November 6, 2017 – Illiteracy is foundational to nearly all the global challenges we face today as an international community. Yet, literacy rates have not improved in over 15 years, costing the world $1.19 trillion a year and leaving over 750 million people worldwide unable to read this sentence.
Project Literacy Lab, a partnership between Pearson and Unreasonable Group, part of the broader Project Literacy campaign, is bringing a new group of problem solvers to the table: entrepreneurs. This first of its kind, international accelerator focuses on scaling up ventures that are positioned to help close the global literacy gap by 2030.
In July 2016, the inaugural Project Literacy Lab brought together 16 ventures from across 5 continents for a two-week accelerator outside of San Francisco, California. Over the course of this program, the entrepreneurs were matched with the resources, mentorship, access to financing, and a global network of support to help them scale more rapidly across multiple regions and countries. To date, the first cohort of companies operates in over 50 countries, has collectively raised over $70M in financing, and has reached over 10M people around the world. Within just one year after the program, the cohort’s total revenue has increased by over 80% and total funding has increased by approximately 185%.
Now, in November 2017, the second Project Literacy Lab accelerator will officially launch with a new group of 13 companies at a venue near New York City. The participating mentors include Aleem Walji, CEO of the Aga Khan Foundation and former Chief Innovation Officer at The World Bank, and Tom Chi, founding team member of Google X and expert in rapid prototyping.
Each venture in the 2017 cohort is tackling one of the foundational issues that underpins the problem of illiteracy worldwide. For example:
- BeeLine Reader makes reading on-screen more efficient and accessible for readers at all levels – especially for those with dyslexia, ADD, and vision problems. Instead of displaying text in monochrome, BeeLine Reader uses a subtle color gradient that draws the reader’s eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. This technique can dramatically improve reading fluency and reading comprehension. To date, BeeLine Reader has been used to read over 250 million pages worldwide.
- Cell-Ed brings essential literacy, language and job skills to adults who need it most. They deliver skills training in 3-minute lessons on any mobile phone where adult learners simply call, text or click to access a world of learning. To date, more than 10,000 Cell-Ed users have logged over 1,000,000 minutes of learning in reading and numeracy skills, vocational ESL, and more.
- Kodable makes computer science education accessible to every child in the world, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic background. They develop computer science curriculum for elementary schools, with a grab-and-go lesson plan option for teachers, and fun engaging labs for students. To date, Kodable is used by over 50% of elementary schools in the United States and in over 200 countries around the world.
Pearson and Unreasonable Group share the belief that rapid growth, for-profit companies have the potential to drive solutions into the hands of millions who remain illiterate today. This is where Project Literacy Lab comes into focus: connecting brilliant innovators and entrepreneurs with what they need to achieve greater scale faster.
“Project Literacy Lab aims to spark a conversation around how business investors and entrepreneurs can put a positive dent on history,” says Daniel Epstein, founder and CEO of Unreasonable Group. “Many of these entrepreneurs are already measurably closing the global literacy gap with technologies we didn’t know existed – profitably. Unlike most accelerator programs, we are choosing to align with solutions that have already proven to be effective in market. Now, we’re helping these entrepreneurs scale their ventures across countries and continents to impact hundreds of millions of lives.”
“Ensuring universal literacy means bringing new problem solvers to the table,” said Kate James, Chief Corporate Affairs and Global Marketing Officer for Pearson and Chief Spokesperson for Project Literacy. “We need everyone to work together to tackle this global crisis. With their innovative and scalable solutions, these entrepreneurs are key to how we help reach the low-income communities where illiteracy is most severe.”
For more information, please visit: www.projectliteracy.com/lab/
Project Literacy Lab Ventures
BeeLine Reader makes reading on-screen more efficient and accessible for readers at all levels – especially for those with dyslexia, ADD, and vision problems. To date, BeeLine Reader has been used to read over 250 million pages worldwide.
Cell-Ed delivers essential skills training in 3-minute lessons on any mobile phone where adult learners simply call, text or click to access a world of learning. To date, more than 10,000 Cell-Ed users have logged over 1,000,000 minutes of learning.
Emote provides a school-wide communication platform that delivers real-time insights used to predict, support and evaluate student social-emotional outcomes and behavioral escalation.
EQtainment designs and develops children's toys and games for emotional intelligence, providing parents and educators fun tools to help children develop self-awareness, impulse control, manners, problem solving, empathy, responsibility, grit, and more.
KickUp partners with K-12 organizations to help professional development teams improve teacher support and demonstrate impact through meaningful analytics.
Kodable develops computer science curriculum for elementary schools, with a grab-and-go lesson plan option for teachers, and fun engaging labs for students. Kodable is active in 1 in 4 schools across the US using the #1 programming curriculum for K-5.
Learning Games Studios develops award-winning learning games and assessment tools that benefit learners at every age, helping people all around the world to obtain more education and employment opportunities.
Letrus utilizes AI and education technology to solve the world’s literacy gap, connecting linguistic, pedagogical and digital intelligences for a more effective way of teaching.
Literator provides a comprehensive platform that turns data into actionable insights, so teachers and administrators can provide students with a personalized literacy education. To date, Literator has served over 20,000 students in 17 countries.
RocketLit bridges the gap between curricular expectations and reality through education that’s tailored and adapted to each student's independent reading level.
SPEAK MODalities creates a software that helps children with autism and developmental disabilities learn to speak and communicate, empowering them to live more fulfilling lives.
Stones2Milestones specializes in teaching reading and thinking skills for children aged 3-9 years old, training teachers across India so they can help ‘create a nation of 10 million readers by 2022.’
WizeNoze created the world’s largest content library of curated public information all tagged by reading level, making the internet more accessible for children, teenagers, people with lower literacy skills, and second language learners.
Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. Their mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning. Pearson believes that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives. For more, please visit http://www.pearson.com.
Project Literacy is global movement to make significant and sustainable advances in the fight against illiteracy so that all people – regardless of geography, language, race, class, or gender – have the opportunity to fulfill their potential through the power of words. Founded and convened by Pearson, Project Literacy brings together a diverse and global cross-section of people and organizations to help unlock the potential of individuals, families and communities everywhere to make significant and sustainable advances in literacy over the next five years so that by 2030, no child will be born at risk of poor literacy.
Unreasonable’s mission is to drive resources to and breakdown barriers for entrepreneurs solving the world’s most pressing global challenges (i.e. ensuring renewable energy reaches the 1.3 billion people currently without electricity, reimagining the future of healthcare, or addressing the global unemployment crisis). Through running worldwide accelerator programs, a globally oriented private equity fund, an extensive network of over 300 serial business leaders as mentors, and advanced storytelling and media activities, Unreasonable is designed to exclusively support entrepreneurs positioned to solve society's toughest problems. For more, please http://www.unreasonablegroup.com.
Brittany Lane, Director of Media, Unreasonable Group
+1 (832) 867-2424, firstname.lastname@example.org