December 12, 2022

Saying “Yass” to Innovation in Education

Dana Bernardino

In August of 2021, the STOP Awards Initiative to Transform Education was established in partnership with the Center for Education Reform to advance the work of education providers during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The award – now named the Yass Prize for Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless Education (for founders Janine and Jeff Yass) –  is in the thick of its second annual run. Of the many hundreds of inspirational and innovative nonprofits, community organizations, and charter schools who applied to receive the $1 million Yass Prize, only 32 remain. 

“There are literally thousands of education leaders who are quietly transforming a previously stagnant education landscape,” said Jeanne Allen, Yass Foundation Director and Founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform. “Our goal is to find and fund the best and influence others to follow their examples, so that no child has to wait for the education that best meets their needs.”

The event, held by the Yass Prize in partnership with Forbes, was keynoted by Forbes Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media Steve Forbes, Yass Prize Founder Janine Yass and previous recipients of the Yass Prize and STOP Awards Initiative. 

A  few weeks ago, semi-finalists convened at Mater Brickell Academy in Miami for the 2022 Yass Prize Accelerator, a robust evaluation and pitch process bootcamp to help applicants learn from one another as well as entrepreneurs, technology leaders and investors– all culminating in a 3-minute pitch to judges as to why their organization should win. 

With the help of expert coaches, they attended sessions and workshops to sharpen their skills ahead of their presentations. The many experts asked to coach participants through their pitches and slide decks included highlights such as former candidate for President of the United States Jeb Bush– and 1Huddle CEO and Founder Sam Caucci.

Over the course of 4 days Caucci ran two workshops, the first on how to design an effective pitch to investors, the second focussing on a broader conversation on the state of credentialing in today’s workforce; drawing on his expertise as a CEO and sought after advisor to Fortune 500s and political leaders alike on problems impacting the talent pipeline, and which skills are most in-demand. 

“I told them, you’ve got 180 seconds,” he said, when asked about the experience. “That’s what 3-minutes boil down to. Which must have been helpful, because a woman came up to me afterwards and said she deleted half her deck.” 

The semifinalists are spread across 23 different states and a variety of learning models, including public schools, microschools, hybrid learning programs, internship programs and charter schools. 

“It was refreshing.” Caucci said. “As much as there was an emphasis on entrepreneurship and tech, these people were educators, looking for real, tangible ways to make things better for learners across this country.”  

The semifinalists are spread across 23 different states and include a wide variety of programs, many of which have goals that transcend that of formal education, like the Black Mothers Forum in Phoenix, Arizona, founded by Janelle Wood in 2016 to promote healthy mindsets and relationships to end the school-to-prison pipeline and others like unCommon Construction, an apprenticeship program in New Orleans, Louisiana where high schoolers interested in construction can apply to earn hourly pay, internship credits, and, along with houses, build technical and leadership skills.

The months of preparation will come to a head on the evening of December 14th in New York City, where winners will be announced to a packed house of past and present winners, judges, supporters and friends.

For his part, Caucci, who will be in attendance, can’t wait.“There’s just so much to be optimistic about for the future. And it’s all right here, in the awesome energy and ideas coming out of this program.” 

Congrats to the Yass Prize Semi-Finalists

  1. Arizona Autism Charter Schools, Phoenix, Arizona
  2. Arkansas Lighthouse Charter Schools, North Little Rock, Arkansas
  3. Black Mothers Forum, Phoenix, Arizona
  4. Brilla Public Charter Schools – Paterson, Paterson, New Jersey
  5. Build UP, Birmingham, Alabama
  6. Capital Prep Schools, Bridgeport, Connecticut
  7. Chickasaw City Schools, Chickasaw, Alabama
  8. Coded by Kids, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  9. Da Vinci RISE High, El Segundo, California
  10. Edily, San Francisco, California
  11. Engaged Detroit, Detroit, Michigan
  12. Father Judge High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  13. HOPE Ranch Learning Academy, Hudson, Florida
  14. Jumoke Academy Charter School, Hartford, Connecticut
  15. KaiPod Learning, Boston, Massachusetts
  16. Kind Academy, Coral Springs, Florida
  17. Launch Expeditionary Learning Charter School, Brooklyn, New York
  18. LiFT Learning, Bristol, Vermont
  19. Mission Achievement and Success Charter School, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  20. Northern Cass School District, Hunter, North Dakota
  21. Oakmont Education, Akron, Ohio
  22. Open Sky Education, Waukesha, Wisconsin…and beyond
  23. Prichard Preparatory School, Whistler, Alabama
  24. Purdue Polytechnic High Schools, Indianapolis, Indiana
  25. Rapunzl, Chicago, Illinois
  26. RCMA Immokalee Community Academy, Immokalee, Florida
  27. SailFuture, St. Petersburg, Florida
  28. Soar Academy School and Tutoring Center, Evans, Georgia
  29. The Lab School of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee
  30. unCommon Construction, New Orleans, Louisiana
  31. Urban Preparatory Academy Wichita Institute, Wichita, Kansas
  32. Young Women’s Preparatory Network, Dallas, Texas

About 1Huddle

1Huddle is a coaching and development platform that uses quick-burst mobile games to more quickly and effectively educate, elevate, and energize your workforce — from frontline to full-time.

With a mobile-first approach to preparing the modern worker, a mobile library of 3,000+ quick-burst employee skill games, an on-demand game marketplace that covers 16 unique workforce skill areas, and the option for personalized content, 1Huddle is changing the way organizations think about their training – from a one-time boring onboarding experience to a continuous motivational tool. 

Key clients include Loews Hotels, Novartis, Madison Square Garden, PIMCO, TAO Group, and the United States Air Force. To learn more about 1Huddle and its platform, please visit

Dana Bernardino, Manager of Digital Marketing at 1Huddle

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