NSVF: Spotlights Innovator Teachers and Entrepreneurs for Annual Awards

April 30, 2014

On the Tuesday evening before its grand annual education Summit, the NewSchools Venture Fund convened a dinner for the schools and companies that NewSchools has supported during its 15 year history. It was an emotional meeting, particularly because long-time NSVF head, Ted Mitchell, will be leaving the group to become deputy secretary of education in the Palo Alto. 

Yet another highlight of the evening was the awards ceremony

NewSchools spotlighted a handful of companies and schools for “exemplify[ing] the leadership and values that NewSchools seeks in its portfolio,” said Deborah Mintz, Chief Advancement Officer of NewSchools. “Each awardee is making a measurable difference for students in underserved communities all over the country and many of them are changing the way teaching and learning happen in public schools.” 

NewSchools surprised its portfolios by choosing an educator as its top “Entrepreneur of the Year,” and a company (rather than a school) as its top “Organization of the Year.” 

Entrepreneur of the Year

NewSchools picked Reid Saaris, executive director at the Equal Opportunity Schools, as the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which recognizes talented leaders exhibiting creativity and flexibility in pursuing their goal of closing the achievement gap. “NewSchools has been an incredible support to us over the years,” said Saaris in a written statement. “Thanks in significant part to that support, this year our partner high schools will have moved more than 10,000 low-income students and students of color up to advanced academic levels.”

Organization of the Year 

EdSurge was honored by NSVF as the Organization of the Year for its work in helping “educators discover the best products and how to use them, and inspires developers to build what educators and learners need.” 

“EdSurge is the go-to, trusted source for education technology. They are uniquely positioned between edtech and educators – offering teachers the resources they need to introduce technology into classrooms with confidence and providing  investors and developers with up to the minute information on the latest innovations” said Jennifer Carolan, NewSchools’ Seed Fund managing director.

EdSurge’s Betsy Corcoran was thrilled to accept the award on behalf of the entire EdSurge team. It was delivered by the leader of last year’s NSVF Organization of the Year, Ellen Moir of the New Teacher Center

Learning to Teach Impact Award

TeachLive took the top prize for NewSchools 2014 Learning to Teach Impact Award. TeachLive helps current and future teachers improve their pedagogy and content by creating a simulated classroom experience — like a flight simulator — for teachers to test their skills. (Here’s EdSurge’s description of TeachLive.) 

Seed Fund Impact Award

Bright Bytes’ Rob Mancabelli and Hisham Anwar received the Seed Fund Impact Award for their collection and analysis of data measuring technology’s impact on student achievement. BrightBytes delivers to schools customized roadmaps for improvement, as well as the resources to put the plan into action.

City Funds Awards

The City Funds Awards recognize the growth of entrepreneurial organizations that improve education in specific low-income communities. Specifically there were four awardees:  

  • The 2014 City Funds Impact Award went to Ryan Hill from TEAM Charter Schools as well as Kimberly Steadman and Jon Clark at the Edward Brooke Charter Schools. TEAM Charter Schools is a high-performing charter school organization with four schools and 1,500 students in Newark, NJ.  The Edward Brooke Charter Schools serves 475 Boston Public Schools students in grades K-8 in Roslindale, Mass.                                                                                                       
  • The City Funds Entrepreneur to Watch Award was present to Nicole Baker Fulgham at The Expectations Project. Currently operating in Indianapolis and Washington, DC, The Expectations Project partners with faith-motivated individuals, leaders, congregations and organizations to develop local and national campaigns that help enact transformational change for low-income public schools.


  • Ken Berrick, from the Seneca Family of Agencies, accepted the City Funds Organization to Watch Award. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif, Seneca’s Unconditional Education approach highlights innovative ways of partnering with school leadership to build school-wide practices and systems focused on early identification and intervention of students whose needs are not being addressed. Seneca’s approach also focuses on ways to strengthen schools as they support students before they fail.]

Editor’s note: NewSchools is an investor in EdSurge