Our Model

As a nonprofit venture philanthropy, we use charitable donations to support teams of educators and innovators who are reimagining public education to give all students—particularly those from underserved communities—a  better opportunity to achieve their most ambitious dreams and plans. 

We cultivate pipelines of innovators, educators and entrepreneurs, and rigorously screen them—investing in those with the greatest potential to improve student learning and make a positive impact. We support our ventures with management assistance and customized resources to help them achieve their missions more quickly and with higher quality. We also work across the sector to build learning networks and share knowledge. Since we are a nonprofit organization, the returns we seek are educational and social, not financial.

diligence management knowledge

NewSchools is known for identifying and supporting some of the highest impact education entrepreneurs in the field.

Pipeline, Diligence & Investment

We cultivate pipelines of promising, diverse entrepreneurs, rigorously screen them, and invest in ventures with the greatest potential to create results for students.

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Management Assistance and Support

We deliver customized guidance and resources to help our ventures succeed. We create and support communities of practice where entrepreneurs learn from each other and experts.

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Knowlege Sharing

We connect entrepreneurs to each other and share their lessons broadly to ensure that the best ideas and tools spread nationwide to benefit all students.

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We invest in innovators with missions grounded in reimagining PreK-12 public education, with a special focus on students from underserved communities, including:

  • Black students
  • Latino students
  • Students from low-income communities
  • Students with individualized education plans
  • English language learners

Ventures must also align with one of our active investment strategies: Innovative Public Schools, Education Technology and Diverse Leaders. 

The overarching criteria that guide our investments:

  • Idea: We partner with educators, innovators and entrepreneurs in the early stages of developing ambitious ideas with potential to dramatically improve student learning. Our long-term goal is to have a catalytic impact on student success nationally, so we focus on ventures with aspirations to expand their impact significantly over time by growing their organizations and/or influencing the work of others.
  • Team: We seek new and existing ventures led by mission-driven teams of educators and innovators who demonstrate passion, personal integrity and the ability to execute and achieve results. We expect our ventures to build high-functioning teams at all levels, particularly at the board and senior leadership levels, to ensure they are surrounded by individuals with the range of skills and backgrounds necessary to deliver on their visions. Ventures should be open to working closely with us and being an active member of learning networks with fellow portfolio members.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: We believe teams who are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are better equipped to meet the needs of the students and communities they serve. We seek teams that embrace this commitment by developing comprehensive strategies to prioritize DEI in their organizations, confronting issues of race, class and privilege, and recruiting racially and ethnically diverse board members, leadership teams and staff to reflect the students they serve.
  • Financial Sustainability: We are ultimately interested in achieving impact at scale and it is impossible to scale models that rely on philanthropy to close a structural deficit. To that end, we look for ventures with a plan for achieving sustainability at scale through public or earned revenue.

After deciding to make an investment, we engage deeply as partners with our ventures, providing extensive support as they build their organizational capacity. We take an active role with each venture in our portfolio through:

  • Communities of Practice: NewSchools convenes our current ventures several times a year, enabling them to share knowledge from practice. These Community of Practice gatherings establish relationships across our ventures that they use to make their work stronger.
  • Goal-setting and monitoring: We share our framework for annual goal setting and monitoring with our ventures and expect them to institute rigorous objectives and results targets within their organizations. These well-defined metrics also help us assess the success of our portfolio organizations and identify any areas for greater support.
  • Milestone management: NewSchools disburses funds based on ventures’ achievement of specific milestones, typically the most critical objectives. Milestone management enables us to hold ventures accountable for their results.
  • Other support as needed: Our management assistance model allows us to provide necessary support in a flexible way. Examples include board service, strategic planning, fundraising support, academic support, team searches and evaluation planning.

NewSchools plays an important role in connecting our innovators’ work to the broader landscape of public education. By connecting people and sharing knowledge—both within our portfolio and with other stakeholders—NewSchools is contributing to thought leadership. We believe in  sharing what we’re learning as soon as we learn it. 

We do this by:

  • Connecting thought leaders: NewSchools regularly convenes our ventures in person and online, helping them build relationships and share knowledge, best practices and tools. One of our annual initiatives is our Summit, an invitation-only gathering of education thought leaders.
  • Developing and sharing knowledge: By capturing and sharing the lessons we learn through the work of our ventures, we influence entrepreneurs, leaders, funders and policymakers within and beyond our portfolio. See our Resources and News + Blogs.