Startup Weekend EDU D.C.: Next Gen Schools

    Friday, December 4 - 6, 2015

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend EDU D.C.: Next Gen Schools

Friday, December 4 - 6, 2015

Friday, December 4 - 6, 2015
Event starts at 5:30 pm

Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC)
3101 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20010

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Want to design the future of learning? A next generation school? Pitch your idea. Find your team. Join us for 54 hours.

Do you have ideas about how schools can better serve students? Is the traditional definition of “academic success” too narrow for you? Are you dissatisfied with the state of educational inequity? If so, then I'm writing to invite you to Startup Weekend EDU D.C.: Next Gen Schools. The weekend of December 4, 5, and 6 will be an exciting, fast-paced 54 hours of rethinking K-12 education and designing the schools of the future. The event is presented by Startup Weekend EDU, a 4.0 Schools program, in partnership with CityBridge Foundation. Creative groups of educators, designers, strategists, and other like-minded innovators can join the action to develop next generation school models.

The event:  
We bring together a diverse group of people passionate about making a positive impact on education.  In 54 hours, participants share ideas, form teams, and then quickly prototype and build new models for schools serving students in the Pre-K–12 age span.  Unlike other startup weekends, the result of this weekend won’t be a tech product, but rather a new school model that radically transforms the traditional approach to learning. The event hinges on participants creating a “core innovation” that improves on a central element of schools (e.g. Why should the school day be delineated by a number of fixed periods?  Why should there always be one teacher in front of 30 students?).  Location, space, time, staff, subjects, modalities are all for grabs! On Friday night, anyone can make a 60-second pitch for their idea for reinventing schools.  That night, teams will come together around these ideas—a core innovation to schools—and over the course of the weekend develop a new school model to improve education. On Sunday, the weekend culminates with final presentations and pitches in front of a panel of esteemed judges.  The winning team will receive a non-monetary package aimed at helping them take their idea to the next stage of development.

The participants: We’re looking for 125 passionate educators, parents, students, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers who want to make a difference in education NOW.  Come join a team committed to rethinking how schools work so we can help all students obtain an excellent education.  We welcome educators and collaborators from traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools, and our broader community.

The Friday evening pitch: The Friday evening pitches are made by individuals as the seed around which to form a team.  We hope that about a third of participants will arrive ready to pitch on Friday evening.  We will send more specific instructions for pitching to participants before the event.

The Sunday evening presentations: Each team will have a few short minutes to describe their idea and present their prototype to the judges.  

Judging Criteria

After the presentations, the judges will huddle to determine the first, second, and third place teams.  

With great thanks to Microsoft, our prize sponsor, the winner of Startup Weekend EDU D.C.: Next Gen Schools will get 1776 membership for their team for a year!   1776 is a global incubator and seed fund helping startups transform industries that impact millions of lives every day—education, energy & sustainability, health, transportation and cities.  Membership in the 1776 incubator includes access to the connections, community and expertise that startups need to succeed. Incubator members gain access to a curriculum of classes covering core learn startup and business building topics as well as daily 1:1 office hours where they can dive into challenges and make connections with leading mentors.   

Members are also able to connect into a network of more than 400 fellow founders from around the world who are working on ambitious ideas. On top of that, they have access to a dedicated Startup Champion who can help them navigate the entire 1776 network and offering.  

Startup Weekend EDU winners will also get 24/7 access to the DC and Crystal City 1776 Campus workspaces, where they will be able to connect with fellow members, join hosted events with leading organizations and take advantage of top-notch facilities.  1776 is excited to welcome you!


Top 3 teams will receive free admission to the 4.0 Schools Essentials program if accepted
Finally, the winning team of the NBCUniversal "Open Possibilities Challenge" will receive up to 3 tickets to SXSWedu in Austin, TX
NBCUniversal Open Possibilities Challenge
This Startup Weekend Education event is participating in the nationwide NBCUniversal Open Possibilities challenge! The team with the school model which best prepares students for the 21st century workforce will receive up to 3 tickets to the SXSWedu Conference in Austin, TX! All teams will be considered for this special prize.

