NewSchools Venture Fund Releases Report on Latino Education Entrepreneurs

September 17, 2019

New report explores why representation remains low and what funders can do to find and better support these leaders

(Oakland, CA, Sept. 17, 2019) –NewSchools Venture Fund today released a new report, Talented, Passionate and Underrepresented: Investing in Latino Edupreneurs. Informed by a combination of qualitative and quantitative research, the goal of the report is to better understand the reasons why there are so few Latino education innovators, and what education philanthropies can do to better support them. One in four students in U.S. schools is Latino, and they are projected to be one in three by 2026. Although Latinos have the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America, they are underrepresented among education entrepreneurs.

“Some things just weren’t adding up for me,” said Frances Messano, senior managing partner, NewSchools Venture Fund. “I’m a Latina working at NewSchools, an organization committed to embracing diversity, equity and inclusion across all our investment areas. How could we have low Latino representation in our own portfolio of ventures? And, why did this pattern persist across the sector? I needed to find out more.”

This report explores what was behind the low numbers. Were Latino entrepreneurs choosing not to go into education? Were they deciding not to apply for funding from philanthropies, and why? Were they unaware of the opportunities? Were they applying, but just not getting funded?

Through a series of focus groups and individual conversations with more than 110 Latino education entrepreneurs in several cities, a story began to emerge. To supplement and validate this qualitative research, NewSchools commissioned an online survey, drawn from a national sample, to reach a broader set of Latino founders. The findings were both encouraging and sobering.

Key findings from the report:

  • Latino education entrepreneurs are more likely to be juggling multiple responsibilities than other entrepreneurs. Three in four report they are employed full- or part-time at a company, while starting and running their venture.
  • Latino education entrepreneurs exhibit strong enterprising qualities that are often part of a family history of entrepreneurship. Many say they were exposed to entrepreneurship by their parents, who often launched their own businesses from necessity.
  • Latino education entrepreneurs have a strong calling to improve their local communities and work with students. They view their work as “helping kids succeed.” It’s a vocation, not just a job. The most common reasons cited for starting and continuing their organizations are to “improve my community” and “improve educational outcomes.”
  • Low familiarity with philanthropy and limited information can discourage Latino education entrepreneurs from pursuing grant opportunities. Fewer than one in four report that funds from philanthropic organizations or investors would be available to them if they needed additional support today.
  • Support from professional and community organizations can help Latino leaders make the leap into education entrepreneurship. The organizations they affiliate with most and which provide the greatest perceived benefits are Hispanic/Latino professional groups and Hispanic chambers of commerce. However, they are less familiar with non-profits focused on supporting education entrepreneurs like 4.0 Schools and Camelback among the group.

The full report delves deeper into the findings and includes potential next steps and considerations for Latino innovators and funders that could result in a pipeline of entrepreneurs that better reflects the students they serve.

“We believe talent and genius are equally distributed, but access to opportunity is not. Dramatically increasing the number of Latino education entrepreneurs will require providing investors with more knowledge about how to best find, support and capitalize Latino leaders to realize their dreams. NewSchools and other funders must work differently to nurture talent that better reflects our student population,” added Messano.