How an Innovative Education Hub is Changing the Future of School

Early-stage education startup incubator 4.0 Schools was launched five years ago and has not stopped growing since. Founder and CEO Matt Candler says it has been amazing to maintain their superpower of building community while getting still getting bigger and bigger.

Over the last year, 4.0 Schools has opened an innovation lab in New York City, which now houses Launch, their program that gives education startups the boost they need. They hosted a showcase event in the new office on January 14 where the six teams from a recent startup cohort and other NYC area alumni of the organization shared what they were up to.

4.0 Schools hosts Launch, a three-month incubator for early stage education entrepreneurs with promising ideas for the future of school.

4.0 Schools hosts Launch, a three-month incubator for early stage education entrepreneurs with promising ideas for the future of school.

One of the biggest accomplishments of 2015 was that the 4.0 Schools team helped local entrepreneurs in four different cities start their own version of the organization.

Candler shares the details:

  • Keaton Wadzinski is the Founder of ReinventED Lab in Charlottesville, Virginia. ReinventED Lab is uniting a community of creative problem-solvers in education & equipping community members with the resources, network, and process to bring bold ideas to life. Keaton is a third year student at the University of Virginia, majoring in Youth and Social Innovation and minoring in Social Entrepreneurship.
  • Caroline Hill is the founder of DC Equity Lab. For the past 12 years, she has worked in D.C. public and charter schools as a teacher, mentor, coach, and leader. She aspires to create learning environments that provide equal opportunities to all students. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from UVA and a Master of Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
  • Mickey Millsap is the Founder of k12 Lean Labs in Birmingham, Alabama. k12 Lean Labs is an incubator and accelerator program enabling the education community to turn big ideas into reality to positively impact Birmingham students. Previously, Mickey spent two years as a high school teacher, co-founded uShip (a venture-backed technology startup), and earned an MBA from UT Austin.
  • John Raymond is CEO of ImpactLab, a nonprofit EDU innovation incubator in Austin, Texas. ImpactLab identifies mission-driven educators with powerful visions for improving education and works tirelessly to support them. A life-long educator and entrepreneur, John taught HS history for six years and has founded several edtech ventures including PowerIT, TIELab and The New Curriculum.

In 2015 alone, 4.0 Schools engaged 145 entrepreneurs. Beyond generally growing the team and the number of entrepreneurs they help each year, 4.0 has also taken on the task of shaping the future of school.

Back in November, Candler visited the White House and issued a challenge to individuals and innovators everywhere. He revealed the Tiny Schools toolkit, a program designed to empower 1,000 communities across the country to create their own small-scale prototypes on next generation schools.

Tiny Schools is how they apply the lean method of testing new types of schools and learning spaces. The goal of the Tiny Schools Project is to reduce the risk of creating new schools by testing promising concepts at a very small scale in intimate environments where willing families and students provide high-frequency feedback to school leaders before they build a full scale school.

The idea for the Tiny Schools Project came from Candler watching entrepreneur Brian Bordainick build Dinner Lab, a nomadic dining experience that invites members to try new recipes from rotating chefs and give feedback. “Think about how chefs might use pop-up meals then food trucks to test new restaurant ideas before spending all the cash on an actual space,” explains Candler.

I was really inspired by Brian’s commitment to chefs who didn’t have a good way to share their best food with people. I know too many educators who feel the same way; Tiny’s a way to let more people have a shot at making better schools by making the process itself more iterative, more human,” Candler said.

Candler says we still live in a world where most people thinking that making school better is something teachers do. Moving forward, he wants more people to believe they can participate.

“Kim Gibson, founder of NOLA Micro Schools, another member of the Tiny Schools Project, talks about the walls of her school as porous. I love that,” shared Candler. “Kids need to feel like school can actually connect them to, equip them for, the world. That takes educators reaching out, and people outside sharing what they’re building and how they’re attacking problems they want kids to attack, too.”

To find out more about 4.0 Schools, visit


This 2015 Silicon Bayou 100 was made possible by sponsors 365 Connect, a leading provider of award-winning marketing, leasing and resident technology platforms for the multifamily housing industry, and LookFar, a software development studio. Beer from our beverage sponsor, the startup brewery Cajun Fire, will also be provided. 365 Connect Logo Lookfar Logo

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