What happens after? There is no commitment past Sunday to continue working on the ideas: it’s immersive, it’s intense, and it’s no strings attached. We believe the seeds of great school ideas and networks of committed educators will coalesce in 54 hours.

We want to thank our fantastic partner organizations in putting on this event!
CityBridge Foundation
Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC)
DC Equity Lab
DC Public Schools
NewSchools Venture Fund
Teach For America

Powered By 4.0 Schools
Startup Weekend Education is powered by 4.0 Schools in the USA. 4.0 Schools is a non-profit incubator for education startups and schools. 4.0 is a community of educators, entrepreneurs and families that believe education can be dramatically better for every child. In addition to Startup Weekend Education, 4.0 Schools supports entrepreneurs through its EssentialsLaunch and Community Catalyst programs.

See what it's all about

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Friday December 4th

5:30 pm
Registration & Dinner
Arrive at the venue and get checked in. Dinner will be available when you arrive!

6:15 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

6:45 pm
Ice Breaker

7:15 pm
Intro to prototyping challenge

7:30 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

8:30 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

8:50 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

9:30 pm
Begin Work
Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

10:30 pm
The doors of the building will lock promptly at 11.

Saturday December 5th

8:30 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:15 am
Day 2 Launch
Announcements and guest speaker to launch Day 2

9:30 am
Begin Work
Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend

11:00 am
Coach meetings
Coaches available to meet with teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

12:00 pm
Lunch and mid-day check-In
Grab lunch, all hands check-in, status reports, call for help

12:30 pm
Start your prototyping!
Feel free to leave the building at any time to prototype your ideas in the community.

3:00 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches available to meet with teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

6:30 pm

7:00 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

10:30 pm
The doors of the building will lock promptly at 11.

Sunday December 6th

8:30 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Coach meetings
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

2:00 pm
Pitch feedback
Want to practice your pitch? We will have coaches available for teams.

3:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

4:00 pm
Final Presentations

6:00 pm
Hors d'oeuvres

6:30 pm
Judging & Awards

7:30 pm
Wrap-Up & Go Home!


Alex Brown
Randle Highlands Elementary School, 5th Grade Teacher

Alexander Brown is a fifth grade math teacher and mathematics chair at Randle Highlands Elementary School. He began his career internationally, teaching English in Arusha, Tanzania, and Seoul, South Korea. Upon returning stateside, he taught fourth and fifth grade math at Friendship Public Charter Schools (PCS). At Friendship PCS, he was honored with the distinction of Teacher of the Year in 2011 and received the Epic Award for high student achievement in urban schools. He graduated magna cum laude from Old Dominion University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Nicole Welsh
DC International School, 6th Grade Teacher

Nicole Welsh is a founding faculty member at DC International School (DCI), a language immersion International Baccalaureate candidate school in Washington, D.C. She currently teaches sixth grade English in a one-to-one technology environment at DCI. Previously, Nicole taught eighth grade English at KIPP DC WILL Academy and taught seventh grade language arts at Isaac J. Gourdine Middle School in Fort Washington, Maryland. Nicole was a 2009 Teach For America corps member and completed her undergraduate work in English at the George Washington University.

Sam Ellerbeck
Center City Public Charter School-Brightwood Campus, Special Education Teacher

Samantha Ellerbeck is a fourth through eighth grade special education teacher at Center City Public Charter Schools’ Brightwood Campus. She began her career as a D.C. educator through Urban Teacher Center after serving for a year with AmeriCorps in Oakland, California. Since arriving at Brightwood, Samantha has joined the Center City curriculum team, received a grant from EnjoyReading, and designed and implemented various co-teaching models to reach a diverse range of learners. Samantha graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from Carleton College and earned a master’s degree in elementary and special education through Lesley University.

