Solution Overview

What is the name of your organization?

Teachers Lead Tech

What is the name of your solution?

Teachers Lead Tech

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

A comprehensive system for K-8 teachers to bring fundamental computer science skills to every girl

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

A recent report from Girls Who Code found that while 37% of computer scientists in 1995 in the US were women, only 24% were in 2017. This number is projected to drop to as low as 20% by 2027.

Girls Who Code also discovered that pivotal influencers play a critical role in shaping women's decisions to pursue careers in the technology sector. The greatest influence on women’s decision to pursue a career in technology is a family member (60%) and a teacher (50%). Early exposure to technology and encouragement are vital factors in empowering women to choose these fields.

Yet, an international report by the Vodafone Foundation in 2022 shows that 20% of teachers surveyed possess little to no experience in utilizing digital technology for teaching purposes, 48% of teachers expressed heightened work stress due to the lack of integration of digital technology in their teaching methods, while 42% feel limited in their ability to effectively use technology. These challenges hinder the education system from equipping young girls with the necessary digital skills to thrive.

Another hurdle we face is the global trend of aging teachers (83% women globally, OECD), with an average age of 43 in the United States. This poses an additional challenge in breaking down biases surrounding technology. Without role models and encouragement, young girls continue to lack the inspiration they need to engage in tech-related subjects.

The STEM industry is rapidly evolving, introducing new and exciting roles. According to the World Economic Forum in 2021, 65% of children starting school this year will embark on technology careers that don't even exist yet. Embracing these opportunities is crucial for young girls to thrive in the 21st-century technology landscape, as technology creativity and computer science have been proven to enhance academic performance, including math skills, reasoning abilities, and overall creativity.

The accessibility to fundamental technology skills remains limited for the majority of children, often determined by factors such as income, race, gender, and geographical location. If we truly aspire to see every girl flourish in the current world, technology skills must be regarded as equally essential as reading, writing, and mathematics.

In order to see the next generation of empowered women in a complex and increasingly digital world, it is critically important to prioritize the necessary support and tools required to equip schools and teachers for success in nurturing young girls' interest in technology from an early age. By investing in their future, we empower them to defy stereotypes, pursue their passions, and become trailblazers in a world that needs their contributions.

What is your solution?

Teachers Lead Tech empowers K-8 teachers with innovative and creative technology and computer science curriculum and classroom tools to ensure that EVERY girl in the classroom gains access to creative technology skills.

Our aim is to support teachers by providing them with a comprehensive system that takes care of three crucial aspects:

  1. Engaging Computer Science Curriculum, that seamlessly integrates various technology concepts and tools, including coding, 3D modeling, virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and more, with traditional subjects. For example, students learn about loops in a history project, apply coding principles while studying physics, or explore the world of art while building AI projects. The curriculum works as standalone courses or can be easily integrated into existing subjects, making the learning experience more relevant.

  2. Digital Classroom Learning Assistant – each student is equipped with a personal tool that serves as their learning buddy. Following our pedagogical path of "Understand->Practice->Create" and a lesson plan, this assistant fosters collaboration, self-directed learning, and the creation of unique projects. We are currently exploring the integration of additional layers of AI to enhance teaching quality, provide encouragement, and personalized feedback to students.

  3. 360° Support & Learning for Teachers: our system provides relevant professional development resources, empowering teachers to enhance their skills and confidence in teaching technologies and computer science. We also foster a supportive community where teachers can connect, share insights, and learn from one another.

Teachers Lead Tech is designed to save teachers valuable time, alleviate the mental load they face in the classroom, and provide an extra set of hands to support their efforts. By equipping teachers with necessary tools, resources and a supportive community, we empower them to provide a holistic learning experience and effectively teach creative technology skills to every girl, ensuring no one is left behind.

Teachers Lead Tech was recently announced as the best Learning and Education solution globally at the World Summit Awards.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

We are dedicated to directly and meaningfully improving the lives of K-8 teachers, who make up 58% of the teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, 82% being female (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 2019-2020 data) and hold immense influence in the field of STEM. This community, often underserved, represents a powerful untapped potential within the world of technology and creativity.

To ensure that our solution effectively addresses the needs of K-8 teachers, we prioritize understanding their unique requirements and challenges. We actively engage with teachers throughout the development process to gather their insights and feedback. By conducting user research and collecting data on their experiences, we gain valuable information that helps us refine and enhance our solution.

