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NewSchools Recognizes Top Entrepreneurs and Innovators for their Contributions to Public Education

NewSchools Venture Fund announces 2014 honorees for its Annual Leaders in Education Awards 

Burlingame, Calif. – April 29, 2014 – NewSchools Venture Fund (www.newschools.org), a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that partners with entrepreneurs to provide all students with an excellent public education and the promise of a bright future, announces the recipients of its 2014 Awards. Since 2002, NewSchools has celebrated the achievements of social innovators in its portfolio by presenting annual awards to outstanding entrepreneurs and organizations.

“These innovators exemplify the leadership and values that NewSchools seeks in its portfolio,” said Deborah Mintz, Chief Advancement Officer of NewSchools. “Each awardee is making a measurable difference for students in underserved communities all over the country and many of them are changing the way teaching and learning happen in public schools.”

Ten entrepreneurs, social innovators, and organizations were given awards in these categories: Organization of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Learning to Teach Impact Award, Seed Fund Impact Award, and the City Funds Awards. The awards are presented on the eve of NewSchools’ annual Summit, which brings together nearly 1,000 education entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and policymakers for a day of celebration, learning, and inspiration.

Organization of the Year

The Organization of the Year Award recognizes an entrepreneurial organization that has reached dramatic, measurable results over the past year, in closing the achievement gap. This year’s award goes to EdSurge, which aims to help educators discover the best products and how to use them, and inspires developers to build what educators and learners need.

“EdSurge is the go-to, trusted source for education technology. They are uniquely positioned between edtech and educators – offering teachers the resources they need to introduce technology into classrooms with confidence and providing  investors and developers with up to the minute information on the latest innovations” said Jennifer Carolan, NewSchools’ Seed Fund managing director.

Entrepreneur of the Year

Reid Saaris, executive director at the Equal Opportunity Schools, is receiving the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which recognizes talented leaders exhibiting creativity and flexibility in pursuing their goal of closing the achievement gap.

“We’re so grateful to receive this award,” said Saaris. “NewSchools has been an incredible support to us over the years; and thanks in significant part to that support, this year our partner high schools will have moved more than 10,000 low-income students and students of color up to advanced academic levels.”

Learning to Teach Impact Award

The 2014 Learning to Teach Impact Award recognizes TeachLive, a mixed reality teaching environment, that supports prospective and current teacher practice in both pedagogy and content. TeachLive simulates a classroom experience – much like a flight simulator where teachers are able to hone their skills and learn in a low-stakes, virtual environment. The Learning to Teach Award rewards teacher preparation that connects teachers to opportunities for real world practice.

Seed Fund Impact Award

Rob Mancabelli & Hisham Anwar are receiving the Seed Fund Impact Award on behalf of BrightBytes for their collection and analysis of data measuring technology’s impact on student achievement. Based on BrightBytes’ analysis, schools receive customized roadmaps for improvement, as well as the resources to put the plan into action; government entities receive measurements of progress that ensure accountability and target spending; and ed-tech providers receive evidence of their products’ effectiveness, along with data on the products and services needed throughout the system.

City Funds Awards

The City Funds Awards are recognizing the growth of entrepreneurial organizations that improve education in specific low-income communities. The 2014 City Funds Impact Award goes to Ryan Hill from TEAM Charter Schools as well as Kimberly Steadman and Jon Clark at the Edward Brooke Charter Schools. TEAM Charter Schools is a high-performing charter school organization with four schools and 1,500 students in Newark, NJ.  The Edward Brooke Charter Schools serves 475 Boston Public Schools students in grades K-8 in Roslindale, Mass.

The City Funds Entrepreneur to Watch Award is going to Nicole Baker Fulgham at The Expectations Project. Currently operating in Indianapolis and Washington, DC, The Expectations Project partners with faith-motivated individuals, leaders, congregations and organizations to develop local and national campaigns that help enact transformational change for low-income public schools.  

Ken Berrick, from the Seneca Family of Agencies, is accepting the City Funds Organization to Watch Award. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif, Seneca’s Unconditional Education approach highlights innovative ways of partnering with school leadership to build school-wide practices and systems focused on early identification and intervention of students whose needs are not being addressed. Seneca’s approach also focuses on ways to strengthen schools as they support students before they fail. 

About NewSchools

NewSchools Venture Fund is a venture philanthropy that partners with entrepreneurs to provide all students —regardless of where they come from or live – with an excellent public education and the promise of a bright future. Since NewSchools’ founding in 1998, more than $200 million have been raised and invested in a national portfolio of entrepreneurial ventures, including charter management organizations, teacher preparation programs, and educational technology companies. These investments have improved educational outcomes for more than 15 million students. To learn more, please visit: www.newschools.org