the elevator pitch
Recent shifts to online learning have exacerbated the pervasive, negative outcomes associated with an already strained education system. The “achievement gap” has only widened, leaving poverty-stricken students well behind their affluent counterparts. Coupled with a severe decline in physical and mental health, the need for additional programs to support adolescent students has never been more dire.
Current, effective options to alleviate learning lags (e.g. private tutors, STEM camps) are often financially or pragmatically prohibitive to lower-income families. Fortunately, that which has held back many modern students may be the very things that lift them up. Technology platforms offer an unprecedented opportunity to reach previously inaccessible groups of at-risk students. Coupled with a not-for-profit approach, these tools can be leveraged to create equitable and accessible educational opportunities. It is at this junction of technology-enabled charity that Actual Education (AE) has positioned itself.
AE recognizes the importance of meeting students on their own turf (e.g. video games, social media). In so doing, AE’s educators establish genuine connections over shared interests and dissolve preconceived notions about learning opportunities. Such an approach inherently leads with building trust, which is arguably the most important prerequisite for cultivating a positive educational relationship.
Satisfying an often unmet social need, interested parties are invited to AE’s thriving Discord community. There, students are exposed to a gamified learning experience that promotes academic, physical, and mental excellence by offering participation rewards (e.g. gaming gear). Additionally, AE offers free, personalized “Office Hours” via daily live streams by charismatic educators. AE also produces free and hyper-relatable educational video content that regularly amasses viral viewership.
WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
Our market includes all youth in grades 7-12; while our use of video games and live streaming enables us to be exceptionally effective at addressing at-risk youth that often have unmet social needs and use the internet as a form of escapism.
To address the market of high-poverty students, all our content is hosted on free platforms. As 67% of teens in low-income households still have access to a video game console, we use free-to-play games that are inclusive to these students.
WHAT PROBLEMS ARE YOU TRYING TO SOLVE?
Our primary goal is to mitigate the learning losses in STEM classes that were caused by the abrupt shift to online learning during the pandemic. Additionally, we seek to close the significant achievement gap between students that attend high-poverty versus low-poverty schools. Finally, we are devoted to addressing the declining physical and mental health of adolescents with increased screen time usage.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS DESCRIBED?
Mitigating learning losses, we provide free tutoring and produce engaging relatable academic content. In closing the education wealth gap, all our programs are free and accessible to students regardless of socioeconomic status. In addressing mental and physical health, we channel increased screen time to our community on Discord, a safe space for social interactions and friendship. We also give prizes that incentivize completing challenges that foster development in both academics and health.
WHAT IS YOUR UNIQUE ADVANTAGE?
We put educational content in a relatable language that students understand and are responsive to. Our programs build trust with students such that they view us as a supportive friend rather than an authoritarian parent or teacher. By meeting them at their level, our students are more likely to be involved in an authentic manner and readily adopt our advice for improving their educational outcomes. Gamified learning reaches students who are resistant to getting help nor know they need it.
HOW DO YOU IMPROVE EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES?
The immediate benefit is helping students understand their current coursework. Additionally, the Office Hours live stream prepares students to succeed in the college environment by introducing the concept of meeting with professors/TA’s outside of class while also removing the discouraging stigma that asking questions is admitting stupidity. Here we connect homework to real-world examples such that students are excited to excel in their classes and can visualize a successful career in STEM.
WHO IS YOUR TOP COMPETITOR AND HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT?
Khan ACADEMY. WHILE KHAN works for those already seeking education. We provide motivation to those who don’t seek help nor realize they need it. Our content blends relatable humor with education to keep students engaged.
WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS REVENUE MODEL?
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we depend on outside donations and grants to fund our innovative solutions for systemic problems in the modern day education system.
Actual Education is fortunate to already have a significant online presence through a combination of its social media accounts and developed websites. From these sources, Actual Education will pursue fundraising by asking for private donations from its fanbase via social media and direct email marketing.
Actual Education will pursue discretionary grants through the U.S. Department of Education such as The Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) program and The Upward Bound Math and Science program. While highly competitive and usually require an impressive established track record, Actual Education will leverage the expertise of its board members in successfully securing government grants through National Science Foundation (NSF), The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Actual education will also solicit monetary and tangible donations from corporate sponsors. As our expertise is engaging students who play video games, we will specifically seek sponsors in the gaming industry who would benefit substantially from brand recognition within our community of students.
Finally, as Actual Education is on the cutting-edge of technology in its implementation, there also exist unique funding sources such as paid subscriptions from supporters via the Twitch streaming platform and ad-revenue generated from free online platforms that the educational content is hosted on (i.e. Youtube, TikTok, Instagram).
WHAT ARE YOUR KEY RESULTS?
