A Closer Look

The Problem:

Eighty percent of all jobs created in the next decade will require significant math and science skills. Yet, for many American students, especially from low-income families, access to high-quality science and math education is out of reach.  Science education in the United States has largely been reserved for “gifted and talented” students, through selected admission magnet schools.  The United States must create a new inclusive approach to STEM education to re-capture global educational and economic leadership.

The Innovation:

The founding team of DSST Public Schools, led by Bill Kurtz, a former principal, set out to create learning communities that would increase the number of low-income and minority students who attain college degrees and are prepared to pursue careers in science, math, engineering, and technology. To accomplish this goal, the DSST team focused on five program elements:

  • A commitment to student racial and economic diversity;
  • Consistent program focus on preparing students for academic and social success in four-year colleges;
  • A relentless focus on student academic growth;
  • A focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM); and
  • Embedding and leveraging technology throughout all aspects of the program.

The Results:

DSST Public Schools currently serves over 1,000 students in three schools on two campuses. At scale, DSST will serve 4,200 students and will double the number of four- year college-ready students graduating from Denver Public Schools (DPS) by 2020. DSST: Stapleton is widely considered one of the leading open enrollment STEM schools in the country, and is the second highest performing secondary school in DPS based on growth and performance. One hundred percent of Stapleton graduates have been accepted to college, where only 4 percent require remedial courses, in comparison to 56 percent for the Denver district.  One in three graduates has chosen to pursue a STEM major in college. By providing access to STEM education and professions, DSST Public Schools is breaking the poverty cycle for students in Denver.

How NewSchools Helped:

NewSchools Venture Fund partnership with DSST began with a grant in January 2009 to help them build their home office operations. “New Schools Venture Fund has been a true partner to DSST Public Schools, providing technical assistance, access to a shared best practices from other NSVF portfolio members, and steady guidance as a thought partner,” says Bill Kurtz, CEO of DSST Public Schools.

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Entrepreneur
Bill Kurtz
Founded
2001
Financial Model
Nonprofit
NewSchools Investment
$1,345,000

Team Board Members

  1. Deborah McGriff

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