We are creating a curriculum that aligns with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) standards. This curriculum can be used either as a standalone course or integrated into various subjects, providing flexibility for teachers. Each lesson within the curriculum is accompanied by a Digital Learning Assistant, a tool designed to support teachers and save them valuable time and workload. The Learning Assistant promotes students' autonomous learning, creativity, and collaboration, while also adapting to the diverse needs of individual students.

We are committed to continually improving our solution based on feedback from K-8 teachers. By actively seeking their input and incorporating it into our development, we ensure that our curriculum remains aligned with market requirements and effectively addresses the needs of teachers and their students, this way ensuring that every girl, regardless of her circumstances, gets the opportunity to thrive in the world of STEM.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We are a female-led team of technology and education professionals, with a collective experience of over 8 years in implementing large-scale education projects. Our team is devoted to improving education by making technology creativity skills accessible and untapping the potential of every student. 

At the helm of our team is Monika Katkute, the Founder and CEO, who brings a strong voice and commitment to promoting quality and inclusive technology education on a global scale. Monika previously established a technology academy for kids in Lithuania, reaching over 20,000 children. She raised rounds of 650,000 USD in investments and leads Teachers Lead Tech strategy globally, with a vision to reach 20 million girls and boys by 2025. 

Our team's proximity to the communities we serve is evident through our impact and close engagement with educators. In the initial 18 months following the launch of Teachers Lead Tech, we successfully onboarded 60% of K-5 teachers in Lithuania, making a direct impact on over 80,000 girls and boys. We have recently opened and adapted our solution to K-8 teachers as well. To ensure sustainable growth and a long-term impact model, we have established strategic partnerships with leading tech companies, such as Google, Mailerlite, and Vinted, who serve as social investors. Additionally, we have secured multiple-year agreements with major city municipalities and the Ministry of Education, solidifying our commitment to long-term impact.

We prioritize understanding the needs of the communities we serve and actively engage with teachers as we develop our solution. Through ongoing user research, data collection, feedback sessions and scientific research, we continuously refine our curriculum, tools, and support to align with the real-world requirements and challenges faced by K-8 teachers. 

With the recent launch of our solution in the USA, we are actively working on securing state and district deals to scale our impact and serve teachers across the country. 

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

  • Support K-12 educators in effectively teaching and engaging girls in STEM in classroom or afterschool settings.

In what city and state is your solution team headquartered?

Vilnius, Vilnius City Municipality, Lithuania

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?

7700+ K-8 teachers, impacting 110.000+ children. 

Why are you applying to the Challenge?

Participating in the Gender Equity in STEM Challenge aligns with our main goal – to be scale-ready and make a lasting impact in promoting gender equity in STEM education. 

One of our key objectives is to develop a resilient business plan that encompasses our growth strategies, financial sustainability, and long-term scalability. Through the Challenge, we have the opportunity to receive valuable feedback and guidance from experts, mentors, and judges who can help us identify any blind spots in our current approach. This feedback will be instrumental in refining our business model, optimizing our operations, and ensuring that we are well-prepared to scale our solution to reach a larger audience.

We also recognize the importance of measuring our impact effectively. The Gender Equity in STEM Challenge will enable us to delve deeper into impact measurement methodologies and establish evaluation frameworks. 

Another valuable aspect is gaining access to the extensive network provided by MIT Solve. This network offers a platform for meaningful connections, whether it be with potential future clients, strategic partners, or like-minded organizations. Building these connections is vital to our mission as it allows us to collaborate, share best practices, and leverage collective expertise to amplify our impact. The opportunities for partnership and collaboration that arise from the MIT Solve network can significantly accelerate our efforts in advancing gender equity in STEM education.

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Monika Katkute-Gelzine

How is your Team Lead connected to the community or communities in which your project is based?

Monika Katkute, as the Founder and CEO of our organization, has deep connections with the communities we serve. Her involvement and dedication to technology education have allowed her to establish direct relationships with our educators, students, and stakeholders.

Monika's journey began with the establishment of a technology academy for kids in Lithuania, where she personally interacted with students and witnessed the impact of technology education on their lives. Through this hands-on experience, she developed a profound understanding of the challenges and needs faced by students and educators in the local community.

Her engagement with teachers has been very instrumental in shaping Teachers Lead Tech product and impact. Monika has actively collaborated with K-8 teachers, listening to their insights, concerns, and aspirations for integrating technology creativity skills into the curriculum. By fostering open dialogues, establishing strong partnerships with teachers and even regularly assisting teachers in her local school, Monika ensures that our solution is designed to address teachers’ needs effectively and aligns with their teaching objectives.