Since its first inception in February of 2021, our Discord community has grown to 1000+ students. Our Twitch channel has grown to 400+ followers with 1600+ hours of watch time on the “Office Hours” livestream and our TikTok tutorials have reached 1,000,000+ combined views. We have awarded over $6,400 in prizes to 150+ students for completing academic challenges in our Discord. From these challenges we have dozens of concrete examples where students have improved their physical activity levels as well as improved their grades.
WHAT ARE THE BACKGROUNDS OF YOUR TEAM?
GIOVANNI ROSSI, PH. D.
President - Primary educator and content creator
Giovanni Rossi, known colloquially as “Dr. Gold” by his students, is an entrepreneur who applies his expertise in STEM and the arts to advance the lives of all within his reach. Giovanni earned his Ph.D. from UCLA in Plasma Physics and a B.S. in Physics from the University of Texas. While originally focused on the decades-long pursuit of creating limitless clean energy with nuclear fusion, Giovanni recognized an urgent need for his distinct talents in aiding a strained and struggling education system. As a private tutor with over a decade of experience in STEM coursework, Giovanni has witnessed firsthand how personalized education from a charismatic teacher can completely change the course of a child's future. A mover and a shaker, Giovanni founded Actual Education to ensure all students had access to life changing education opportunities regardless of their socioeconomic status and to reach previously inaccessible groups of students who had become disillusioned with their local learning experiences. Giovanni also serves as an education consultant for Kudu, an online textbook startup, and helps create digital courses in math and physics that enables engaging and interactive learning at a fraction of normal textbook costs.
Being raised with five younger sisters, Giovanni has a firm belief in the strength of community. From his early childhood as an Eagle Scout volunteering cello performances at Alzheimer's homes to door knocking in Iowa and Georgia for presidential and senate elections, Giovanni is dedicated to taking decisive action that creates a more cohesive society. Combining an extensive knowledge base from eclectic experiences in science, technology, marketing, and music, Giovanni is uniquely qualified to tackle the seemingly endless challenges within the modern education system on a holistic basis. Actual Education is his life’s work; to create a revolutionary community that supports students in both their academic achievement and personal development.
NICCO REGGENTE, PH. D.
Treasurer - Grant/Foundation Liaison and Program Development
Nicco Reggente is a cognitive neuroscientist who specializes in using neuroimaging and machine learning to enhance both cognition and mental well being. He is passionate about translating scientific proceedings into ecologically valid and pragmatic interventions that serve to promote human flourishing. Nicco earned his Ph.D. from UCLA in Cognitive Neuroscience and two B.As from NYU in Philosophy and Psychology. Dr. Reggente currently serves as the principal investigator at the Institute for Advanced Consciousness Studies, a 501(c)(3) non-profit research institute that uniquely leverages the rigor of academia within the framework of a lean startup model. His research pursuits have attracted over $3M in funding from organizations like NSF, DARPA, and NIH. He also served as the program officer for the Tiny Blue Dot Foundation where he managed and evaluated the progress of an international constellation of research projects incurring over $8M of yearly funding. Nicco is also the founder and CEO of Strain Genie, Inc., which utilizes an individual’s genetic markers to generate hyper-personalized insights impacting responsible plant-based medicine consumption.
Nicco’s poverty stricken upbringing instilled in him an unshakeable reverence for science and education– the very tools that enabled him to not become a victim of his circumstance. As a result, he has been a regular volunteer in his community spanning from his time as an Eagle Scout to his role as a community outreach leader at UCLA, responsible for coordinating science workshops in impoverished communities. Nicco’s academic, managerial, and entrepreneurial pursuits, coupled with his long-standing focus on community betterment, attracted him to Actual Education where he currently moderates a scientific reading comprehension channel on the organization’s community Discord server.
Secretary - Corporate Sponsorships and Donor Relations
David Nguyen is a business development and partnerships lead who is passionate about giving back to his community through non-profit organizations. David earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and is currently pursuing his MBA at California State University. David is currently employed at VinFast, a rapidly emerging EV company from Vietnam, where he manages multi-million dollar partnerships for infotainment and marketing integrations. David’s previous experience in nonprofit organizations includes starting his own for raising testicular cancer awareness.
As an avid gamer during his youth, David cherished his experiences playing video games as relaxing downtime between academic studies. As an adult, he contends with how today’s society vilifies video games as a deterrent from academic achievement and mental wellness. Seeking to disprove these notions, David joined Actual Education to demonstrate how video games can be used positively to relieve stress in students’ lives and encourage excellence in the classroom by having students apply the same problem-solving skills they learn in the virtual world. David pioneered the use of gaming rewards to incentivize students to participate in the academic programs of Actual Education and has been instrumental in building the community through his own gaming live streams.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?