December 30, 2009 by  

Teachermate:TeacherMate is a literacy program focused on hand-held computers that are equipped with special software in English and Spanish. TeacherMate had been launched by Evanston foundation, Innovations for Learning, and now serving about 30,000 underprivileged students in 15 states.

Nonprofits benefit from for-profit practices

While new research from the University of Illinois at Chicago indicates the hand-held gadgets improve students’ reading scores, the program also receives high marks for cost efficiency. By contracting with a Chinese manufacturer to produce the devices, Seth Weinberger said, he can price the TeacherMate system at $100, which includes reading and math software for kindergarten through second grade. That’s less than the cost of textbooks over the same period, he said.

Weinberger, an attorney at Mayer Brown who also serves as president of the foundation, adopted best practices from the for-profit arena to expand the nonprofit. In 2010, he plans to make the literacy software available as an iPhone app, boosting efficiencies and extending the software’s reach to more children.

Unlike many for-profit startups whose plans have been curtailed by the credit crunch, Innovations for Learning has had a steady stream of funding.

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