Monika's involvement in the Female Edtech Fellowship Program Europe and her recognition as one of the top 14 Female Edtech Founders indicates her commitment to empowering women and girls in education. Through these initiatives, she contributes to creating a supportive network and platform for female entrepreneurs and leaders to collaborate and drive change in the education landscape.

Monika's close ties to the community also extend beyond individual interactions. By securing long-term partnerships with leading tech companies, city municipalities, and the Ministry of Education, she has forged alliances with key stakeholders in the education ecosystem. These partnerships not only provide financial support and resources but also foster a collaborative approach to addressing the community's needs.

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

We promote technology creativity skills in a new, improved and scalable way.

  1. Creative and Wide-Scope Integration: Unlike traditional approaches that treat technology education as a separate subject, Teachers Lead Tech takes a holistic approach by integrating technology concepts and tools into various subjects across the curriculum. By merging coding, 3D modeling, VR, AI, and other technological aspects with traditional subjects such as history, physics, languages, or art, we create an effective learning experience. This approach not only enhances students' understanding of technology but also reinforces the relevance and practical applications of these skills in real-world contexts.

  1. Self-directed Learning: The solution incorporates a digital classroom learning assistant, providing each student with a personal tool to follow a pedagogical path of "Understand->Practice->Create." This personalized learning approach promotes autonomy, collaboration, and creativity, allowing students to explore their interests and create unique projects. By catering to different learning styles and needs, Teachers Lead Tech ensures that every student can engage with technology creativity skills at their own pace and in their preferred manner.

  1. Comprehensive Support for Teachers: Teachers Lead Tech goes beyond providing curriculum materials by offering 360° support for K-8 teachers. This includes teaching and learning paths based on their levels, relevant professional development workshops, and a supportive community. By equipping teachers with the necessary resources, training, and ongoing support, Teachers Lead Tech empowers them to confidently deliver technology education, even if they have limited experience or face challenges in integrating technology into their teaching practices.

Teachers Lead Tech has the power to change the market dynamics by creating a demand for comprehensive, integrated technology education solutions. As more schools and educational institutions recognize the benefits of this innovative approach, there is an opportunity for the market to expand and evolve to meet these needs. This can encourage the development of new technologies, tools, and resources that support the integration of technology into various subjects, thereby transforming the landscape of education and preparing students for the demands of a technology-driven world.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Next Year:

  1. Directly impact 125,000 girls (250,000 students in total), through our engagement with 10,000 teachers. By fostering a love for technology and nurturing creativity, we aim to empower these students to gain fundamental technology skills and discover future opportunities in STEM fields.

  2. Improve digital learning assistant to enhance teaching quality, provide encouragement, and personalized feedback to students.

How We Will Achieve Them (Next Year):

  1. Strategic Partnerships: We will establish partnerships with school districts, educational organizations, and government entities to reach a wide network of teachers and students. 

  2. Continuous Improvement: We will actively work with the community of teachers and students to continually refine and improve our curriculum, learning tools, and support systems. By incorporating user feedback, we can ensure that our solution remains relevant and effective.

Next Five Years:

  1. Reach and Empower 10 million girls (20 million students in total), by engaging with 1M K-8 Teachers: Through strategic partnerships, and scalability measures, we will work towards maximizing our impact and establishing Teachers Lead Tech as a leading solution in technology education.

How We Will Achieve Them (Next Five Years):

  1. Global Expansion: We will expand Teachers Lead Tech to the USA market, adapting the curriculum and support materials to suit local contexts and educational standards. This will enable us to reach a diverse range of teachers and students countrywide.

  2. Research and Innovation: We will invest in ongoing research and innovation to continuously improve our solution. This includes staying updated on the most effective technologies and pedagogical approaches. 

  3. Advocacy: We will actively engage in advocacy efforts to promote the importance of technology creativity skills in education. By collaborating with policymakers, educational institutions, and advocacy groups, we will strive to influence policies and initiatives that prioritize equitable access to quality technology education for all.

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We utilize a combination of quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess the effectiveness and impact of our solution:

  1. Number of Teachers Reached: We track the number of K-8 teachers who have engaged with Teachers Lead Tech, and analyze how they engage with our platform, lessons and tools.