Event Judges

Abreham Gebre
Georgetown University, Class of 2019

Abreham Gebre is a freshman at Georgetown University and a 2015 graduate of Columbia Heights Education Campus. Abreham was born in Ethiopia and came to the United States with his twin sister and parents when he was four years old. Since then, he has consistently been pushed by his parents to strive to be at the top of his class. His hard work and dedication has allowed him to attend one of the most prestigious colleges with a full-ride, as he was one of the 1,000 individuals selected to be a Gates Millennium Scholar. He plans to study Computer Science at Georgetown University in order to give back to his community and hometown.

Bobbi R. Macdonald
City Neighbors Foundation, Executive Director

Bobbi serves as the Executive Director of City Neighbors Foundation in Baltimore, MD.  Bobbi is a founder and served as the first board president of City Neighbors Charter School. She was selected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as one of 16 leaders from across the country for the 2013-2014 Children and Family Fellowship. Bobbi serves on the Board of Directors of Hamilton Bank and is past Chair and founding member of the Maryland Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the Baltimore Education Coalition. Previously Bobbi taught early childhood education and kindergarten in two University child development laboratory schools, and served as literacy trainer for Head Start and the Children’s Literacy Initiative. Bobbi received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois in Human Development and Family Ecology, and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, in Curriculum and Instruction.

Tracy Foster
Randle Highlands Elementary School, Principal

Tracy Foster is a 21st century instructional leader who currently serves as the principal of Randle Highlands Elementary School, a leading full-on blended learning technology school. Under her leadership, Randle Highlands has been recognized for innovative and effective practices by leading education researchers, philanthropists and education advocacy organizations such as the CityBridge Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Scholastic Administrator, the League of Innovative Schools and the White House. Randle Highlands currently serves as an educational reform model for educators nationally, and has served as host to international education reformers from countries such as Brazil, Singapore, the United Kingdom, South Africa, the Netherlands, Australia and Pakistan. Recently Randle Highlands Elementary School was named #20 on Getting Smart's national Top 100 Schools Worth Visiting list, has been featured on the Rachel Ray Show and served as the inspiration behind national legislation aimed at funding innovative and effective educational technology initiatives in public schools.

Jennie Niles
Deputy Mayor for Education

Jennie Niles serves as Deputy Mayor for Education in Washington, DC. In this role, she is responsible for developing and implementing the Mayor's vision for academic excellence and creating a high quality education continuum from birth to 24. She is the founder and former leader of the acclaimed and award-winning E.L. Haynes Public Charter School. The school serves a diverse population of 1200 students in PS-12th grades. In 2011, E.L. Haynes was named the first winner of the CityBridge Foundation's Strong School Award from among all DC public schools and in 2008 was the first winner of Fight for Children's Quality School Initiative Award among DC public charter schools. Jennie is a graduate of New Leaders for New Schools and also taught science and directed service-learning programs at middle and high schools in California and Massachusetts. She holds a BA from Brown, a masters in public and private management from the Yale, and a masters of science in public administration from Trinity (DC). In 2010, she was named a Donaldson Fellow at the Yale School of Management. Jennie is a Fellow of the third class of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Coaches and Mentors

Vanessa Gonzalez
New Schools Venture Fund, Associate Partner

Vanessa Gonzalez is an Associate Partner in NewSchool’s Washington, DC office and focuses on diligence and management assistance for ventures in the DC Schools Fund. Prior to joining NewSchools, Vanessa was a Design and Implementation Consultant at Education Elements, where she worked closely with school leaders and teachers across the country to launch blended learning models. Vanessa began her career as a consultant at Bain and Company, where she advised clients in a variety of industries on strategic and operational issues. She also advised nonprofits as a consultant at The Bridgespan Group. Vanessa earned a BA in Economics and Spanish from Emory University, as well as an MBA and MA in Education from Stanford University.

Maura Marino
NewSchools Venture Fund, Managing Partner

Maura Marino is the Managing Partner of the DC Schools Fund in NewSchools Venture Fund’s Washington, DC office. As part of that role, Maura serves on the boards of Charter Board Partners, DC Prep, Ingenuity Prep, and EL Haynes Public Charter School. Prior to joining NewSchools, Maura was Program Director and Lead Teacher at East Palo Alto High School, a charter school in Northern California. During graduate school, Maura worked on the Network Growth Team at the KIPP Foundation, implementing their expansion strategy. Maura earned a BA in American Studies from Stanford University, an MA in teaching from Teachers’ College at Columbia University, and an MBA from Harvard University.

