Winner of Third Annual John P. McNulty Prize Announced

November 5, 2010

Contact: Jeff Harris
The Aspen Institute
Tel. 202-736-3848

Jamie Shor
PR Collaborative
Tel. 202-339-9598

$100,000 Award Given to Aspen Global Leadership Fellow and Rocketship Education Co-Founder – John Danner

New York City, NY, November 5, 2010–– The Aspen Institute and Anne Welsh McNulty, Institute Trustee, are pleased to announce that the third annual John P. McNulty Prize has been awarded to John Danner of San Jose, California, co-founder of Rocketship Education, a national network of high-performing elementary charter schools whose mission is to eliminate the income achievement gap. In celebration of the spirit and memory of Institute Trustee John P. McNulty, the $100,000 prize recognizes an extraordinary young leader from within the Aspen Global Leadership Network who is making creative, effective, and lasting contributions to his or her community. Additional prizes of $10,000 were awarded to four other finalists.

Danner, along with the four other finalists, was selected by a distinguished panel of judges including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Olara Otunnu, International Statesman from Uganda. While their reasons were many, Rocketship was chosen in part because it offers a bold new education formula at a time when it is necessary to achieve far better results with far fewer resources than ever before.

“My husband John regularly dared those around him to think in terms of higher order of magnitude,” said Anne Welsh McNulty. “With his audacious vision of giving thousands of underserved kids across the nation access to a top-tier Rocketship education, John Danner is pushing charter schools and public education as a whole to think about impact at another scale entirely.”

As the winner of the McNulty Prize, Danner will be able to use the $100,000 award to help further Rocketship Education’s mission: to drive world-class student achievement, regardless of family income level, and to enable children to graduate from 5th grade with excellent preparation for a successful pathway to college. Rocketship students’ outstanding test scores have demonstrated the power and potential of this breakthrough educational approach.

John Danner’s deep knowledge of technology, his success in establishing thriving entrepreneurial organizations, and his deep and abiding commitment to eliminating the income achievement gap, have all contributed to the core ingredients for success at Rocketship. Rocketship is pioneering the transformative hybrid school model, which augments outstanding classroom teaching with an innovative combination of tutors and technology to individualize learning in order to meet the specific needs of each and every student. A key differentiator of Rocketship’s hybrid school model is that online learning reinforces students’ core skills acquisition, which enables teachers to use classroom time to strengthen students’ critical thinking skills.

Since 2006, Rocketship has grown to serve 1,500 students at three locations in San Jose, California, and plans to expand to serve 15,000 students at thirty schools by 2015.

“On behalf of all my Rocketship colleagues, I’m delighted and honored to accept the McNulty Prize,” said John Danner. “This award further supports our commitment to address our nation’s education crisis by building a scalable network of K-5 charter schools dedicated to serving the needs of each and every student via individualized learning. By enhancing great classroom teaching with our hybrid learning model, we can eliminate the income achievement gap with schools that demonstrate both academic and operational excellence.”

Before co-founding Rocketship in 2006, Danner’s career in education included working for the successful passage of Tennessee’s 2002 charter school law, founding and directing the high-performing KIPP Academy Nashville, co-founding the Sacred Heart Nativity School in San Jose, and teaching second graders with limited proficiency in the Nashville public schools. Prior to his work in education, Danner was founder and CEO of NetGravity, an early market leader in Internet advertising software. While CEO, Danner led the company through its successful IPO and subsequent sale to Doubleclick in 1999. Danner holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a Master’s Degree in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University. He is an Ashoka Fellow, and a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

The McNulty Prize is awarded annually to an Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN) Fellow. Fellows are selected because they are values-base leaders who represent John McNulty’s entrepreneurial spirit while applying their talent and innovation toward making a difference on some of the worlds most pressing problems. This year’s other finalists were Mehrdad Baghai, who founded the High Resolves Initiative in Sydney, Australia; Amit Bhatia, founder of Aspire Human Capital Management in Gurgaon, Haryana, India; Diego de Sola, who created Glasswing International in San Salvador, El Salvador; and Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of the Acumen Fund Fellows based in New York City.

For more information about John McNulty’s legacy of leadership and to view a video about Rocketship, please visit

Further videos may been viewed at

The Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN) is a growing, worldwide community of entrepreneurial leaders from business, government and the nonprofit sector—currently 1200 “Fellows” from 43 countries—who share a commitment to enlightened leadership and to using their extraordinary creativity, energy and resources to tackle the foremost societal challenges of our times. All share the common experience of participating in the Henry Crown Fellowship or one of the dozen Aspen Institute leadership initiatives it has inspired in the United States, Africa, Central America, India and the Middle East.

Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners.


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