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Jan 23, 2015 11:42 AM EST

AT&T Launches Ed-Tech Accelerator Focused on Social Impact

AT&T launched an accelerator program for ed-tech startups as part of its $350 million commitment to education.

The Aspire Accelerator, launched on Thursday, will select for- and non-profit companies to support with a customized program that includes financial investment, access to expert services and mentorship. It will look for startups that "drive students' educational or career success," particularly at-risk students, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Unlike most other accelerators, the primary measure of success for the Aspire Accelerator is societal impact rather than monetary return. Participants will be selected based on their ability to drive students' educational or career success. Special consideration will be given to solutions for students who are at-risk of dropping out of school. 

"Technology is changing how teachers manage their classrooms, how students digest information, and how parents and administrators communicate," Charlene Lake, Chief Sustainability Officer, AT&T, said in a statement. "The AT&T Aspire Accelerator is designed to support and scale ed-tech ideas that make brighter futures -- ideas from for-profits and non-profits that want to make a difference."

Aspire Accelerator's board of advisors include EdSurge founder Betsy Corcoran, former head of the NAACP Ben Jealous and Ben Jealous of Kapor Center for Social Impact.

"The startup community is in a unique position to have a positive social impact on the education of our youth," Jealous said. "The Aspire Accelerator's innovative model could lead to new ideas that help to level the playing field for students everywhere. I'm honored to be a part of the Advisory Board and look forward to seeing the results."

The telecommunication corporation has previously collaborated with Udacity and the Georgia Institute of Technology to launch a low-cost online master's degree in computer science.

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