Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disease, characterized by motor neuron (MN) death, for which there are no truly effective treatments. Here, we describe a new small molecule survival screen carried out using MNs from both wild-type and mutant SOD1 mouse embryonic stem cells. Among the hits we found, kenpaullone had a particularly impressive ability to prolong the healthy survival of both types of MNs that can be attributed to its dual inhibition of GSK-3 and HGK kinases. Furthermore, kenpaullone also strongly improved the survival of human MNs derived from ALS-patient-induced pluripotent stem cells and was more active than either of two compounds, olesoxime and dexpramipexole, that recently failed in ALS clinical trials. Our studies demonstrate the value of a stem cell approach to drug discovery and point to a new paradigm for identification and preclinical testing of future ALS therapeutics.