Innovative Schools

What will it take to reimagine learning? Most of today’s schools were built for a different time and purpose. We need new models that meet all students where they are, help them succeed, and inspire them to create a brighter future for us all.

Teams of educators across America are taking on this challenge.

Over the next five years, we will support the launch or redesign of innovative public schools – both district and charter. These schools will have a dramatic and lasting impact on the 100,000-150,000 students they serve annually.

We invest in a diverse community of PreK-12 public schools that emphasize personalization and support the development of student agency. They are helping students develop the full range of knowledge, skills, habits and mindsets needed for success over the course of their lives. They are designing their schools with their communities with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

We seek teams anywhere in the country with ambitious plans to launch new schools or redesign existing ones that embrace this student-centered vision of learning. We select the most promising teams and support them through the critical planning and early implementation phases.

Our Investment Strategies

NewSchools Invent

Through NewSchools Invent we invest in teams of educators who want to launch new, innovative schools that prepare young people to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves, their families, and their communities. We support early-stage charter organizations with their first and/or second schools. We also support district schools with the autonomy to use innovative instructional designs.

School Redesign

Do you have an innovative idea for redesigning a school in your district or charter network?

With 100,000 public schools in America, the greatest opportunity for wide-scale impact is to work within these existing schools. An increasing number of charter networks and school districts are exploring practices like blended instruction and competency-based progression while creating more personalization and student ownership.

We believe we can help early-stage projects continue evolving to become innovative models within existing schools through a mix of funding, information sharing and management assistance. One example of how we have supported this work is by partnering with Transcend, a non-profit organization specializing in building R&D capacity to accelerate breakthroughs in the creation and spread of new school models. In October 2016, we launched the Transcend + NewSchools Collaborative, a 10-month cohort-based program that engaged educators from 10 district and charter organizations who are interested in school redesign. The Collaborative experience included in-person meetings, customized coaching, self-paced resources and design tools, and funding from NewSchools to attend. If you would like to learn more about the Collaborative and the participants’ work to build innovative new school models, check out this guest post by a member of the Collaborative, or this blog post by our own Scott Benson.

Model Provider

Many schools are eager to adopt innovative instructional models, allowing them to better personalize their students’ learning experiences. But, they lack the tools and resources to create these models on their own. That is why we believe “model providers” might be another path to scaling impact.

There is no standard definition for a model provider, but we consider these essential elements:

* has developed a comprehensive instructional model that can be implemented in at least one of the following ways: whole school; school within a school; or an entire subject/grade span (e.g. grades 6-8 math),

* have a core mission of implementing their model by supporting schools outside their network,

* can provide the tools and/or services necessary for those schools to fully implement the model, and

* are willing to accept shared responsibility for student learning outcomes.

In addition to the elements above, we seek model providers that:

* prioritize personalization and student ownership in their instructional model and support multiple measures of success, particularly for underserved students,

* design for financial sustainability and widespread adoption in different contexts (e.g. charter and district, urban and rural).

* plan for their models to be affordable; schools must be able to fund the initial implementation and ongoing costs using available public revenue.

Do you have an idea for an innovative model?

Meet the venture team:

Jessica Ball
Scott Benson
Derrick Johnson
Miho Kubagawa
Arielle Rittvo Kinder
Kareem Weaver

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