  2. Number of Students Impacted: We measure the number of students who have directly benefited from Teachers Lead Tech through their participation in classrooms where our solution is implemented. 

  3. Teacher Satisfaction and Feedback: We collect feedback from teachers through surveys, interviews, and focus groups to gauge their satisfaction with our solution. Their insights and suggestions help us make continuous improvements.

These indicators align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality). By monitoring these indicators, we ensure that our progress is aligned with the broader global development agenda and contribute to the achievement of these goals.

Describe in simple terms how and why you expect your solution to have an impact on the problem.

By providing engaging curriculum, empowering teachers, fostering self-directed learning, and leveraging data, we can inspire and equip girls with the necessary technology creativity skills and improve their learning outcomes in general. This, in turn, can lead to increased interest, participation, and achievement in STEM subjects and careers. By addressing the gender gap in STEM education at an early stage, we aim to create a more inclusive future, where every student has the opportunity to thrive in the digital world.

Our approach aligns with established best practices in education and addresses the specific needs and challenges identified by teachers and students.

If your solution is tech-based, describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Our solution consists of multiple pieces:

1. Main Ruby on Rails / React TS web application, hosted on AWS can be further split into:

  • Admin part - used for schools, licenses, banners, workshops, users and content management (also includes our in-house built content editor);
  • User-facing part - teachers' learning path, classroom management and learning buddy for students - our unique way to effortlessly conduct lessons and distribute learning materials throughout each classroom.


2. Data pipeline - a DBT project that aggregates all the collected user actions and stores them in a warehouse, which is used by various integrations and data analytics.

3. Teachers community building through a combination of Facebook group, community events and PD workshops.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which US states does your solution currently operate?

We have launched broadly, so our platform is accessible in all states.

In which US states will your solution be operating within the next year?

We are at the beginning of securing first deals on states level, but our solution will remain accessible in all states.

If your solution operates outside of the US, in which countries does it operate?

  • Lithuania
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

8 - Full-time, 3 - part-time, 1- contractor, 1 - maternity leave

How long have you been working on your solution?

We started building this specific system in October 2019, after working directly with K-8 students for 4+ years and piloting a learning system with teachers since the beginning of 2019.

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

We recognize the value and importance of diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds in driving innovation and creating a more equitable and inclusive educational environment. Here's how we approach it currently:

  1. Women-Led Team: Teachers Lead Tech is proudly led by a team of women who bring their unique perspectives and experiences to the table. We believe in the power of representation and aim to inspire and empower girls and women in the field of technology by leading by example.

  2. Remote and Flexible Work Policy: Our fully remote work environment allows us to overcome geographical barriers and create opportunities for individuals from different backgrounds and locations to join our team. We prioritize flexibility, which helps accommodate diverse needs.

  3. Inclusive Work Environment: We strive to create an inclusive work environment where all team members are welcomed, respected, supported, and valued. We promote open and transparent communication, encourage active participation, and actively address any instances of bias or discrimination.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Our business model is currently based on B2C, B2B and B2G strategies and a full-year access to our platform for 10 USD / student. 

B2C: selling access licenses directly to schools.

B2B: to accelerate our impact, we involve leading technology companies in the region in investing in students’ skills - purchasing licenses for teachers in need.

B2G: to establish sustainable growth, we partner with governmental organizations, major city counsels and development centers that have digital competencies as their strategic goal. We have major Lithuanian cities as our clients.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Government (B2G)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

  1. Selling Product Licenses: We offer product licenses to states, districts, schools and teachers, enabling them to implement Teachers Lead Tech's innovative curriculum and technology solutions in their classrooms. 

  2. Service Contracts with Government: We actively pursue service contracts with government entities at various levels, including local, regional, and national governments.  By partnering with government agencies, we expand our reach to a larger student population.

  3. Raising Investment Capital: We strategically seek investment capital from private investors and impact-driven organizations who align with our mission and vision. These investments enable us to scale our operations, enhance our technology platform, and reach more schools and students.

  4. Grant Funding: We actively pursue grants from foundations that support initiatives in education, gender equity, STEM and edtech innovations. These grants provide vital financial resources to support our research and development efforts, pilot programs, and expansion into underserved communities.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

So far, Teachers Lead Tech 1) has raised 650,000 USD in investments, 2) attracted 300,000+ USD from various grants and governmental services and 3) generated 700,000+ USD from selling directly to schools and teachers.

Solution Team

 
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