Five Leading Educators Honored at National Summit on Education Entrepreneurship

May 27, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – May 26, 2009 – NewSchools Venture Fund recognized the contributions of leaders in entrepreneurial education reform at its Summit in Pasadena, California on Monday and Tuesday, May 18 and 19. These leaders are contributing to the transformation of the public education system through policymaking, research, and building innovative school organizations that provide children in some of our country’s toughest urban centers with opportunities for success in college and beyond.

NewSchools presented the following awards to the following outstanding educators:

Marguerite Roza, University of Washington’s College of Education (Seattle): Change Agent of the Year
Jonathan Schnur, Co-Founder and CEO of New Leaders for New Schools: Change Agent of the Year
KIPP DC: Entrepreneurial Organization of the Year
Don Feinstein, Executive Director of Academy for Urban School Leadership: Entrepreneur of the Year
Don Shalvey, Co-Founder and CEO of Aspire Public Schools: Entrepreneurial Career Achievement Award

Change Agents of the Year

NewSchools awarded the second annual Change Agent of the Year awards to Marguerite Roza and Jonathan Schnur, two entrepreneurial thinkers who have been instrumental in federal education reform over the past year.

Marguerite Roza

Marguerite Roza is a Research Associate Professor at the University of Washington’s College of Education. Dr. Roza’s work focuses on quantitative policy analysis, particularly in the area of education finance. Over the past year, this research has directly informed education policy at the federal level. Her financial models demonstrated to policymakers how much money was needed to save teaching jobs in America, and also highlighted the cost of tenure and seniority under the current system. Roza calculated that an overall cut of 9 percent to salary expenditures in an urban district would force a cut of 13 percent of the workforce, because of newer teachers’ lower salaries. Roza has published widely, testified before Congress, and calculated the human costs to our country of policies that would deprive all students – particularly those typically underserved – from the benefits of effective teachers.

NewSchools Partner and COO Joanne Weiss described Roza’s important role in building a sound evidence base for effective policy. “Unknown to most, it is Marguerite’s thoughtful analysis and financial acumen that provided much of the data to support the economic stabilization part of the stimulus package for education.”

Jonathan Schnur

The Change Agent of the Year was also awarded to Jonathan Schnur, co-Founder and CEO of New Leaders for New Schools, a national nonprofit that recruits and trains outstanding principals in order to boost academic achievement in urban public schools and provides support to enable these schools to succeed. To date, New Leaders has recruited and trained over 550 outstanding school leaders. Last year, Schnur took a leave of absence from one of the most potent entrepreneurial reform organizations in the country to advise Barack Obama and later Arne Duncan on national education policy. Schnur was a key architect of the new administration’s education policy, and in particular in designing how new funds could be structured to have the greatest possible impact on student outcomes. His hard work over the past year helped direct stimulus funds toward public education, and added to the stimulus package the largest reform budget ever appropriated for the Department of Education, giving the federal government more leverage than it has ever had to drive reform.

Past recipients of the NewSchools Change Agent of the Year award include Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of DC Public Schools and Bart Petersen, former Mayor of Indianapolis and co-Founder and Chair of the Mind Trust, a venture Fund focused on seeding new organizations and bringing education entrepreneurs to the Indianapolis community.

NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that seeks to improve public education. The Change Agent of the Year awards were announced in Pasadena, California at NewSchools’ annual Summit. The event brought together a diverse group of education stakeholders including urban educators, business executives, philanthropists, school district leaders, policymakers, elected officials and entrepreneurs. They spent the day engaging in critical dialogue and creative problem-solving around the challenges that face public education, with a focus on low-income and minority students.

Entrepreneur Awards

The night before, NewSchools also recognized one organization and two entrepreneurs in the NewSchools portfolio who are creating high-performing systems of public schools.


KIPP DC, a growing network of 4 charter schools in Washington DC, received the Organization of the Year award. KIPP DC has posted impressive results since its founding in 2001, serving the communities in the highest poverty neighborhoods: 80% of KIPP’s students qualify for FRL, 99% are African American and 85% will be the first in their family to graduate from college. The organization’s results are extraordinary. KIPP’s middle schools outscore every public school in DC including many that do not serve a similar population. Currently KIPP DC operates 4 schools – 3 middle schools and one early childhood school – serving 1100 students. By 2012, KIPP DC will run 10 schools which, at scale, will serve 3400 students, grades preK-12.

Don Feinstein

Don Feinstein, Executive Director of Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Feinstein’s collaboration with Chicago Public Schools exemplifies the power of entrepreneurial thinking to transform systems. NewSchools Partner Jordan Meranus described, “AUSL demonstrates the direct and catalytic impact an entrepreneurial organization can have. Don Feinstein is relentless in his efforts to scale AUSL with quality and take on a growing number of the lowest performing schools.” AUSL, which serves 6,500 students across 11 schools, has demonstrated national leadership in improving education for low-income students through a unique combination of activities: training new teachers in an innovative residency training program and turning around failing public schools. In its first three years of operation, AUSL’s first turnaround school has nearly doubled student performance results.

Don Shalvey

NewSchools awarded the first ever Entrepreneurial Career Achievement Award to Don Shalvey, Co-Founder and CEO of Aspire Public Schools. Shalvey hosted the first charter school in California when he served as superintendent of the San Carlos Schools, and went on to found Aspire, the first charter management organization in the country, in 1999. A decade later, Aspire operates 21 schools, serving 6,400 students in the Bay Area, Central Valley and Los Angeles. Aspire is larger than 75 % of all CA districts and their similar schools rankings are better than 94% of all CA districts (14 of these schools are ranked a 9 or 10 out of 10 in the state’s ranking system). NewSchools celebrated Shalvey’s contributions not only to the students and families that Aspire serves, but to the entrepreneurial education movement as a whole. As NewSchools Founder Kim Smith described, “Don’s vision, humility, and incredible leadership have shown us the enormous power of a good idea in the hands of a pioneer willing to do the hard work of building a new organization. His dedication and tenacity over time have proven that we can create better public education systems at scale.” Shalvey will be transitioning to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation later this year.

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that has been working since 1998 to transform public education for underserved children by supporting education entrepreneurs who create nonprofit and for-profit organizations that have the power to catalyze system-wide change. NewSchools invests in organizations that start public schools, recruit and train teachers and principals, and create essential tools for public schools. Its investments are designed to make a significant systemic impact in some of the nation’s most challenged urban communities, including New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Oakland, California. More information is available at