4.0 Schools’ Education Pitch Showcases Eight Extraordinary Startups

4.0 Schools is a community of passionate people building the future of school. The nonprofit offers a platform for teachers, technologists and entrepreneurs to create bold solutions and ventures– often tech-related– for the real problems in schools.

The organization promotes entrepreneurial ventures in the education field. From platforms to use in schools to entirely new schools altogether, 4.0’s support is responsible for making New Orleans the first truly entrepreneurial education ecosystem.

4.0 Schools CEO Matt Candler address the Education Pitch crowd at the 7th Annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

4.0 Schools CEO Matt Candler address the Education Pitch crowd at the 7th Annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

“I have not found any places for innovation in our country,” 4.0 Schools’ CEO Matt Candler explained the need for innovation in education in his opening remarks.

Monday (March 23) during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), 4.0 hosted the annual Education Pitch that brings together a set of passionate entrepreneurs who are building the future of school, one piece at a time.

Eight startups presented in front of the panel of judges that included: Tanya Jones, Anchor Collaborative Manager, Office of the Mayor; Ashley Aleman, K-12 Industry Liaison, GNO, Inc.; Allen Square, Chief Technology Officer, PosiGen; and Mike Eckert, Chairman, NO/LA Angel Network.

Startups were competing with a $25,000 total investment from the evening.

Operation Spark was awarded $10,000. “We teach kids to code,” explains Operation Spark founder John Fraboni. Using the same management system that Harvard uses, Operation Spark, is a fast way for youth in New Orleans to learn how to code and be prepared for jobs as software engineers in the future.

Operation Spark hopes to be in every single school in New Orleans, promoting a computer science curriculum while also facilitating coding boot camps for students on the side. In a city that is starving for software engineers, the startup wants to help every school in New Orleans address the issue of lack of training.

Brothers Empowered to teach got the entirety of its ask, taking home $15,000. Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T) is an organization with a mission to close the achievement gap for at-risk students by inspiring and incentivizing men of color to choose education as a career starting in New Orleans. The startups hopes to close the achievement gap for school-age at-risk children by providing in-class role models.

Operation Spark was also awarded an additional $2,500 from the Audience Favorite vote, along with  unCommon Construction, which was also awarded $2,500.

More about the other pitch participants is below:

Rooted School

Rooted School believes there is a disconnect between what is being taught in schools and the jobs of the future. The startup is an independent charter management organization that plans to open their own 9-12 school in Fall 2016 if the pilot program goes well.

The Rooted program takes on a three branch approach–practice, pathways, and purpose–to generate a consistent local talent pipeline that will address workforce needs. Rooted School’ students will be self-directed learners who will discover their careers through community engagement. “We have the potential to shape public education nationally,” concludes founder Jonathan Johnson.

Bridge the Gap

Bridge the Gap is an after school program targeting high achieving low income students to help them get into top tier universities. Through a combination of mentorship and providing academic enriching opportunity, the startup works in schools to support students as young as 9th grade.

The 1881 Research Institute

Eight weeks away from launching, The 1881 Research Institute is promoting its collegiate high school targeting african americans, which will provide a pathway to STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Founder Bahiy Watson says the goals are for students to have sophomore level mastery in a collegiate engineering discipline, engage in hands-on projects, to have a mindset that they are obligated to their community, and Create pathways to jobs and higher education-focused STEM jobs.


IDIYA is a new makerspace, workshop and design studio in New Orleans that provides members with the education, tools, and creative community to foster innovation. The IDIYA team wants to help the community turn ideas into reality. Their vision is to make manufacturing available for everyone with the climate controlled space that houses a variety of machinery and tools for members to use to get their product on the market faster.

Mini Art Center

The Mini Art Center is a studio and gallery for children and their families to have fun making art together. In addition to the various pop-up events and summer camp hosted by Mini Art Center, the organization hopes to open a fully-functional space for youth ages 3-14. The STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) organization wants to open as many future career paths as possible.

unCommon Construction

unCommon Construction is a values-based construction- and character-skills development program. The nonprofit builds character by building houses, providing real jobs and real earnings for their apprentices. The primary goal is to transition students from education to employment through a semester-based program that matches with schooling.

This coverage is brought to you by Peer Partners Interactive and LookFar.

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