Arizona college students pitch business solutions to education problems – the state press database report

ED pitch winner amanda gryzkewicz, a graduate student at NAU, is presented $50,000 for her concept "I can math" at the phoenix art museum on march 20, 2018.

A NAU graduate student won $50,000 in a competition in which arizona college entrepreneurs pitched their education companies to local investors.

Social venture partners, a group that invests in non-profits and entrepreneurs, hosted a competition called ed pitch at the phoenix art museum on tuesday, providing a platform for college entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas on how some of arizona’s education problems could be fixed.

Amanda gryzkewicz, an education graduate student at NAU, won the competition with her idea, “ I can math,” which focuses on improving math literacy in arizona schools.Amanda gryzkewicz


This idea came after she found out only 3 percent of preschool class time is spent learning math, while a much larger portion is spent on reading and literacy skills.

“the validation shows that math is important,” gryzkewicz said. “we have to treat it as an important subject. Typically, we don’t look at math until about third grade, because that’s when we start doing state testing. Then we don’t look at it again until about eighth grade. So it’s really important because by third grade, it’s already too late.”

Filiberto vargas, a second-year master’s student in secondary education at ASU who teaches high school students through teach for america, won the audience vote and $5,000 for his company “blended learning."

High school

His program offers students personalized online programs to help them work toward their strengths. The program involves four steps: accountability of the students, a database of lesson plans, a way to utilize student progress and integrating competition into the lessons.

“I think it’s just amazing that I was able to to transmit my message and have it come across to all types of people,” he said. “there were people ranging all the way from high school to 60- or 70-year-olds."

“I think it gives you the leadership skills to go out and find solutions,” he said. “it’s getting better, but it is still very difficult to teach.”

Each of the five groups took home money at the end of the competition after the burton family foundation decided to award the two empty-handed groups – both made up of ASU students – $5,000 each.Amanda gryzkewicz

Alexandra mooney, an elementary education freshman, and cyrus commissariat, a political science and history freshman, pitched a literacy project to help serve native american communities in arizona by partnering with the boys and girls clubs of america and making workbooks to increase student creativity.

The other ASU group that participated in the event, led by samantha mooney, a justice studies junior, and karis felthouse, a 2016 political science graduate, hopes to increase the number of guidance counselors in arizona by using retirees as mentors for high school students. The pair hopes these mentors will help more students in arizona go to college.Graduate student

The U.S. Census bureau 2015 annual survey of school system finances ranked arizona 49th in per-pupil public and secondary education spending.

Shane cox, the event’s keynote speaker, has personal experience with this kind of competition and with education solutions. He was featured on a recent episode of “shark tank” where three investors bought into his company qball, which makes a dodge ball with a built-in microphone.

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