2013 MARKED NEWSCHOOLS' 15TH YEAR OF INVESTING IN EDUCATION ENTREPRENEURS, who are working to provide high quality K-12 education to underserved students and to fundamentally transform public education systems throughout the United States. These visionary leaders embody New Schools' belief that neither individual students nor their communities nor our country as a whole will prosper, unless all of America's children are afforded equal access to world class educational opportunities.
IN THE DECADE AND A HALF SINCE OUR FOUNDING, NewSchools has invested more than $250 million in entrepreneur-driven education reform. Together with our entrepreneurs we have shown that all children, in the right school environment and with the right teaching resources, can attain high levels of academic achievement. While many still contend that poverty, race and other disadvantages are intractable obstacles to educational success, NewSchools' portfolio companies offer compelling proof that this is not true.
THANKS TO THE GENEROSITY OF OUR DONORS, we invested $18 million in 47 ventures in 2013. Looking to 2014 and beyond, we recognize that we are at an inflection point in our work. More than 40 states have now adopted Common Core State Standards that raise the bar for all students and pave the way for a new wave of innovation in teaching and learning. NewSchools looks forward to partnering with entrepreneurs to meet this exciting challenge.
OUR REPORT THIS YEAR shares stories and statistics that illustrate how NewSchools' strategies—scaling high performing charter organizations, training a new generation of teachers and seeding new education technology tools—are having a positive impact on students and education systems across the country. We invite you to read further and discover how your support is making a real and important difference in student lives.
"Aspire taught me to never lose sight of my purpose. I have the heart to serve populations that look like me and have similar backgrounds."
Aspire Public Schools was one of the first investments made by NewSchools Venture Fund. As an organization, we are now marking our 15-year anniversary of supporting entrepreneurs to fix what's broken in our education ecosystem. We took some time to check in with Rena to find out how our early investment in Aspire impacted her academic and professional path.
For Rena, growing up in East Oakland was not always easy. When her relationship with her mother became strained, she was raised by her 15-year-old cousin. Rena sought mentorship from her teachers at Aspire to augment what was missing in her home. "In the beginning I was quite stubborn and a lazy student," Rena said. But her 8th grade teacher, Megan Reed, saw potential in her, assigning books like "The Poisonwood Bible" to stretch her. "I needed to be challenged and they gave me opportunities that would continue to push me."
At Aspire, all students are expected to attend college, and Rena applied to 21 colleges. When the acceptance letter finally arrived from Fisk University in Nashville, TN, Rena immediately put the letter in her handbag and took the train over to the school. When she showed the letter to Ms. Reed, her teacher promptly photocopied it and hung it on her wall.
Today, Rena has just completed her first year of teacher residency at Match Education in Boston. She will teach fourth grade English at UP Holland this upcoming fall, 2014, and looks forward to serving as a mentor to her students just as her teachers at Aspire did for her. "I definitely know I want to be a mentor to my students. And to communicate to them that anything is possible."