The University of Virginia is launching an accelerator program based out of offices in D.C. and Charlottesville, the school announced last week.
The program is kicking off with $11 million in initial funding from the Curry School of Education Foundation (mostly derived from alumni donations) and a beginning balance from USA Funds, a nonprofit that guarantees student loans.
The Jefferson Education Accelerator will look for six to eight companies each year to participate in the program. In exchange for, according to the release, “a small portion of their equity,” companies will have the opportunity to:
- Run supervised pilots in the accelerator’s network of K-12, college and university schools
- Pursue academic efficacy research
- Develop their product, design data privacy policies and other features of their business
- Match with venture firms or large education companies
Potential applicants should be financially mature (at least $1 million in annual revenue), sensitive to student data privacy concerns, have ambitions to impact the field of education, be ready to test out their products and scale nationwide.
The accelerator is technically a separate corporate entity, and is not funded by the University of Virginia. It will also act as a regular VC firm through its investment arm, the Jefferson Education Fund.
“The goal of the Accelerator is not to generate profits but rather to become permanently self-sustaining,” said CEO Bart Epstein, the former senior vice president of Tutor.com, in an email. “Returns that we generate will go to those who are funding our operations — including the non-profit Curry School Foundation.”
Brien Walton, the founding CEO of Education Design Studio, Inc., an edtech incubator run in partnership with the Penn Graduate School of Education, will serve as chief investment officer.
Though the accelerator will have brick-and-mortar offices in Charlottesville and D.C., it is a nonresidential program open to companies nationwide.
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