In 1987, then Secretary of Education Bill Bennett called Chicago’s public schools the worst in the nation,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Today, I am proud to say we are leading the country in education innovation. Thanks in large part to LEAP Innovations, Chicago is becoming the national hub for education technology and personalized learning. We are leading a national movement to develop and scale education innovations that work.”

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Breakthrough Schools Chicago Commits $4 Million to Expand Next-Gen Learning in Chicago

LEAP Innovations announced today that 16 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will join seven schools previously selected in 2014 to be eligible for $4 million in philanthropic funding and professional development to create next-generation, personalized learning schools. The schools are located throughout the city and are a mix of traditional, magnet, selective enrollment, alternative and charter elementary and high schools. (Learn more about our schools here.) Each will undergo a complete transformation led by their principal and key teachers to create sustainable, 21st century school models that personalize instruction to meet each student’s needs, goals and learning styles.

“Breakthrough Schools Chicago reaches public schools all across our city to prepare our kids to succeed with 21st century skills,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “These educators are leading the way forward, paving a path for how our schools can thrive in the future.”

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We're Hiring!

Are you passionate about working with educators and innovators to create a new learning trajectory for students? If so, join the LEAP team! Available positions are listed below.

LEAP Innovations - Chief Marketing Officer

LEAP Innovations - Chief Operating Officer

LEAP Innovations - Director, Marketing & Communications

LEAP Innovations - Director, Talent

LEAP Innovations - Executive Assistant

LEAP Innovations - Manager, Edtech Partnerships

LEAP Innovations - Measurement Associate

LEAP Innovations - Personalized Learning Manager

LEAP Innovations - Survey Administrator

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LEAP Welcomes Allan Golston from the Gates Foundation

Last week, Allan Golston, president of the United States Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited Chicago to see next-generation learning in action! After spending some time with the phenomenal students and educators at CICS West Belden, an innovative elementary school on Chicago's west side, Golston met with LEAP leadership and staff at our offices at 1871. A special thank you to West Belden for hosting, and to the Gates Foundation for their continued support!

Next-Gen Learning at Chavez!

LEAP Innovations is proud to help Chicago set the bar nationally for education innovation to transform teaching and learning. Our Breakthrough Schools Chicago initiative is part of an elite national group called the Next-Generation Learning Challenges Regional Funds. Our program provides grants and training to principals and teachers from neighborhood, magnet, selective, charter, turnaround, and alternative elementary and high schools across Chicago who are changing how classrooms look, teachers teach, and students engage in education by doing things such as:

  • Providing students access to differentiated content, from remediation to acceleration, through multi-age classrooms, flexible and dynamic groupings, and competency-based approaches
  • Enabling educators to engage in more 1:1 mentoring, small group instruction, and other activities that boost their effectiveness and satisfaction
  • Creating flexible classrooms with co-teaching and adaptive technologies students leverage through playlists
  • Building learner profiles that focus on academic and non-academic outcomes, allowing students, teachers, and families to map out a future for success

Recently, a group of innovative educators from the NGLC Washington, DC, region, which is led by the Citybridge Foundation, came to Chicago to learn about personalized learning. Follow the break for an article about their visit to one of Chicago's Breakthrough Schools, Chavez Elementary, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

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Match Day 2015 Survey

Thanks to our school teams and company reps who came out to Match Day this weekend! Please take a moment to complete our Match Day survey on your experience. Select the appropriate link below. 

Companies: Take Survey

Schools: Take Survey

Ready to Try a New Edtech Tool?

We're excited to report that LEAP's Literacy Tech Challenge, our first round of full-year pilots, is well underway. We're working with 19 teams across 15 Chicago schools to pilot six ELA edtech products - whew! Check back often for updates - we can't wait to share our results! 

In the meantime, check out our 5 Point Pilot Readiness Checklist. If you're considering trying a new product yourself, answering our five simple questions can help you decide what to work on before getting started, or if you're ready to go! 

Interested in piloting with LEAP this spring? We're getting ready to start recruitment for our next round. Fill out the interest form here, and we'll get back to you with details as soon as they're available. 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Introduces LEAP Innovations!

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett introduced LEAP Innovations in a big way. At our kick-off luncheon, we heard from the civic, education, and philanthropic leaders from across the city who have helped launch the initiative, including our board chair, Mark Furlong from BMO Harris Bank, and Leo Melamed of CME Group. We also met one special student who reminded us what it’s really all about. Thanks for joining us, Juvon!

Our keynote speaker, co-founder and CEO of GSV Capital Michael Moe, braved some nasty Chicago weather and a car ride from Milwaukee just to be there. (Thank you, Michael!) He shared his vision for the next American Revolution, one in which education innovation transforms learning and revitalizes our economy. Check out his presentation here.

Special thanks to Motorola Mobility for hosting us, and to all of our funders and board members for their support. 

Education: The Next Great American Innovation


Throughout history, Chicago has been home to great innovators and their big ideas, from the first skyscraper to the world's first futures exchange. Here at LEAP Innovations, we think education can be the next great American innovation - and we think Chicago is just the place to do it. 

Check out our video to learn more about LEAP and our vision. Want to join us? Get in touch with us here.