Our History

NewSchools Venture Fund was built to enable a new type of philanthropic support for innovative ventures serving all children—especially those in underserved communities— within public education.

In 1998, social entrepreneur Kim Smith and venture capitalists John Doerr and Brook Byers founded NewSchools Venture Fund. Each had witnessed the impact of visionary entrepreneurs to create dramatic change in other sectors, such as technology. Each believed that innovative teams of educators and education entrepreneurs could similarly bring about much-needed change in public education. They shared the desire to offer these innovators access to both early-stage capital and strategic, hands-on support to start and grow their organizations.

In our 20-plus years, we’ve invested nearly $345 million in over 1,000 education innovators. Since 2015, our investments have been focused in three areas: innovative public schools, diverse leaders, and education technology. Our ventures have started new public schools that serve 54,000 students at full enrollment, implemented new models at existing schools that serve 124,000 students, created education technologies reaching more than 46 million new students, and worked to close the racial leadership gap serving 26,000 Black and Latino educators and leaders. The schools we support have delivered an extra half-year of learning for their students compared to their counterparts.

We’re proud of that progress, but it’s not enough, and we want to do more. The coronavirus pandemic both exposed and increased the need for change in education, as the nation has reckoned with its long and unresolved legacy of racism. Amid this rapidly and dramatically shifting context, we developed a new strategy aimed at accelerating the progress we’re already seeing, while supporting new learning approaches emerging during this pandemic and opening the doors wider to ideas that will advance racial equity and justice.