NewSchools Venture Fund was created in 1998 by social entrepreneur Kim Smith and venture capitalists John Doerr and Brook Byers. Each had witnessed the impact of visionary entrepreneurs to create dramatic change in other sectors, such as technology.
NewSchools’ founders believed that innovative teams of educators, innovators and education entrepreneurs could similarly bring about much-needed change in public education if they had access to both early-stage capital and strategic, hands-on support to start and grow their organizations. NewSchools Venture Fund was built to enable a new type of capital market that could support the development of entrepreneurial ventures serving all children—especially those in underserved communities— within public education.
In our first 20 years, we invested nearly $345 million in over one thousand education innovators. Among their many accomplishments, they started schools which serve nearly 50,000 students when fully enrolled, and have created education technologies reaching more than 46 million students and teachers worldwide. Throughout our history, we have invested in three key areas: innovative public schools, education technology, and diverse leaders. Although the investment focus in each area has evolved over time to address emerging needs and opportunities, we have remained committed to these three pillars.
Innovative Public Schools and School Redesign
Today, we invest in innovative public schools across the nation, and our current area of focus is innovative district and charter schools—both new schools and existing schools interested in redesign. We support models designed to help students develop a strong academic foundation along with other mindsets, habits and skills they need for success in life.
NewSchools’ work to support digital learning tools began at our inception in 1998. Today, we invest in education technology that increases the availability and effectiveness of products that deepen and enrich student learning. These tools are developed by companies and nonprofits creating innovative products to help address the most pressing needs identified by teachers and students.
From the very beginning, talent development has been a critical area of investment and management assistance at NewSchools. The recruitment, training and development of effective leaders and teachers is essential for reimagining education. Through a handful of initial exploratory investments in organizations focused on preparing and supporting Black and Latino leaders, we learned about the robust research into the benefits of diverse leadership to organizations in every industry.