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Redesigning Schools for Today’s Students and Beyond

Over the last few years, the education community has heard plenty of buzz about the growth in education technology and digital learning. For instance, as New Schools’ Seed Fund team highlighted in a December blog, overall investment in ed tech companies once again rose significantly in 2014. And since last October when the White House launched Future Ready, an effort to support school districts and charter networks as they incorporate more digital […] Read more

Investment Approaches of the Seed Fund – Part III

Tools to Differentiate Instruction in a One-Size-Fits-All Education SystemLast weekend, I sat in a sewing class with my ten year old daughter and was surprised to learn that ⅓ of our day would be dedicated to programming our sewing machines. The room full of women, most over sixty years old, happily embraced the automation of tasks like embroidery now possible thanks to the software running their machines. Marc Andreesen is right – Software […] Read more

Where are K-12 Edtech Venture Backed Startups Based?

This is the first post in a series to spotlight trends in K-12 edtech venture funding data.Advantageous location of a startup is no substitute for a great product or entrepreneur, but it may increase the odds of success. In edtech, early success for a startup often hinges on access to talent, early-stage funding, high-quality accelerators, research partnerships and innovation-friendly school districts.According to year-to-date K-12 edtech venture funding data provided by EdSurge, the […] Read more

Investment Approaches of the Seed Fund- Part II

Last week I shared some of our thinking behind our investments in STEM, relevance and communication, found here. With this post, I’ll share our approach for investing in special education and english language learning.Specialized Tools Can Better Reach Children Outside of the Mainstream While traditional venture capital has backed consumer-oriented english language learning tools like Rosetta Stone, Livemocha and more recently, mobile apps like Duolingo, we take a very different approach. We target tools for […] Read more

Brooke Breaks New Ground in Student Achievement

Students at Brooke Charter Schools are 98% black and Latino. Across Brooke’s three Boston campuses, 80% of students qualify for free or reduced price lunches, indicating their families are close to the federal poverty line.Skeptics argue that economic disadvantages, like the disadvantages faced by the students at Brooke, account for intractable gaps in academic performance between blacks and Latinos and students from white and Asian backgrounds. Brooke shows that this achievement gap […] Read more

UP Shakes Up District Instruction

In 2008, Scott Given left his position as Principal at Excel Academy Charter School in East Boston, Massachusetts. Like many other entrepreneurs, Given left his job to pursue a big idea – to bring the best practices of high-performing charter schools like Excel Academy into district schools. Given’s vision was striking because of the significantly different contexts in which school districts and the charter sector operate. According to conventional wisdom, the district […] Read more

Youth UpRising: Changing a Community, One Young Person at a Time

In the Castlemont neighborhood of East Oakland, one in four people live in poverty. The teenage pregnancy rate is three times the Alameda County average. Homicide is the leading cause of death for residents aged 14-24. These are grim statistics, but there is hope for neighborhood change.A local Castlemont nonprofit, Youth UpRising, is set on revitalizing the neighborhood by investing in its young people. At the Youth UpRising center, youth make music, […] Read more

TinyTap Taps into Educational Games and Interactive Lessons

 Just as indie coders can create hot new apps, teachers and students can develop educational content with widespread appeal. However, teachers and students often face technological barriers to producing and distributing great content. TinyTap, a platform for creating interactive lessons and educational games, solves this problem: TinyTap allows anyone to easily create and share engaging educational materials.When you open the TinyTap app, you are prompted to either create new lessons and games or to […] Read more

Real Pain Points, Real Solutions: Oakland Startup Weekend Education

When we met Nina Portugal two weeks ago at a Teach For America information session about Oakland’s first-ever Startup Weekend EDU, she described the specific struggles of her long-term English learner students at Castlemont High School in Oakland. Nina was on the fence about pitching her idea in front of hundreds of strangers, but eventually joined the other 32 brave souls who pitched ideas to improve education. Little did Nina expect that over the course of just 54 hours, her team, Rock Your Voice, would create a product she could put to use on Monday morning in her classroom. Nina now has a voice transcription tool to better assess her students’ language and literacy skills. Read more

Video: NewSchools Entrepreneurs Celebrate Our Work Together in This Holiday Video

It is that time of year when we reflect on what occurred in the past and what we have in front of us in the future. This year, we thought we’d let our entrepreneurs do the talking for us. As a whole, the entrepreneurs in NewSchools portfolio embody what Nelson Mandela encouraged all people to strive for in their lives when he said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others…” Read more