Educ845 Announces Scholarship Competition Winners

Educ845, a local non-profit organization, held an inaugural scholarship competition for seniors at John Jay High School. The competitions, which run throughout the school year, enable groups of two to four high school seniors to compete for a $5,000 college scholarship. Their task: Create a solution that improves the high school student experience.  Educ845 worked with over ten teams on business ideas ranging from improving access to clean, renewable water sources at the high school, to a mobile platform that gauges students’ understanding in classroom topics and schedules 1-1 time with the teachers for extra help.

This year’s winner of the $5,000 prize was SchoolMe, led by Mike Pergolizzi and Chris Callaghan. Mike and Chris, who will be attending Villanova and Virginia Tech, respectively, introduced a mobile app that improves communication between students and extracurricular clubs & activities. They pitched their solution to a panel of five judges which included school administration, a successful real estate accountant alumnus, a Marshall & Sterling executive, and an angel investor from Cambridge, MA.

“The biggest thing that made SchoolMe a success was our ability to plan and be proactive,” explained Pergolizzi. “We developed an idea early, made sure to stay on task for the duration of the competition, and created our presentation well in advance so we could practice and make sure we really drove our points home.”

Each of the teams attended a series of workshops hosted by Educ845 over the course of the year that helped them form, develop, market, and pitch their business ideas. During these sessions, the foundation brought in two John Jay alumni – Patrick Ambron ‘05, CEO of BrandYourself and Jenny Sussin ‘05, VP at Gartner Research – as well as a tenured Duke University marketing professor, to help guide the students’ thinking and introduce them to a network of professionals.

“Our partnership with Educ845 has opened the door for incredible development opportunities for our graduating seniors,” said John Jay Principal, Bonnie King. “After an impressive inaugural year, we look forward to expanding this opportunity for more seniors in years to come.”

Over the last year, three John Jay High School Alumni - Nolan Kartholl, John McMahon and Mitri Najjar –combined their passion for business acumen to create the Educ845 Foundation. Recognizing an opportunity to offer experiential business learning to high school students, the foundation seeks to promote analytical problem-solving skills and ignite educational and professional curiosity by hosting innovation competitions. 

Educ845 is excited to continue its success next year at John Jay High School and expects to branch out to other schools in the coming years. “The creativity and entrepreneurial desire of millennials is extraordinary,” says Educ845 co-founder, Nolan Kartholl, “We’re trying to introduce a structure and approach to problem-solving that will accelerate their ability to make an impact."

To learn more about The Educ845 Foundation or to get involved, please visit

Educ845 Participants

Educ845 Winners