News Release – NewSchools Venture Fund Announces NewSchools Ignite, Accelerating EdTech Development To Address Specific Gaps in K-12 Education

July 30, 2015

First NewSchools Ignite Challenge Offers $1.5 Million in Grants to Spark Focused Innovation in Science Learning

OAKLAND, Calif., July 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm, today announced the launch of NewSchools Ignite, a uniquely focused education technology accelerator that will support entrepreneurs tackling the most pressing gaps in K-12 education technology. NewSchools Ignite will catalyze product growth in specific areas deemed crucial to teachers and students and where innovation is noticeably lagging.

NewSchools Ignite’s first initiative, the Science Learning Challenge, is now open to companies and nonprofits building technologies that support students’ development of science and engineering skills. NewSchools Ignite will distribute up to $1.5 million in grants to up to 15 challenge winners building digital tools that enhance science learning. Individual grants will range from $50,000-$150,000, depending on product stage.

“The edtech ecosystem is bubbling over with talent and ideas, yet teachers nationwide have identified a void in digital tools that support science learning across the K-12 spectrum. Our Science Learning Challenge will mobilize entrepreneurs to develop their most promising ideas to fill this void and give them opportunities to receive invaluable feedback from educators and researchers.” said Stacey Childress, Chief Executive Officer of NewSchools Venture Fund. “Through this program, we hope to empower more underserved students as explorers and creators, and to ignite students’ curiosity for deeper learning across the sciences.”

The NewSchools Ignite team will partner with researchers and science education specialists at WestEd to facilitate a research-based approach to product development among the cohort. WestEd will provide Science Learning Challenge winners with recommendations rooted in current education technology and science education literature, and provide product design feedback from a research perspective. The WestEd team will also collaborate with grant recipients on small-scale studies targeting usability and feasibility in the classroom, as well as studies that evaluate products’ early potential for improving educational outcomes for students.

“Teachers are continually looking for ways to enhance student learning opportunities and help them meet the challenging new Next Generation Science Standards,” said Steve Schneider, Senior Program Director of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program at WestEd, and principal investigator of the National Science Foundation’s Center for Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning. “WestEd is excited to support NewSchools Ignite and its grant recipients in an effort to develop finely-tuned science learning technologies at a time when educators and students need them most.”

Visit NewSchools Ignite to learn more and apply for the Science Learning Challenge. As a virtual accelerator, NewSchools Ignite offers a highly customized program and does not require its entrepreneurs to relocate in order to participate. NewSchools Venture Fund will not request equity from challenge winners.

About WestEd

WestEd is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency that works with education and other communities throughout the United States and abroad to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults.

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit that seeks to transform public education so that all children have the opportunity to succeed – especially those in schools that do not currently work for them. To achieve this goal, NewSchools identifies the most promising and innovative education entrepreneurs and helps them effectively accomplish their missions to achieve outstanding results for the children and educators they serve. Through our investing, management assistance, network building, and thought leadership, NewSchools helps to reinvent K-12 education to help students graduate high school prepared and inspired to achieve their most ambitious dreams and plans.

Karen Mahon