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Social Entrepreneurs Try to Offer Solutions to K-12 Problems

Competition for financial backing is intense

“These people are fueled by passion, drive, and commitment, and we can see evidence of their work all over the educational landscape,” Jennifer Carolan, the seed fund co-director at the NewSchools Venture Fund, based in Oakland, Calif., said of social entrepreneurs. “They’re making meaningful social change—we often say they’re trying to scratch their own itch—and putting pressure on the existing entrenched system to start doing the same.”

The nonprofit NewSchools uses philanthropic capital to support entrepreneurs who are aiming to transform public education, particularly in areas that would help underserved or low-income children. Extremely selective, NewSchools finances just a small portion of the ideas it considers; between 10 and 15 entrepreneurs with education technology proposals apply for funding each week, yet the nonprofit’s seed fund makes only six to 10 investments each year. NewSchools chooses to be selective because the seed fund invests in early-stage companies, which have the highest rate of failure. The total investments for 2012 will be about $1.5 million.

[Read the entire article at Education Week]