NewSchools Venture Fund Announces Performance Accelerator Fund

May 12, 2003

New Fund To Enhance The Capacity of School Systems To Improve Student Achievement; Complements NewSchools’ Charter School System Efforts

Palo Alto, CA — May 12, 2003 — NewSchools Venture Fund announced the launch of its new Performance Accelerator Fund, targeted at $20 million and designed to invest in ventures that enhance the capacity of school systems to produce high levels of student achievement. The fund was announced to more than 300 leaders from across the public, private and nonprofit sectors at the fourth annual invite-only NewSchools Summit, held in Palo Alto, California.

“As districts work to increase student achievement, we must ensure that they have the tools they need to be successful,” said Kim Smith, co-founder and CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund. “The education entrepreneurs in our Performance Accelerator Fund will be key change agents whose work will enable large-scale improvement of educational opportunities and outcomes for all students.”

State and federal education policies are increasingly pushing for school systems to shift from compliance-driven organizations — governed by rules, regulations and court orders — to performance-based cultures focused on high student achievement. Recognizing that districts would need support in making this shift, NewSchools interviewed nearly fifty district leaders, academic researchers and philanthropists to determine the most critical needs of the market.

“There is no doubt that investing in the recruitment and development of the highest quality teachers and leaders is a top priority for the New York City public schools,” said Anthony Shorris, Deputy Chancellor for Operations and Planning, New York City Schools.

“The task for us, as it is for districts across the country, is to have the right tools for assessment that can guide the work we do,” noted Patricia Harvey, Superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota. “We need to know with precision what our children are learning and where they are headed.”

In light of those challenges, the ventures in the Performance Accelerator Fund will focus on developing people who know how to lead and teach in a performance-based environment; designing tools that give those people the information they need to make good instructional decisions; and supporting practices that promote and reinforce success. The Fund will identify, fund and build ventures that address human capital — including the recruitment, preparation and support of high-quality teachers and leaders — and performance tools — including information systems and assessment tools that enable teachers and leaders to make data-based decisions about their students’ instruction.

“Human capital and performance tools are critical areas that aren’t being sufficiently addressed today,” said Joanne Weiss, managing partner of NewSchools. “NewSchools will step in to support ventures that tackle these pressing needs.”

The Fund may also consider investments in research-based curricula — particularly in areas of high need, such as English language learning and special education — and in supplemental education services.

The Performance Accelerator Fund is complementary to NewSchools’ other efforts to transform K-12 public education by empowering education entrepreneurs. The Charter Accelerator Fund — a $30 million fund announced last year to fuel the growth of charter school systems — is building alternative models of effective, aligned charter school systems. And through the NewSchools Summit and other initiatives, the NewSchools Network brings together a bipartisan community of leaders from across sectors — including education, business, nonprofit, research and policymaking — to address the important work of improving our nation’s schools.

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a venture philanthropy fund working to transform public education for underserved children by supporting education entrepreneurs who create high-quality education ventures, and by providing thought leadership across traditional education boundaries to ensure that results-oriented, systemic change is accomplished.

Founded in 1998, NewSchools has invested $20 million to date in ten nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Our investments focus on accelerating the growth of nonprofit charter school systems (including investments in Aspire Public Schools and Leadership Public Schools), and on enhancing the capacity of school districts to produce high levels of student achievement (including investments in New Leaders for New Schools, Teachscape, Teach for America, Carnegie Learning and Success for All). For more information about NewSchools Venture Fund, please visit or call us at (415) 615-6860.