John Rice
DCPS, Director of Blended Learning

John Rice serves as the Blended Learning Director for DC Public Schools. In his role, he has worked with K-12 schools on whole-school redesigns as well as more targeted blended learning implementations (grade levels, specific content areas, etc.).

Tim Carnahan
LEAP Innovations, Next Gen Manager

Tim manages the second cohort of Breakthrough Schools Chicago. In this capacity he manages the design and execution of programming, participant support and evaluation for 15 schools engaged in whole-school redesign focused on personalized learning. Prior to joining LEAP, Tim served as the Managing Director of Program for New Leaders in Chicago. In that capacity he managed local program staff who lead three school leadership training programs for the biggest provider of new principal talent to Chicago Public Schools He was responsible for executing programs effectively, providing ongoing input and feedback on program design and implementation to national program teams, and supporting the Executive Director in district and partner engagement. Tim holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. 

Emily Hueber
E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, Assistant Principal

Emily Hueber is an Assistant Principal at E.L. Haynes Public Charter High School. Previously, Emily taught 9th and 10th grade math at E.L. Haiynes, As a member of the inaugural Breakthrough Schools grant process and a fellow in this year's Education Innovation Fellowship she is looking forward to the upcoming Summit. She previously taught at Columbia Heights Educational Campus in Washington, DC and MATCH Public Charter Middle School in Boston, MA. Emily earned her Master's Degree in Secondary Education from American University and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Delaware. Emily coaches the Girls Varsity Soccer team and was a Leading Educators Fellow and a member of the 2013-2014 New Leaders for New Schools Emerging Leaders Cohort.

Dwight Davis
Wheatley Education Campus, Assistant Principal

Dwight Davis, assistant principal at Wheatley Education Campus (WEC), is a eleven-year veteran teacher and proud product of the District of Columbia Public Schools. For over a decade, Davis has served WEC as a fifth-grade teacher, English & language arts coach, home visits coordinator and teacher lead. In 2014 Davis was selected as a City Bridge Education Innovation Fellow and in 2012 was selected as a member of the Teach Plus D.C. Policy Fellowship, at which time he had the opportunity to learn about issues relevant to the local community, city and state and worked to create solutions on the ground for high-need students.

Don Soifer
Lexington Institute, Executive Vice President

Don Soifer is Executive Vice President of the Lexington Institute, a nonpartisan think tank headquartered in Arlington, VA that he helped found in 1998. He directs the institute’s domestic policy research programs and manages its daily operations. Soifer also serves as Vice Chair of the District of Columbia’s Public Charter School Board, the citywide body responsible for the oversight of 115 campuses serving approximately 38,000 students, or 44 percent of the District’s students, and is widely regarded as one of the nation’s most effective charter school authorizers.

Jessica Proffitt
Two Rivers Public Charter School, 4-5th Grade Teacher

Jessica Proffitt has been an elementary school teacher in Washington, D.C. for 7 years. She has spent the last 6 at a project-based Expeditionary Learning School, Two Rivers Public Charter School. She is looking forward to helping teams flesh out ideas that are related to personalized, project based learning.

David Gesualdi
Walker-Jones Education Campus, Teacher

David Gesualdi serves as a teacher leader at The Walker-Jones Education campus. He has experience as part of a founding team and puts a strong emphasis on empathy, student choice and design thinking.

Andrew Pratt
CityBridge Program Manager, Education Innovation Fellowship

Andrew Plemmons Pratt leads the Education Innovation Fellowship at CityBridge Foundation. Previously, he served as the Deputy Director of School Partnerships at New Classrooms Innovation Partners, where he helped design support and implementation for the nationally recognized Teach To One: Math personalized learning program.Andrew taught seventh grade English as a Teach For America corps member in Prince George’s County, MD. Before moving into education, he was the founding Managing Editor of, the science and technology policy magazine published by the Center for American Progress. He holds a B.A. in English and American studies and an M.A. in English, both from the University of Virginia.

