The following post was originally published on EdSurge on August 1, 2017:
August is often a sleepy month, when many are focused on enjoying the last bit of summer before the busy fall season begins. But we’re hoping teams of educators and entrepreneurs with bold ideas in education will step away from their vacations to seize a great opportunity from NewSchools Venture Fund.
Young people have incredible aspirations for themselves, and they deserve the preparation and support it takes to reach those aspirations. To achieve this goal, we invest in three areas: innovative schools designed to meet the needs of every student, tools and services that students and teachers in such schools need, and more diverse education leaders who will create innovations that are more effective and sustainable.
Today we are launching open funding opportunities across all three investment areas. Each area has its own investment criteria, and each opportunity has its own timeline. But all have potential to make an impact on schools and students; taken together, the available investment funding totals up to $8 million.
Last year was the first time we opened all these funding opportunities simultaneously. We attracted a great deal of interest from potential ventures, and over the past year, we learned a lot. Our investment strategies are now more mature, and they are shaped by experiences with our ventures, feedback from the field, and market research. Let’s dig deeper into each strategy.
Over the past year, NewSchools has invested in teams of educators with plans to open 34 schools by 2019. With this funding opportunity, we are excited to launch a new recruitment season for prospective teams in school districts and charter school networks all over the country. We are seeking teams of educators in every corner of the nation who have the passion and potential to create learning environments that equip every student to graduate prepared and inspired to achieve their most ambitious dreams and plans.
Too many students will start school this fall in classrooms that were designed for a different time and purpose. NewSchools wants to support a new generation of school leaders who are thinking about how to create more personalized learning experiences that provide students with strong academic preparation as well as the mindsets, skills and habits they need to be successful in college, career and life.
Our team created a video that we hope will inspire people who are thinking about opening a new, innovative school to take the leap and begin the process. In addition to funding, NewSchools provides management assistance and participation in a cohort experience. We can’t wait to see who will be in the new cohort.
What We Offer: Investments from $100,000 to $200,000, plus management assistance and participation in a cohort
Who We’re Looking For: Teams of educators with plans to open their first or second innovative school with a school district or charter network
Timeline: Apply here by January 12, 2018
Tools & Services
Edtech tools are a great resource to both teachers and students—providing real-time data, individually paced access to content, and adaptive learning supports. While there is certainly no shortage of edtech products for the classroom, there are some areas where the market has not developed adequately to meet the need—such as early learning. We listen carefully to educators and conduct market research to help uncover these gaps. Informed by their input, the area we are focused on now is the Early Education Challenge—Pre-K through second grade.
For this challenge, we are looking for companies and nonprofits creating tools to support young learners’ academic and social development in Pre-K through second grade. We have a specific interest in support for the development of self-regulation, literacy and numeracy—which set the foundation as students learn to read, write and understand information. We provide ventures with the risk capital and support they need to create new tools, while creating a cohort experience for them.
Our previous grant challenges have focused on science learning, middle and high school math, English Language Learners and students with disabilities. Check out our new edtech research portal that illuminates many of the lessons we’ve learned.
What We Offer: Investments from $50 to $150,000, plus management assistance and participation in a six-month cohort
Who We’re Looking For: Edtech entrepreneurs developing classroom tools for students Pre-K through second grade
Timeline: Apply here by August 31
Just last week, we released a landmark study—titled Unrealized Impact—on the state of diversity, equity and inclusion in the K-12 education sector. The release of the report was timely. Going into this new funding cycle, the study findings bolster our commitment to strengthening the pipeline of more Black and Latino leaders in education.
In fact, it prompted us to increase our goal for Black and Latino leaders in the education sector—from 30 percent to 40 percent—by the year 2020. With this open funding opportunity, we hope to attract an outstanding cohort of new Diverse Leaders ventures to help get us closer to achieving our goal.
With input from more than 200 education organizations and more than 5,000 staff from those organizations, Unrealized Impact is the largest study of its kind ever done and provides an important benchmark for where we sit as a sector. Among key findings, the study confirmed that the percentage of Black and Latino education leaders is well below their white counterparts—even as the population of PreK-12 students in America becomes more diverse every year.
What We Offer: Investments from $75,000 to $150,000, plus management assistance and participation in a cohort
Who We’re Looking For: Entrepreneurs with early stage ventures (0-2 years) or new initiatives at existing organizations to attract, recruit, develop, retain and/or place Black and Latino senior leaders in education
Timeline: Apply here by September 15
The entire team at NewSchools is buzzing with excitement. We can hardly wait for all the great ideas to start pouring in. If you or someone you know has an idea that fits into one of our areas of investment focus, we’d love to see it. Maybe that little idea could be the next big thing!