Innovative Public Schools

Most of today’s schools were designed for a different time and purpose, for the society and economy of the early 20th century. They matched up well enough with how we lived and worked then – preparing an elite few for college and the rest of us for the jobs available in our towns or regions back then. The world has changed dramatically since then, and our schools have struggled to keep up. It’s time to update our schools so they work better for today’s students.

Teams of educators across America are taking on this challenge.

Our Investment Strategies

We invest in schools all over the country, in districts and charter networks. These schools are using new approaches to ensure students’ learning experiences are more personalized – tailored to their individual needs, skill levels and interests. Students are empowered to take more ownership of their learning and given opportunities to build deep connections to each other and their teachers. The innovative schools in our portfolio also embrace an expanded definition of student success,  which we define as strong academics combined with important mindsets, skills and habits.

The Promise of Innovative Public Schools

Most schools were designed for a different time and purpose – for the society and economy of the industrial age. The world has changed dramatically since then, but our schools have largely stayed the same. It’s time to update the way schools work so they better prepare our students for success today and in the future.

Regardless of what future a young person might want, she or he needs a strong academic foundation, but reading, writing and numeracy skills are not enough. That’s why we invest in schools that also help students build mindsets, skills and habits like curiosity, growth mindset, perseverance, self-awareness, self-efficacy, self-regulation and social awareness/ social competence, which emerging research shows are correlated with long-term success. And, early results from the innovative public schools we fund are encouraging – especially the degree to which they can support higher achievement for students who start farthest behind.

Investment Criteria for Innovative Public Schools

We invest in:

  • Teams planning to open new, innovative public schools – district or charter
  • Organizations that partner with existing schools to support their redesign efforts

We select the most promising teams and support them through a mix of funding and management assistance.

NewSchools Invent

If you have ambitious plans to launch a new, innovative public school that will reimagine the student experience, consider applying to NewSchools Invent. 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.

If you have an idea for an innovative public school launching in 2021 and beyond, please share your contact information and ideas with us.

School Redesign

With 100,000 public schools in America, the greatest opportunity for wide-scale impact is to support innovative redesign of existing schools so they are better able to meet the needs of their students.

Most schools are looking for effective, proven approaches to redesign that are already working well in other schools. A partner that can offer a bundle of instructional resources, teacher supports and administrative tools – all aligned with a school’s vision and goals – can provide a foundation for educators as they implement their redesign plans. This saves time and cost, and can be an effective way to bring promising approaches to more students.

One solution? Model Providers. That’s what we call partner organizations that provide integrated tools and resources, along with implementation support, to help existing schools adopt innovative models. While there is more to learn about this approach, we see tremendous promise. As an early-stage investor, we plan to back several teams who are interested in this path, and learn alongside them. Learn more about this idea in our white paper. And, to learn about the different entry points and stages of this model, read our paper Model Providers: New Pathways to Innovation.

If you are an organization or have a tool that supports the redesign of existing schools, we invite you to share your contact information and ideas with us.

Meet the venture team

Scott Benson
Leo Bialis-White
Miho Kubagawa
Raffy Maristela
Heather McManus
Frances Messano
Gabi Netter
Nathan Shiferaw
Antonio Tapia
Ariana Valenzuela

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