Village Capital Launches Venture Development Program to Bridge the Skills Gap Between Education and Employment

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Village Capital Launches Venture Development Program to Bridge the Skills Gap Between Education and Employment

13 startups from 8 states selected to participate; two ventures will secure US $150,000 total in funding through peer review
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Thursday, June 16, 2016 - 5:00pm

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Washington, DC – Today Village Capital in collaboration with AT&T, as part of AT&T Aspire, announced the full cohort of entrepreneurs participating in Village Capital’s “Education: US 2016,” a venture development program to support early-stage entrepreneurs bridging the skills gap between education and employment. The full cohort is listed below.

Village Capital’s flagship program brings together entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and stakeholders so they can solve major problems.  Village Capital has committed US $150,000 in investments funds to the two companies ranked highest by their peers at the end of the program (US $75,000 each), in a unique process called peer-selected investment.

Recent data indicates that by 2020, 65% of all jobs in the US will require at least an Associate’s degree or some amount of post-secondary school training or certification. However, only 1 in 4 students are academically prepared for college when they graduate from high school, and less than half of recent graduates are workforce ready. Many students lack the skills and training necessary for securing jobs in careers with progressively higher wages and incomes.

“Education is the passport to a high-paying job, but too many students lack the academic resources and opportunities to position them for success,” said Nasir Qadree, Head of Education at Village Capital. “The 12 entrepreneurs in our Education US 2016 cohort represent the top early-stage ventures today tackling academic success and career-readiness. We’re excited to connect them with the mentors and resources they need to scale their ideas.”

The Education: US 2016 program will support entrepreneurs addressing these critical issues through technology, and will provide the entrepreneurs with business development training to develop their financials, pitch, sales pipeline, and other aspects. On June 23rd, the entrepreneurs will join with education, business leaders and influencers from the Chicago education ecosystem for a launch event at Coalition Impact. The group will also present to potential partners and customers at a public event this July in Baltimore, and will pitch to investors at the program’s Venture Forum in September back in Chicago.

“We need to bridge the skills gap and build a diverse talent pipeline for the jobs of today and the future. These entrepreneurs are doing innovative work to help students develop the skills they need to be successful in the workplace, and I’m excited to see what they accomplish in this program,” said Anne Wintroub, Director of Social Innovation at AT&T.

The companies will receive training on business model development, customer hypothesis testing, financial modeling, partnership and customer development, and investor engagement. Entrepreneurs will also have one-on-one time with mentors, industry experts, investors, top local business leaders, and potential customers.

Ventures that went through past Village Capital programs created an average of 30 jobs in the three months following the program and increased their revenue growth by 4.5 times. 

The 12 startup firms selected to join the three-month program are:

  • Centric Learning HERO is a project-based student centric learning approach that builds on strengths - a uniquely effective curriculum and teaching method.
  • College Ease is a Unique engagement and marketing platform that connects high school students worldwide with colleges starting freshman year of high school.
  • Comprendio is a cognitive mapping, accountability for learner thinking, automated feedback, and unique analytics platform to accelerate understanding.
  • Couragion inspire underserved & underrepresented youth to pursue competencies & careers in science, technology, engineering & math.
  • Education Modified delivers cutting-edge, research-based strategies and analytics for every learning need in today’s classrooms.
  • LaborX helps high need talent connect to living wage jobs.
  • Nepris virtually invites industry professionals into the classroom to bring real world relevance to curriculum topics, to help evaluate student projects and to engage and inspire students in STEAM!
  • Pairin is an essential personal and professional skills management system transforming how we work, relate and educate.
  • Paragon One is the #1 American career education platform powered by U.S. professionals-turned-career coaches
  • Skill Scout changes how companies attract and hire talent through video job descriptions and hands on interviews
  • Story2 makes college application writing easier through personal stories
  • Yenko sells financial retention software to colleges that lose tuition revenue when students drop out as a result of losing financial aid.

The accelerator will see the 12 startups participate in three workshops to be held in Chicago & Baltimore on June 21-24, July 26-29 & September 6-9.  The two startups to win funding will be announced in September. For more information, contact


Village Capital sources, trains and invests in seed-stage entrepreneurs with business solutions to major global problems. Village Capital recruits entrepreneurs solving specific problems in agriculture, energy, education, financial inclusion, and health, and then puts the power of investment in the hands of the entrepreneurs, who award the prize investments to the two ventures ranked highest by their peers at the end of every program. The organization supports early-stage ventures through a 501c3 nonprofit operating training programs for founders, investors, and communities, as well as through an affiliated, for-profit investment fund providing early-stage capital to top-ranked ventures of each program. To learn more, visit


AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. AT&T Aspire is AT&T’s signature philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism, and mentoring. Through Aspire, we’ve passed the $250 million mark on our plan to invest $350 million in education from 2008-2017. To learn more visit


Keywords: Philanthropy | AT&T | Anne Wintroub | Careers | Chicago | Education | Village Capital | Workshops | baltimore | degrees | diversity

CAMPAIGN: AT&T: Possibilities