The ESG Initiative at the Wharton School
WIVA’s Latest Deal Aims to Improve Learning Outcomes for Indigenous Students
Students at the ESG Initiative’s Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA) excited to connect 7 Generation Games (7GG), an education technology startup, to the crowdfunding platform WeFunder.
7GG was born when researchers, including co-founder Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, analyzed the learning outcomes of Native American and Alaskan Native students. They observed that these Indigenous students were underperforming compared to other students across the United States, and that existing approaches to change the outcomes were not yielding results. Digging deeper into the research, they hypothesized that integrating familiar language and culture into math education could improve test outcomes.
Dr. De Mars teamed up with her daughter, Maria Burns Ortiz, to deliver this idea through educational video games, and created 7GG with the goal of integrating culture, diversity, equity, and inclusivity into classroom learning. As an example, 7GG brings Dakota language and Lakota heritage into its games and lessons. In one game, players learn how the Dakota survived the harsh winters on the plains before navigating a maze-like game to collect enough firewood to keep their tipi warm and make it back to camp. In another, players catch fish, then need to determine if the fishing in the area is getting worse.
From navigating through the Mayan jungle 800 years ago to catching up with family at a present-day powwow, the games embed academic instruction and assessment within interactive video games where applying learning in context is the key to succeeding. If players need help, they can get hints on how to solve problems, and wrong answers lead to further explanation as opposed to just more problems.
A number of the games are bilingual allowing players to control the language of instruction – audio, video and text – on every screen, including games in Spanish, Lakota, and Dakota with more Indigenous-language games coming out this school year.
Children who played games developed using the 7GG technology saw their learning outcomes improve 30% in 10 weeks – a 3-fold improvement compared to the control group – in multiyear, peer-reviewed, federally funded efficacy studies. The technology behind these games formed the foundation of the company’s 7 Gen Blocks platform.
Wharton MBA students Radhika Deb Roy, WG’23, and Caroline Banwell, WG’23, who sourced the opportunity for the WIVA program, shared how their personal experiences matched the mission of 7GG: “For both of us, having grown up for a significant amount of time in more remote environments such as Seychelles and Alaska, we understand the power of being represented and growing up with role models that inspire us. Having researched the opportunity in detail, we see the potential of 7GG to impart not only hard skills to indigenous children but also soft skills such as perseverance and grit.”
Beyond the impact, the student team was incredibly impressed with the potential for strong financial returns. WIVA students are taught to research and evaluate the financial sustainability of businesses. Among other things, the students considered 7GG’s 120,000 registered users and string growth. 7GG has also leveraged $2.3 million dollars in non-dilutive grant funding to create their foundational technology, which has supported 20 games so far.
In co-founder Maria Burns Ortiz’s own words: “Everything we do at 7 Generation Games is about empowering communities, from empowering students through educational games that reflect their lives and experiences to empowering game developers by removing technical barriers. We are so excited to have the support of WIVA for our community round. We are excited to continue growing our company and serving communities that have been overlooked and underserved for far too long.”
FOR MORE INFO, CHECK OUT 7GG’S WEBSITE AND THEIR ONGOING FUNDING CAMPAIGN ON WEFUNDER HERE.
Neither the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School, Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA), nor any of their respective students, faculty, directors, officers, employees, representatives, affiliates, or agents (collectively, the “Penn Parties”) (i) is acting as underwriter, broker-dealer, promoter, financial advisor, or other intermediary with respect to any offering of securities by any entity mentioned in this article, or (ii) has received or will receive any compensation from any person or entity as an incentive to publish of this article. In addition, the Penn Parties have not received and will not receive any compensation or other item of value in connection with any possible or future investment in any securities issued by any entity mentioned herein.
Any research or diligence described above (i) was performed by WIVA solely for its own, limited, educational purposes, and not for the purpose of aiding any person in making any investment decision, and (ii) may be limited and incomplete, by its very nature, as a result of limited publicly available information and other limited information voluntarily made available to WIVA. No Penn Party shall have any liability whatsoever arising from any error or incompleteness of fact or opinion in, or lack of care in the preparation or publication of, this article.
Copyright ©2022 the Wharton School. All rights reserved. The information, methodologies, data and opinions contained or reflected herein are proprietary of the Wharton School and/or its students, are intended for non-commercial use, and may not be copied, distributed or used in any way, including via citation, unless otherwise explicitly agreed in writing. They are provided for informational purposes only and (1) do not constitute investment or financial advice; (2) cannot be interpreted as an offer, indication, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any securities or to undertake any kind of business transactions; (3) do not represent an assessment of any issuer’s economic performance, financial obligations nor of its creditworthiness; and (4) are not a substitute for a professional financial, legal, and tax advice.