Major New Investment Supports NewSchools Venture Fund’s Efforts to Provide 200 High-Quality Charter Schools

October 9, 2006

San Francisco, Ca. – October 9, 2006 – A new $30 million investment in NewSchools Venture Fund will expand access to high-performing schools for thousands of students nationwide. The grant, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will allow NewSchools to boost the number of charter schools that focus on preparing students in historically underserved areas for success in college and careers by developing high-quality charter school management organizations.

The new investment will deepen NewSchools’ ongoing work with nonprofit charter management organizations (CMOs) and support up to 20 entrepreneurial charter school developers; these organizations will establish nearly 200 high-quality, results-oriented schools that will ultimately serve 100,000 students in low-income urban communities across the country, including New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

“This grant is important not only to NewSchools and the charter management organizations it will support, but also to American public education writ large, because the charter school movement holds the promise of improving radically the quality of public schooling in America,” said Ted Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of
NewSchools Venture Fund. “These schools are proving that all children can meet high standards if given the right tools and the right environment; as such, they can and should be sources of innovation from which all schools can draw. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recognized that creating and sustaining these schools is a long and difficult process, and we are grateful for their partnership in this vital work.”

NewSchools Venture Fund is a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that raises funds to support new entrepreneurial organizations that have the potential to improve and transform public education. Among the areas NewSchools supports is charter school management organizations or CMOs, which are nonprofit, aligned systems of charter schools. These CMOs provide high-quality public school options designed to improve student learning and assure quality and accountability. In 2003, the Foundation provided $22 million to support the creation of five new charter management organizations with the goal of establishing 100 new schools to serve 40,000 students within the next decade.

Currently, NewSchools’ existing CMOs run schools in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., and enroll more than 26,000 students annually. By 2015, hundreds of thousands of students throughout the country will be served by NewSchools. Parent demand for these schools is high, with an average of 2.4 active student applications for every available seat. This is because the elementary, middle and high school students served by these organizations are dramatically outperforming students in their “host” districts. The low-income high school students in CMOs supported by NewSchools, for example, on average outperform students in their host districts by 36% in math and by 52% in reading.

“Too many of our nation’s students are not getting the education they need for success in today’s challenging economy,” said Jim Shelton, program director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “By supporting a variety of high-quality school options, especially for low-income and minority students, NewSchools Venture Fund is playing a vital role in transforming our education system and increasing our high school graduation and college readiness rates nationwide.”

The schools supported by NewSchools Venture Fund join more than 1,100 foundation-supported high schools in 42 states and Washington, D.C. that are providing the new “3Rs”: rigor, relevance and relationships – a rigorous curriculum for all students, relevant classes, and meaningful relationships with adults who push all students to achieve. To date, the foundation has invested more than $1 billion to improve the nation’s high school system.