NewSchools Venture Fund Welcomes New Chief Executive Officer

January 11, 2023

Wendy-Ann Dixon-DuBois
NewSchools Venture Fund
[email protected] 

NewSchools Venture Fund Welcomes New Chief Executive Officer 

(Oakland, CA, January 11, 2023) – NewSchools Venture Fund introduced Frances Messano as its new Chief Executive Officer today. In 2022, Messano was appointed as successor to outgoing CEO, Stacey Childress, who stepped down after an accomplished eight year tenure. Messano brings two decades of education and business leadership experience. Her tenure begins effective January 1 after eight years in executive leadership at NewSchools, most recently as president, leading the organization’s investment strategy since 2021. As the first woman of color to lead the organization, Messano will shepherd NewSchools into its 25th year of supporting early-stage education entrepreneurs across the country and driving impact for students.

“The past few years have shown us how important it is for leaders to be responsive to the needs of the communities they serve. Under Frances Messano’s leadership, NewSchools has shown agility and awareness in grantmaking to support the future of learning. Her ability to survey what’s ahead and make shifts in our work demonstrates how astutely Frances is guiding not just the organization, but the entire education philanthropy sector and why our board is confident that she will continue to catalyze change,” shared Paula Sneed, Chair of the NewSchools Board of Directors and CEO of Phelps Prescott Group, LLC.  

In this new role, Messano will build on the momentum she has created in 2022 while serving as president, which includes raising and investing more than $45M in 141 ventures, 76% of which are led by people of color. The Diverse Leaders strategy and portfolio was spearheaded by Messano in 2015 and was pivotal in transforming the NewSchools investment strategy and increasing the number of people of color who receive capital – a group traditionally overlooked in the philanthropic sector. She went on to lead the Innovative Schools portfolio in 2018, advancing NewSchools’ focus on an expanded definition of student success. The organization will close out a three year investing cycle and introduce its next strategy at the end of 2023.  

Frances Messano has been at NewSchools since 2015 and previously led organizational strategy development at institutions such as Teach For America and Monitor Deloitte. Messano has an MBA from Harvard Business School and AB from Harvard College. Her community involvement reflects her commitment to equity and education. She serves on the board of Unidos US, Stand for Children, Pahara Institute, and Latinos for Education. She is also on the Tipping Point leadership council and a Pahara-Aspen education fellow. Messano is a first-generation college graduate and an alum of Prep for Prep, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, non-profit organizations that she credits with helping her gain access to educational opportunity. 

“Every young person in the country deserves an excellent and equitable education. At NewSchools, we are rethinking our investment strategies and priorities, as well as how funding decisions get made, in order to make this vision a reality. We are expanding access to who gets to be an education entrepreneur and whose ideas get listened to, while recruiting more philanthropies to join us. I want to assemble the most diverse and dedicated group of innovators, community leaders, and philanthropists to reimagine public education for good,” said Frances Messano, CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund. 

In the years ahead, NewSchools Venture Fund will convene and collaborate with philanthropies that are ready and willing to broaden and shift their funding strategies and methods to be more inclusive and adaptive to the current education climate. Identifying, financially supporting, and coaching a diverse group of innovative education leaders will remain at the forefront of the organization’s approach to ensuring every student is provided with the opportunity to attain an excellent education. 

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a nonprofit venture philanthropy focused on advancing excellence, innovation, and equity in PreK-12 education. We raise money to make early-stage investments in the most promising education leaders and ideas. We elevate diverse innovators and support them to deepen their impact, and build bodies of evidence about what works in education. Through our investing, management assistance, network building and thought leadership, NewSchools helps to reimagine PreK-12 education.