Tanesha Dixon
DCPS, Resident Principal

Tanesha Dixon, is a DC Public Schools Mary Jane Patterson Resident Principal. She is also an inaugural member of the Education Innovation Fellowship (EIF). As an EIF, Tanesha has spent a considerable amount of time exploring, designing and implementing innovations in blended and personalized learning in her classroom and leading a Next Generation Learning Challenge Breakthrough Schools DC team. As a result, Tanesha’s work has been highlighted in several national publications and outlets including the American Enterprise Institute Full Report on Blended Learning in DC, the Learning First Alliance, BlendMyLearning, Digital Promise and the Discovery Education’s Future@Now Live Digital Classroom in which she hosted the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Carmen Rioux-Bailey
George Mason University and DC International School, Instructional Faculty/Founder and Senior Advisor

Carmen Rioux-Bailey is a professor of Education at George Mason University. She is looking forward to helping teams who are exploring personalized learning, 1:1 technology applications, differentiating learning, and language immersion. Carmen is a founder of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School (PreK-5th grade) and DC International School.

Lauren Castillo
DCPS, Literacy Coach

Lauren Castillo is an instructional coach for elementary literacy at Truesdell Education Campus. She began her education career in DC Public Schools in 2007 as a Teach For America corps member and has since served in many capacities as a teacher-leader at her school. Most recently, she was a member of the third cohort of the Education Innovation Fellowship. Lauren is an alumnus of Emory & Henry College where she majored in Art and Spanish language and has a master’s degree in education from George Mason University.

Jean-Claude Brizard
Cross & Joftus LLC, Partner and Vice President

Jean-Claude Brizard is Partner and Vice-President at Cross & Joftus. He is the former Chief Executive of Chicago Public Schools. Prior to his appointment in Chicago, he was Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester, NY School District. Jean-Claude's experience also includes a 21-year career as an educator and administrator with the NYC Department of Education. He served as a Regional Superintendent, supervising more than 100 schools in the Borough of Brooklyn and he also served as the system's Executive Director for secondary schools. Jean-Claude is a Fellow of the Broad Center, a Fellow of the Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellowship, and a member of the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network.

Dalia Hochman
Next Generation Learning Challenges, Director of K-12 Model Development and Adoption

Dalia Hochman serves as the Director of K-12 Model Development at Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC). In this role, she supports national and regional school teams who are designing new, breakthrough school models. Before joining NGLC, Dalia worked in school turnaround at Mass Insight Education and the Los Angeles Unified School District. She began her career as a high school teacher and small school co-founder in New York City.

Scott Milam
Afton Partners, Managing Director

Scott Milam has spent his career providing practical financial and operating advisory services to organizations in the public and private sector. Most recently, he has worked with several urban school districts to transform their financial and operational processes and structure, and has provided technical assistance for numerous blended learning schools on their long-term financial plans. Before co-founding Afton Partners in 2011, Scott worked at Alvarez & Marsal, MassPort and Arthur Andersen.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend EDU D.C.: Next Gen Schools team is grateful for the support of local community partners without whom this event would not be possible.
Learn how to become a sponsor here.


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Organizing Team

Techstars Startup Weekend Washington, D.C. is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Margaret
  • Elena
    Di Rosa
  • Arielle
  • Andrew


Caroline Hill
Founder, DC Equity Lab

A former high school principal at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, Caroline will MC our weekend, ensuring we stay on time and have a ton of fun!

Event Staff

John Baldo
Product Manager

John is the program manager of Startup Weekend Education where he develops resources and programs to help anyone engage in entrepreneurship to solve problems in education. He is a software engineer by trade and recently worked on several K-12 edtech products at Amplify. He briefly worked as a Pre-Algebra and Geometry Teacher. His current side hustle is building community in hometown of Oakland.

Raphael Gang
4.0 Schools, Director of Outreach and Communications

Hassan Hassan
4.0 Schools, Manager of Idea Development

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