Category: News

NEXT Venture Summit to feature 10 Greenville area startups

Skillsgapp // Skillionaire Games selected as one of the region’s most exciting startups.

Returning for its eighth year, the NEXT Venture Summit will highlight 10 of the region’s most exciting startups and offer expanded opportunities for entrepreneurs to connect with funders, founders and other experts over two days starting Sept. 12.

The summit has evolved into the premier gathering of the area’s startup community and showcases the dynamic nature of entrepreneurship in Greenville and the wider region, according to Eric Weissmann, NEXT’s executive director.

The summit kicks off Sept. 12 from 1-5 p.m. at Huguenot Mill with an invitation-only investor match day where startups will have the chance to connect with potential investors.

The summit conference follows on Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Greenville One Center with a variety of keynote speakers. The day will also spotlight 10 of the region’s most exciting startups.

“(These companies) represent a good narrative of what is going on in this region,” Weissmann said. “It’s a great mixture of companies. Some have raised money, some are hiring people — as well as some that are spin-outs or about to take off.” Read More.

Skillsgapp finalist for Cool Tool and Trendsetter Awards: The EdTech Awards – EdTech Digest, 2023

The largest and most competitive recognition program in all of education technology.

Recognizing the biggest names in edtech – and those who soon will be.

We celebrate who’s who—and what’s next.

The EdTech Awards recognizes people in and around education for outstanding contributions in transforming education through technology to enrich the lives of learners everywhere.

Featuring edtech’s best and brightest, the annual program shines a spotlight on cool tools, inspiring leaders and innovative trendsetters across the:

  • K-12
  • Higher Education, and
  • Skills and Workforce sectors.

Read more.

UMASS Boston, Verizon, and Skillsgapp: Department of Commerce $2.97M Grant to Enhance Digital Connections in Minority Communities

UMass Boston has launched a pilot project to increase broadband access and additional services for students and anchor communities with funding from a two-year, $2.97 million grant from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program. UMass Boston is one of 12 schools to receive the NTIA funding designated for Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).

Vice Provost for Research Bala Sundaram and Associate CIO Apurva Mehta conceived the UMass Boston project, Addressing Digital Access Gaps in Education (ADAGE), during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the pandemic, the university was able to pivot from traditional classroom instruction to synchronous online classes and implement a Chromebook loaner program. For segments of the student population, though, participating in online learning came with a serious obstacle: a lack of access to high-speed internet.

Sundaram explained: “As a university with majority-minority demographics, the UMass Boston community is disproportionately affected by uneven broadband access. We designed ADAGE to reduce the technology access gaps we saw growing during the pandemic.”

ADAGE’s three-pronged approach includes increasing the university’s capacity to offer hybrid/flexible courses, expanding access to high-speed internet and devices, and exposing students to technology career paths.

“We anticipate highly promising results from ADAGE. This two-year pilot study will give us the opportunity to evaluate just how much impact having access to broadband, computers, Hyflex learning, and introductions to IT career pathways has for our students and anchor communities,” said Mehta.

The university is strengthening the campus technology infrastructure by retrofitting classrooms for synchronous online courses. HyFlex is a solution for driving student success because it offers remote and in-person learning options to the diverse student community. The project goal is to convert 58 classrooms, a third of the classrooms on campus, to support the HyFlex modality. Studies have shown that students in HyFlex classrooms perform as well as their face-to-face peers academically, while also benefiting from having agency in how they learn and participate in their classes.

Through a partnership with Verizon’s Digital Inclusion Program, 200 students will receive a Verizon Jetpack (mobile hotspot device). The students will also receive a Microsoft Surface Go computer, and gamified content created by experts in fields such as app development and information literacy and security.

One hundred families from UMass Boston’s anchor communities will be enrolled in Verizon’s Digital Inclusion Program to receive Jetpacks, too. Participating families will also receive Microsoft Go computers and technical training. Families will be selected with the help of four UMass Boston centers active in the anchor communities: Institute for Asian American StudiesMauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and PolicyWilliam Monroe Trotter Institute, and Institute for New England Native American Studies.

To create workforce and career pathway awareness, ADAGE will leverage UMass Boston’s professional development courses combined with a broad range of technology skills trainings through platforms such as Skillsgapp, LinkedIn Learning, and Apple’s Everyone Can Code and SWIFT App Development.

These learning opportunities will enhance students’ skills in fields such as coding and create awareness of specific career opportunities. For example, Skillsgapp, accelerates and democratizes workforce development through engaging mobile gameplay. Skillsgapp games, which are available in English and Spanish, provide awareness about careers in cybersecurity by simulating tasks and scenarios that succeed in being informative, at least in part, because they are so entertaining. Practical details about cybersecurity careers, training, and salaries are integrated into the games.

Go to News Release.

NEXT Launches Accelerator Program – Skillsgapp Selected for Cohort #1 

NEXT kicked off its first-ever accelerator program on Monday, March 6th. This new program introduces a curated 10-week curriculum, taught with the expertise of local former founders and business leaders. The first cohort, comprised of high-growth tech companies, will work with program leaders to build a growth plan to take their startup to the next level. This accelerator aims to grow and scale some of the region’s high-potential startups by providing dedicated resources to their specific challenges and needs. 

“We saw a gap in the ecosystem and decided to develop this program to coach and lead in the specific areas where we know founders need the most help,” says Scott Millwood, cofounder of an early-stage seed fund in Greenville and a two-time startup founder himself. 

