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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

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

Welcome Zach Levine, Learning to Teach EIR

How are we meant to prepare our children for a harder future when we don’t have enough teachers, let alone qualified ones, to inspire them? This is a crisis. A crisis of both quantity and quality of the most important ingredient for a first-rate education system. Fortunately many have heeded the call and are working hard to address this serious but solvable issue, including our new Learning to Teach Entrepreneur in Residence, Zach Levine. I’m thrilled to welcome Zach to NewSchools and thankful that he’s working with us to found ElevatED, a new nonprofit that adds to the shared mission of NewSchools and our partners to improve STEM education by building a cadre of great STEM teachers. Read more

NewSchools Invests in Accelerator to Elevate Leaders of Color

It is often stated that education is the civil rights issue of our time. While there are many aspects related to equity in education that need to be addressed, a particular area of concern for NewSchools is the lack of racial diversity in leadership roles representing the very communities we serve. In a step toward change, NewSchools is pleased to be working with Carmita Vaughan on a leadership accelerator to identify, train and provide career counsel to emerging leaders of color in the education reform movement. Read more

Book Smarts vs Street Smarts: aka Edtech Founders as Action Researchers

Last week I was in Boston visiting two of our portfolio companies, BetterLesson and Socrative. Spending time with entrepreneurs is, by far, the best part of my job. I’m always moved by the passion of our entrepreneurs. As always, Ben Berte (Socrative) and Alex Grodd (BetterLesson) left me inspired by their commitment to supporting teachers. However, in this visit, I took away a new appreciation for how technology products are moving beyond just teacher productivity and into deeper issues of instruction and teacher learning. Read more