Core support to develop a web-based tool that identifies and responds to learning strengths and challenges
Branching Minds is a web application that combines learning science and technology to streamline, focus, and personalise intervention for struggling students. The Oak Foundation is investing in this promising new product to attract matching funds that would launch Branching Minds on a path toward scale and sustainability.
“Branching Minds’ innovative approach personalizes and individualizes effective intervention to meet the needs of every child.”
– Jill Gildea, superintendent of Fremont School District,
partner to Branching Minds
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
Maya Gat, an educator for 17 years, left her teaching position in 2013 to develop a functional tool to help customize the learning experience. Her dream was to:
While she and her co-founder, David Magier, were originally supported by financing from friends and family, today, they have start-up funding of over $1.4 million, a strong core team and advisory board, a promising teacher-facing tool, and an updated intervention and accommodation database that includes the most recent work in cognition, motivation and learning behaviour from the learning sciences.
ABOUT THE OAK FUNDED PROJECT
With funding from Oak, the Branching Minds team aims to further develop its tool to include parent, administrator and student portals to support collaboration across all stakeholders. They have sold 50,000 licenses to over 30 school districts across 14 states, and they continue to scale their sales and marketing work. Meanwhile, they are collecting efficacy data, and expanding the Branching Minds’ K-8 topics (math, reading, writing, speaking/listening and behaviour) to extend through high school. Branching Minds’ hope is that its plans for continued product design, content development, and efficacy research will lead to expanded sales and increased usage, which will make its product more attractive to Series A investors (those who invest at the $500,000 level and up).
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS /
What have you accomplished through your Oak-funded programme that you’re most proud to share with your colleagues?
Support from the Oak Foundation has enabled us to build a teacher-facing tool that improves teachers’ effectiveness to support all learners, while increasing their efficiency—saving them time and effort in their intervention process (RTI). What we are most proud of is that by improving this process for educators we have also been able to develop teachers’ mindset to support that there is a path to success for every learner.
Its school district customers serve 43,000 economically disadvantage students and 5,500 English language learners.
What’s the most interesting challenge your Oak-funded programme currently faces?
Initially the development of the Branching Minds tool was a marriage between the learning sciences, and teacher practice—our aim was to improve a teacher’s ability to understand the variability of a students’ learning profile and how to differentiate instruction to support their individualized needs. Year two of our product development transitioned our focus to address workflow around Response to Intervention (RTI), a compliance-driven intervention system most districts have adopted nationwide but struggle to achieve. Our tool now coordinates and streamlines the varying workflows across teams of teachers and administrators, to make this larger task of RTI (differentiation) easy. We are now incorporating families and students themselves into these workflows so that they can further collaborate with educators, to achieve an even more personalized level of education.
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Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.