This program leads to a presentation in late May and the content is focused on leadership development, team building, business planning and funding. 

The 11 companies participating are:

  • Bottle Titan
  • Custom Donations
  • Mapsheet
  • North 7th
  • RAAMP
  • Ruffian Software
  • Safe Helipad
  • Skillsgapp
  • TestedHQ
  • Vicinity Capital
  • WAVS Custom

Read More.

EdTech Digest: State of EdTech 2023-2024 – Skillsgapp Named Top 100 in K-12 and Workforce

STATE OF EDTECH 2023-2024: The Minds Behind What’s Now and What’s Next, featuring:
>> 10 edtech companies to watch
>> EDTECH’S TOP 100 [from K-12, to higher ed and workforce]
>> 1000 companies transforming education
Link to Download Issue

Beyond the Wrench Podcast: Leveraging Gamification to Promote Technician Careers-Tina Zwolinski, skillsgapp

This generation of technicians learns differently. Tina Zwolinksi, CEO & Founder, skillsgapp, shares her knowledge on how gamification can engage the younger generation and attract them to technician careers. Click here to listen.

(1:02) Guest Background
(3:12) Defining and Communicating with Gen Z
(17:12) Embracing the Digital World
(23:01) What is Gamification?
(33:29) Familiarizing Young Kids with the Industry
(52:11) skillsgapp Gamification

Site Selection Magazine: 2023 Workforce Guide – featuring skillsgapp’s Skillionaire Games, Rad Lab, and South Carolina

Workforce has been cited in Site Selection Magazine’s annual survey of corporate consultants as the No. 1 factor in site selection decisions for several years in a row. The 2023 Workforce Guide is a special report providing insight into workforce development partnerships and practices across the U.S.

Skillsgapp and South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry Feature: A Workforce Gaming Initiative, Rad Lab, is having a positive impact on the future workforce: Wanna Be A Skillionaire?

Members of a South Carolina industry association say a fun online game with prizes could put young people in line for prized STEM careers.

The industry is life sciences, the fastest-growing industry among South Carolina’s knowledge economy sectors, having grown by more than 42% since 2017. The organization is SCBIO, a statewide life sciences organization representing more than 1,000 organizations statewide employing more than 87,000 professionals across the sector’s entire range of disciplines. In early November 2022, it partnered with Skillionaire GamesTM — the business-to-consumer side of Greenville-based education technology firm skillsgapp — to announce the recent launch of Rad Lab, a mobile phone game that provides organizers with trackable geographic data and customizable incentives based on a player’s location, performance and proficiencies as they compete to gain ever-higher levels of skill in various STEM-based life science areas.

Read More Here.

Value Inspiration Podcast #243: Tina Zwolinski, CEO Skillsgapp – on game-changing workforce development

A story about using technology to connect youth to life-changing careers.

This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to help manufacturing and cybersecurity businesses to attract and grow a sustainable workforce pipeline.

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. How to find transformative innovation opportunities by zooming out to the global picture
  2. How to create a flywheel for growth when there’s no real owner of the problem. 
  3. How you can solve a global challenge by approaching it locally.
  4. The power that unlocks when purpose and technology blend.

Listen here:

Outspoken Podcast-Season 5: Collaborating, Gaming, and the STEM Talent Pipeline

Listen Here.

In this episode of The Outspoken Podcast, host Shana Cosgrove talks to Cynthia Jenkins, co-founder and CMO of Skillsgapp, maker of Skillionaire Games. Cynthia describes how her company is developing video games that school districts and industry leaders can use to teach middle and high school students about STEM careers in their local communities. Cynthia describes her training in journalism and advertising as well as her mid-career transition—together with collaborator Tina Zwolinski—from marketing to the world of gaming. Shana and Cynthia talk about the need for soft skills in every field and the increasing recognition that reaching and teaching kids earlier about opportunities in STEM is crucial to filling an anticipated 700,000 new tech jobs with industry and government employers. Cynthia says that, yes, sometimes you actually should go to bed angry, and she tells Shana a surprising story about a chance meeting with The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood.

Skillsgapp Co-Founder And Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Cynthia Jenkins Joins Girls Inc.’s Project Accelerate

Cynthia Jenkins, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of skillsgapp, a company that develops free-to-play mobile gaming apps that help middle and high school-aged+ youth achieve life-changing career awareness and localized pathway access, as well as develop the soft skills necessary to pursue jobs in skills-based industries through game-changing play, has announced a strategic partnership with the Girls Inc.’s Project Accelerate mentorship program, a pilot undertaken in Orange County, California.

The Girls Inc.’s Project Accelerate mentorship program seeks to close the gender equity gap by supporting young women through post-secondary education and networking into the workforce, ensuring that they can achieve influential leadership positions in the process.

Project Accelerate was funded by Equality Can’t Wait, an initiative launched by Pivotal Ventures, Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation enterprise, to expedite progress toward gender equality in the U.S. The initiative garnered additional support from Mackenzie Scott and The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, awarding $40 million to the organizations or coalitions of organizations offering the most compelling proposals to help expand women’s empowerment and influence in the U.S. by 2030. Read More.

  • Discover ways to engage with your workforce pipeline earlier
  • Scale career awareness and pathway access, especially for the underserved
  • Gain a competitive advantage for recruitment supported by meaningful data