National Innovators Vie for Prestigious $1 Million Education Award

Semifinalists to each receive $200,000

WASHINGTON, DC –  On October 10, 2023, the 33 Semifinalists competing for the $1 million Yass Prize for Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless Education were announced at a special celebration in Cleveland, Ohio, after participating with other recognized education innovators in the inaugural Yass Summit held at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The following 9 national organizations were named Semifinalists for the 2023 Yass Prize:

  • Be More Colorful (Fargo, ND) was selected as a Semifinalist for its innovative immersive media and virtual reality production studio. Its CareerViewXR (CVXR) is a platform for career exploration by students – through interactive field trips and job shadow experiences – that can be accessed from any internet-connected device. The $1 million Yass Prize would enable CareerViewXR to deploy a web-app allowing CareerViewXR to be purchased by schools and families with limited resources, as well as create new partnerships with national employers to allow even greater student access.
  • The Cristo Rey Network (Chicago, IL) was selected as a Semifinalist for its innovative approach in growing over the last 27 years from one school in southwest Chicago to a national network of 39 high schools enrolling 12,300 students and claiming 25,000 alumni. Serving youths from families in the lowest income quartile, Cristo Rey schools blend rigorous academics with professional work experience. Should they win the $1 million Yass Prize, Cristo Rey would more rapidly scale new and evolving trends in the workplace and continue to pursue its goal of enrolling 20,000 students in 50 schools.
  • The National Fellowship for Black and Latino Male Educators (Brooklyn, NY) was selected as a Semifinalist for its innovative efforts to address the extreme underrepresentation of Black and Latino men in America’s education community. The students and families that are served by the Fellowship’s educators are almost entirely composed of low socioeconomic status and predominantly Black and Latino. Should they win the $1 million Yass Prize, their network would expand.
  • Odyssey (New York, NY) was selected as a Semifinalist for its innovative approach in helping families successfully navigate applying for state funding through Education Saving Accounts and microgrants, empowering parents to make informed and intentional decisions about their students’ education, while providing states with a platform that delivers funds quickly and securely. Should they win the $1 million Yass Prize, Odyssey would scale its platform to more states, focusing primarily on Arizona, Arkansas, Florida and New Hampshire, and continue to build out and refine the platform.
  • OnYourMark Education (San Diego, CA) was selected as a Semifinalist for its innovative approach in providing individualized literacy tutoring that is revolutionizing the way students learn to read. OnYourMark takes science-grounded virtual instruction and combines it with high quality materials and best-in-class training to implement tutoring during the school day. Should they win the $1 million Yass Prize, OnYourMark would, over the next three years, extend its tutoring reach to as many as 10,000 students across 100 school partners.
  • Optima Academy Online (Naples, FL) was selected as a Semifinalist for its unique, high-quality liberal arts curriculum featuring a classical approach to education in a virtual reality (VR) learning space. Should they win the $1 million Yass Prize, Optima Academy Online would institute expansion efforts targeting underserved communities and regions with limited access to quality education; enhance its VR platform; ensure access and affordability; and work to influence policies that support innovative educational approaches and foster a more inclusive and flexible learning ecosystem. 
  • Sora Schools (Atlanta, GA) was selected as a Semifinalist for its innovative approach in creating a progressive, interdisciplinary, mastery-based, online middle and high school based on students’ own interests. Should they win the $1 million Yass Prize, Sora Schools will develop additional products and create a free version of Sora’s curriculum so all can access it. It would also allow for more in-person learning experiences in the cities with the highest student density.
  • Thales Academy (Raleigh, NC), a network of private PreK-12 schools, was selected as a Semifinalist for its approach to combining modern management principles with proven pedagogical methods to deliver an exceptional, well-rounded education at an affordable cost. Should they win the $1million Yass Prize, Thales will expand its operations to more communities and develop a classical-compliant Mathematics program, i.e. one that encourages discovery through replication of the experiments and problems from which scientific knowledge is derived.
  • VictoryXR (Davenport, IA) was selected as a Semifinalist for its innovative approach as an education content creator that provides schools and homeschool families with dynamic immersive content with  numerous interactive simulations for students including science experiments, CTE training, history lessons, literature environments, and more. Should they win the $1 million Yass Prize, VictoryXR would expand their offerings to more areas of learning.

“Our winners have all demonstrated the capacity to over-perform for underserved students,” said Janine Yass, co-founder and president of The Yass Prize. “Their common sense approaches are helping students achieve success academically and in life. We know they will inspire a new kind of activism for delivering education for the 21st century.”

In addition to each receiving $200,000 as they compete for the $1 million prize, the 33 awardees will participate in a fast-paced business Accelerator with access to leading experts and make their final pitch at the end of November.  In addition to the grand prize, 8 finalists, who will each receive $500,000 will be announced December 13, in New York City.


The Yass Prize is powered by the Center for Education Reform, in partnership with Forbes is a rapidly growing effort to find, reward, celebrate and expand best-in-class education organizations from every sector. In conjunction with the $1 million Yass Prize, the STOP Awards Initiative will distribute nearly $20 million in 2023 to organizations in its network. Learn more at

Media Inquiries
Contact us for any media inquiries and a representative will get back to you shortly!

At OnYourMark we want all children to have access to high quality, foundational skill instruction and become thriving readers.