Top-notch Florida education entrepreneurs make first cut for $1 million national award

SailFuture in St. Petersburg, Florida, a unique, seafaring educational innovation that helps troubled teens chart new courses for their lives, is a quarterfinalist for a $1 million award powered by the Center for Educational Reform.

Five Florida education providers are among 64 quarterfinalists from 33 states and the District of Columbia who are in the running for a prestigious $1million award for educational excellence.

SailFuture in St. Petersburg, RCMA Immokalee Community Academy, Hope Ranch Learning Academy in Hudson, Colossal Academy in Davie, and Kind Academy in Coral Springs all are vying for the prize that recognizes those providers who strive to offer education that meets the four adjectives whose first letters spell the acronym for the award: Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding, and Permissionless.

(reimaginED profiled three of the quarterfinalists here, here, and here.)

Yass Prize founder Janine Yass said it was her goal this year to find the best innovators in education in the country.

“Their ideas and enthusiasm are pushing the status quo for children who deserve access to awe-inspiring education,” Yass said.

She and her husband, Jeff, launched the prize, which is powered by the Center for Education Reform, to find and advance the work of education providers who continued to serve children despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Center founder Jeanne Allen, who also serves as director of the Yass Foundation for Education, said she looks forward to getting to know the new quarterfinalists, who deserve recognition for their efforts to transform education.

“If we could just clone them and the thousands more who applied, we could more than make up the deficiencies brought on by years of mediocrity and COVID learning that have wrought havoc on our kids,” Allen said. “This is a start.”

Each of the 64 finalists are guaranteed a STOP award of $100,000. They now move into the next round, where 32 providers will be selected and will have a chance to receive a $200,000 award and take part in a “hybrid accelerator program” that will pair them with technology leaders and investors who could help them expand their ideas and methods.

At the end of the “accelerator process,” seven finalists will be named, one of whom will win the $1 million prize. Each of the other finalists will receive a $250,000 award.

Michael Moe, CER director and founder of Global Silicon Valley, a growth investment platform in California who served as an early adviser to the initiative, cited education entrepreneurs as a critical piece of the country’s continued economic strength and growth.

“The work that all of these quarterfinalists are accomplishing to educate the future generations is truly transformative,” Moe said.

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BY reimaginED staff