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Modern States Education Alliance Recognized as Yass Prize Quarterfinalist

Considered the “Pulitzer of Education Innovation”, Awards Program Recognizes Organizations Driving Educational Improvement

Modern States Education Alliance (“Modern States”), the nation’s leading philanthropy dedicated to making a college degree more affordable and accessible for everyone, today announced it is a Yass Prize 2023 Quarterfinalist. Modern States is among 64 organizations in the education space being acknowledged.

The $1 million Yass Prize for Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless (STOP) education is regarded as the “Pulitzer of Education Innovation”. Yass is a rapidly growing effort to find, reward, celebrate and expand best-in-class education organizations from every sector, in every state, and to create unprecedented partnerships that accelerate impact with the speed and urgency students deserve. The Yass Prize awards $20 million annually to support and honor education leaders who achieve excellence.

“The mission of Modern States is to remove barriers to higher education. I am honored that the Yass Prize is recognizing our work,” said Steve Klinsky, founder and CEO of Modern States. “Being selected a quarterfinalist from among thousands of organizations celebrates our efforts to ensure a college degree is within reach for everyone.”

Launched in 2017, Modern States offers a “public library” of 32 high-quality, tuition-free online courses, available to everyone at The courses are taught by some of the nation’s leading university professors and are specially designed to help learners earn college credit by preparing them for the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. The College Board has offered CLEP exams for over 50 years, and more than 2,900 colleges and universities across the country accept a passing score on a CLEP exam for credit. Modern States also covers the cost of taking CLEP exams for learners who complete its free courses, as part of its mission to make a college education accessible to all people regardless of their financial circumstances. To date, Modern States has paid for approximately 150,000 CLEP exams.

“Modern States is not only unconventional in its ethos and work, but it shares a passion and commitment to finding new solutions to long-standing educational challenges,” said Jeanne Allen, director of the Yass Foundation for Education and founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, which manages the effort.

Thirty-one states are represented among the 64 awardees, which were selected through an intensive, three-tier process. This year’s Yass Prize Quarterfinalists represent a microcosm of 21st century, personalized approaches that better educate students, pre-K and beyond. They include in-person, hybrid and online approaches, and some schools that offer all three; educational metaverses and AI-driven organizations adding important dimensions to address individualized student needs and education technology organizations with substantive solutions to declining student achievement.

The Yass Prize Semi-finalists will be announced later this month.

About The Yass Foundation
The Yass Foundation for Education advances the four core STOP principles: Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding, and Permissionless education. Each year, the Foundation will reward at least 64 education organizations, building a growing network of innovative providers that demonstrate these qualities in their commitment to new ideas, technologies, and approaches to learning that bring education into the 21st century. The Foundation is powered by the Center for Education Reform (CER) in partnership with Forbes.

About Modern States Education Alliance
Modern States is a NYC-based philanthropy dedicated to making a college degree more affordable and accessible for everyone. Its flagship “Freshman Year for Free” program offers more than 30 free online college courses taught by top university professors that are available to anyone with an Internet connection. Students can use these courses to earn college credits by preparing for and taking credit-bearing CLEP exams, as offered by the College Board, and accepted by more than 2,900 colleges. Learn more at

A photo accompanying this announcement is available here.

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