Philly-Area Startup Gets $2 Million from Gates Foundation

The nonprofit is reimagining how teachers get trained.



A local nonprofit education start-up is on the radar of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. So much so, that the charitable organization is giving Edcamp Foundation a $2 million grant.

Conshohocken, Pa.-based Edcamp — which was started by 10 Philly-area teachers — is receiving the grant for launching a worldwide campaign of so-called “unconferences” that redefine how educators are trained. In the unconferences, teachers train each other.

The sessions are free and organized across the world by teachers and administrators. Participants decide among themselves what training sessions will be offered, according to a press release announcing the grant. There is also no commercial presence at the meetups, leaving teachers free of pressure from outside vendors trying to sell their products.

Mary Beth Lambert, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation, said that the $2 million will go towards supporting Edcamp operations; training for Edcamp organizers; and the Discovery Grant program — which will provide small individual grants to teachers who have a new idea to implement in the classroom, Edcamp-in-a-Box.

“We were thrilled to have this level of support from the Gates Foundation,” said Hadley Ferguson, Edcamp’s executive director and a founding member, in the statement. “Not only is this funding a game-changer for what has been a grassroots movement since it began, but it is a testament to the work that thousands of teachers and administrators have been doing during their free time–exchanging ideas and learning from colleagues in an open forum unlike any other professional learning platform.”

The release mentions that since Edcamp’s inception in 2010, over 700 “unconferences” have been held in 25 countries.

There are two upcoming Philadelphia-area Edcamp meetups: August 28 in Middletown, N.J., and September 3 in Voorhees, N.J.

[h/t Philadelphia Inquirer]