SETDA announces new partnerships with emerging edtech startups

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Whether you’re a principal looking for grants to underwrite a burgeoning program, an IT manager looking for new ways to manage and present data, or a teacher looking for something new for students to read and actually enjoy, the right connection with a young edtech company could help.

With that in mind, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is back with a program that aims to make those kinds of connections. The nonprofit’s has selected a new cohort of startups as its Emerging Private Sector Partners that offer promising solutions for the education sector.

Chosen each year by SETDA through a competitive process, winners are given ample opportunities to be seen and heard by the state and national digital learning community. This year, 11 companies were selected.

For administrators and teachers looking for ways to improve their leadership and communications skills and advance their professional development, SETDA partnered with Leaderally.

“Our vision is that we want to provide leadership development for the world’s most important leaders,” said Liz Szporn, co-founder of the company, in an interview. Those, she said, are leaders in the education community. “We understand educators don’t have time to waste, there’s not enough money to go around … Having personalized online microdoses of skills development will help them [get] new skills more effectively and ultimately lead to better classroom outcomes.”

For her company, being selected as a SETDA partner is about exposure. “We are a scrappy little startup, looking for opportunities to get a bigger microphone. We’re trying to scream as loud as we can but it’s a big, noisy world,” Szporn said. “We’re looking to make friends — to meet all the like-minded education leadership people.”

Through its Emerging Partners Program, SETDA aims to provide the selected edtech startups with exactly what Szporn is looking for: opportunities and exposure.

“This collaboration does more than just spotlight new technologies for our membership,” SETDA Executive Director Tracy Weeks said in a statement. “It opens the door to important relationships and conversations while providing valuable opportunities for these growing companies to get in front of nearly all 50 states at the same time.”

Another company, RFPMatch.com, has two portals. Grants Alert, a free service for educators, tracks everything related to grants and fundraising for schools, while RFP Match on Demand is a just-in-time virtual assistant for businesses that sell to schools and school districts.

“I’ve been doing this for 45 years now” — tracking funding and fundraising opportunities for schools and school systems — Paula Love, founder of RFPMatch.com, told EdScoop. “I’ve never seen such a power shift; instead of the federal level, [purchasing power] now resides at the state level. So we’ve looked at funding from the state perspective.”

Love said becoming a SETDA Emerging Partner “is a premier opportunity for us.” The program will give her small company visibility with both educators nationwide and education companies trying to find opportunities in states with widely disparate goals and available resources.

Schools that are looking for ways to introduce computational skills to children in lower grades may be taken by Wonder Workshop, with its robots Dash, Dot and Cue, its coding resources to give kids the ability to program the robots, and its curricula for teachers looking to integrate computational skills into the classroom.

“One of the things we’re focused on right now, [schools] can deploy all kinds of technologies into the classroom,” said Jeff Mao, Wonder Workshop’s senior strategic education outreach manager. “Once you get over the budgetary concerns … what do you do with that technology?” Dash and Dot are intended for pre-K through 5th grade, Mao said, and give students the ability to learn through play. Cue is directed at grades 6-8, with its curricula resources coming this summer.

“Working with SEDTA is an important step forward for us in the education space, being recognized in the education technology community,” he said. The company has a new initiative, Teach Wonder, “an online course to help teachers learn how to contextualize robots into the classroom … One of our hopes is to work with SETDA to build out that relationship.”

The full list of SETDA Emerging Private Sector Partners can be found here.

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