Idea Contest

Idea Contest

For Teach For America Alumni and Corps Member Ideas
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What is the Idea Contest?

This contest is organized and run by a group of Teach For America alumni and EdTech evangelists, several of whom also happen to be TFA staff members. We've partnered with Startup Weekend and Kno Inc. to organize a Startup Weekend Education (EDU) event in the Bay Area from Feb. 24 - 26, 2012. (This event is not run or produced by Teach For America.) More on Startup Weekend EDU below...

This contest gives you the opportunity to submit an idea (no business plan, team, or even logo is needed) and one to three winners will be picked to join us as full participants in the Bay Area event.  As a winner, we'll cover your flight and accommodations (generously supported by UserVoice and Startup Weekend).  As a participant, the benefits are many, detailed below...

IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE WITH YOUR SUBMISSION, email and we'll HELP you. Or send your video and/or 500 word doc to that email address (use sendspace if your video is too big).


Who's eligible?

Teach For America alums and corps members (*). You must be able to attend the full weekend  from Friday early evening to Sunday evening.

*If you are already located in the Bay Area, we strongly encourage you to register and attend once registrations officially opens.  This contest is designed to bring in ideas and participats from further away. (Event registration will open around mid-January; email us at and we'll alert you when registration opens.)


How do you apply?

Simply submit your idea following the instructions provided here by the DEADLINE at 11:59 pm PT January 19th. We'll contact you on a rolling basis if we have questions or need clarification.

The winner(s) will be selected and notified on January 27.



  • Impact
    • Does the idea address a core issue for students/educators/schools?
    • Does the idea directly support student achievement?
    • How widely could this idea be applied?
  • Innovation
    • Does the idea capitalize on existing and emerging technology?
    • Is the idea different than existing EdTech supports?
  • Usability
    • Is the idea applicable to realistic teaching situations?
    • Is the idea usable in the classroom or in schools by educators and students?
  • Scalability
    • Is the idea scalable to support a diverse range of classrooms/schools/student populations?
  • Consideration for High-Need Areas
    • Is the idea applicable to high-need areas:  Special Education, STEM, College Readiness/Prep, Bilingual/ELL/ESL, Early Childhood (ECE)?
    • Are you located in a rural area (e.g., RGV, Delta, Appalachia) or somewhere that Startup Weekend may not come for a long time?





Startup Weekend is an innovative, non-profit, community-building event that brings together entrepreneurs of all backgrounds including software developers, marketers, designers, educators and other enthusiasts to start companies (or launch ideas) in just 54 hours. The participants that attend have 60 seconds to make a pitch (optional), the pitches are whittled down to the top ideas, and then teams form around the ideas to come out with several developed companies or projects. Finally, the weekend culminates with demonstrations in front of an audience of judges and potential investors.

Innovation + Entrepreneurs + Education:
Startup Weekend recently launched an EDU vertical focusing on education.  The Gates Foundation has partnered with Startup Weekend to help support the EDU vertical and grow it internationally. Google has also recently partnered with Startup Weekend to help jumpstart developer skills.

From a past EDU attendee:
“Startup Weekend EDU is an environment full of ideas sparking and sense of possibility…and the desire to roll up sleeves and get to work solving problems. It’s also super fun and left me invigorated to return to my desk to really make things happen. What does 54 hours entail? 1) Go, 2) Pitch your idea in 60 seconds or less (nail it OR listen for ideas that spark your interest or make you nod “yes I totally get it and and want to make it happen”), 3) Create a team, 4) Build (including ideation, mentoring, pivoting, designing, prototyping, even coding), 5) Pitch (the real one!), 6) Come away exhausted and exhilarated with potential to continue working on your idea with the team, and 10) Make an impact? …We/You have ideas that can make that impact when given a chance to grow in the right time and space.”

Forbes on the EDU vertical and Gates backing

An account of a Startup Weekend EDU


Education in the U.S. may be one of the human rights issues of our time. All kids deserve access to an excellent education. Education as an entrepreneurial space has recently gained much traction and interest, including interest and backing from the venture and incubator community (Business Week Article), but there’s still much work to be done with not enough bright spots of success. We believe that if we bring you – our educators, developers, designers, business people – together and help facilitate your collaboration in new and innovative ways, we can help contribute to the growing movement to end educational inequity.

Education/professional development:
Startup Weekends are all about learning through the act of creating.  Don’t just listen to theory - build your own strategy and test it as you go.

Build your network:
This isn’t just a happy-hour. Startup Weekend attracts your community’s best makers and do-ers. By spending a weekend working to build scalable companies that solve real-world problems, you will build long-lasting relationships and possibly walk away with a job or even an investor.

Co-founder dating:
We all know it’s not just about the idea – it’s about the team. Startup Weekend is hands-down the best way to to find someone you can actually launch a startup with.

Learn a new skill:
Step outside of your comfort zone. With a whole weekend dedicated to letting your creative juices flow, Startup Weekends are prefect opportunities to work on a new platform, learn a new programming language, or just try something different.

Actually launch a business:
Over 36% of Startup Weekend startups are still going strong after 3 months.  Roughly 80% of participants plan on continuing working with their team or startup after the weekend.

Get face time with thought leaders:
Local tech and startup leaders participate in Startup Weekends as mentors and judges. Get some one-on-one time with the movers and shakers in your community.

We cover what you need for the weekend (and it can pay off for long after):
Your ticket covers seven meals, snacks, access to exclusive resources, possible sponsor swag, all the coffee you can drink, and more.

Join a global community:
Join over 30,000 Startup Weekend alumni, all on a mission to change the world.


Startup Weekend attendees’ backgrounds are roughly 50% technical (developers, coders, designers) and 50% business (marketing, finance, law).  Twenty-nine percent of Startup Weekend participants attend an event to network, 20% attend to develop/build a product, and 13% attend to learn how to create a new venture.  Roughly 80% of attendees plan on continuing to work on their startup after the weekend. 



  • Where: Bay Area - Santa Clara at Kno Inc. offices
  • Date: Feb 24-26, 2012
  • Times: Friday early evening through Sunday night
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