Submit your boldest, biggest ideas for reimagining education

NewSchools Venture Fund is looking for educators, creators and visionaries who believe in the power and potential of reimagining learning.

NewSchools finds, funds and supports teams of educators and entrepreneurs whose bold ideas have the potential to achieve outstanding results for students. Nearly 18 months into a refreshed strategy, the organization is focused on investments and support in three specific areas:
Creating innovative schools
Building technology tools to better support student learning
Cultivating pipelines of diverse senior leaders in education

“Every young person deserves a school that meets them where they are and helps them develop and reach big goals,” said Stacey Childress, CEO, NewSchools Venture Fund. “Some in education believe our existing school models can do this if we all just try a little harder. We don’t see it that way. That’s why we support teams that are reimagining the learning experience to help students develop everything they need for long-term success.”

To support this vison, each of the NewSchools investment areas will launch new funding cycles on August 1. Information about each opportunity can be found at

While each investment area has a different and specific area of focus, all three complement the larger strategy of supporting a new generation of diverse leaders and entrepreneurs who are creating schools that work better for every student, with the tools and services they need to be successful. Each funding opportunity will also be augmented by management assistance and collaboration within a cohort of organizations that received funding.

The Innovative Schools team invests in a diverse portfolio of PreK-12 public schools – both district and charter – with an emphasis on approaches that personalize the learning experience and allow students to take greater ownership over their learning. Investments include new schools, redesigned schools, and partnerships with model providers. However, this particular funding opportunity will focus only on teams that are planning to launch a new school in the next 1-3 years.

“We believe academic content mastery is very important, but students need much more to be successful. We partner with teams of educators who embrace an expanded definition of success, which includes the full range of mindsets, skills and habits students need for success in college, career, and life,” said Scott Benson, managing partner, NewSchools Venture Fund.

Using a rigorous due diligence process, NewSchools will select the most promising teams for one of two types of investments. Teams in the planning phase can receive $100,000 – $200,000 to help refine their designs and prepare for launch. Teams that already have strong plans and are ready to launch can receive $200,000 – $700,000 to support their first two to three years of operation. Submissions are due in November.

The Tools & Services team invests in entrepreneurs who develop sophisticated tools and services schools need to tailor learning for students, and make the best use of teachers’ time and talents. While some segments of the ed tech market have grown rapidly in the last few years, some market segments are still lagging in innovation that meets critical student and teacher needs. Tools for English Language Learners (ELL) is one of those areas, and is the focus of this current funding challenge.

“There is a dearth of quality ELL tools, and the need has never been greater. When designing this challenge, we spoke directly with ELL teachers and students,” said Tonika Cheek Clayton, managing partner, NewSchools Venture Fund. “We also conducted rigorous market research and talked with experts to help us understand the specific ELL needs. ELL educators will help us determine which ventures to fund, because they have an invaluable perspective on student needs. Our goal is to attract and support the best entrepreneurs with great ideas for addressing gaps in the ELL tools that can help teachers meet their students’ needs.”

For this challenge, the team is seeking a diverse set of entrepreneurs to create exceptional ELL tools and services to support personalized learning for students, with submissions due by August 29, 2016. Funding is in the range of $50,000-$150,000, and ventures will be selected by mid-October.

The Diverse Leaders team is focused on closing the racial/ethnic demographic gap between the leaders of education organizations and the students they serve. They are working to build strong talent pipelines so Black and Latino leaders represent at least 30 percent of senior leadership and boards of directors in PreK-12 schools, education non-profits and education technology companies by 2020.

“Efforts to reimagine public education are greatly enhanced when they include leaders from the Black and Latino communities they were intended to serve. Many in our sector understand this, and I am proud that NewSchools is taking steps to address it,” said Frances Messano, managing partner, NewSchools Venture Fund. “When we diversify education senior leadership, research shows impact in several ways: more relevant solutions and stronger outcomes for students of color; increased innovation and creativity; and stronger organizations.”

This funding opportunity is open to entrepreneurs with ambitious ideas focused on advancing Black and Latino senior leadership in education. Ideas may include efforts to attract, recruit, develop, retain, and/or place diverse senior leaders, CEOs, founders, and board members, among many others. Funding is in the range of $50,000-$150,000, and submissions are due by September 16, 2016.

Laura Ascione

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