Jarvus is growing up.
Founded by a pair of college dropouts who were 22 and 23 at the time, the three-year-old Northern Liberties web dev firm, which spun out of hacker space Devnuts, is spinning out Slate, its open source learning management platform.
Jarvus launched Slate at Center City’s Science Leadership Academy in late 2011, but now, with three dozen schools across the country waiting to implement the platform, Slate needs a team — and funding — of its own, its founders said.
Slate, a member of GoodCompany Group‘s summer social enterprise accelerator, offers a platform that centralizes a school’s technology needs, like email, Google Docs and programs like Blackboard and PowerSchool. That way, teachers and students don’t need to log in to a dozen different programs and data can be shared between all the programs seamlessly. It’s free for schools to use, though you can pay Slate to host the platform for you.
The Slate team consists of two staffers from Jarvus’s team of 13, as well as Christian Kunkel, the founder of student entrepreneurship program Startup Corps, who will be the company’s CEO. Cofounders John Fazio and Chris Alfano will hold leadership positions in both Jarvus and Slate, Fazio said.
The team is actively seeking funding, though Fazio said Slate is not “stuck on the capital front.”
But demand is high, Fazio said, and Slate needs more staffers to keep up. The team has heard interest from schools in Florida, California and Minnesota, Fazio said.
Slate will soon be used in three schools in Philly: Science Leadership Academy, which is about to enter its fourth year of using the tool and will also use it as the school’s new campus in Overbrook, and Independence Charter School, which began using it this past spring with STEM program Knick Knack Learning and the Navy Yard’s Sustainability Workshop/Workshop School, which will begin using the tool this fall.
But, Kunkel said, Slate will focus mainly on schools outside of Philadelphia because its early adopters will be schools that are heavy on the edtech side of things, and “there just aren’t enough of those schools in Philly.”
Given the state of the Philadelphia School District with its $304 million budget deficit, how does Slate see itself as part of the Philadelphia education ecosystem?
“There’s very little we can do to change the budget,” Fazio said.
What Slate can do, he said, is make sure that the money the School District spends on technology is spent efficiently. He hopes the company can approach the School District a few years down the line.
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