New investments… and a new video!

February 16, 2011

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Back in September, we made a promise that if 150,000 people pledged to see the movie Waiting for “Superman”, we would invest $5 million in entrepreneurial organizations that improve public education for low-income kids. The movie gets viewers outraged—as they should be—at the fact that in some communities, a quality education is a matter of chance. We believe outrage can translate into action, and we wanted to see that message travel as fast and far as possible.

But it’s not enough to be outraged. It’s also important to know that there’s reason for hope—that if we invest time, energy, and treasure, we can make change. We believe that education innovators and entrepreneurs are an important part of that change. To that point, we were lucky enough to be invited by the makers of Waiting for “Superman” to create a video about what’s working. The video  highlights the amazing work being done by education innovators to change lives for low-income kids, and it’s included as an extra on the Waiting for “Superman” DVD, which  is now out. You can check out the video here, but you really ought to order a copy of the DVD, and maybe even host a house party to show it.

We’re taking the occasion of the release of the DVD to say that we’re keeping our $5 million promise, and we’re announcing the first three investments in that package. All of these investments are aimed at driving innovation toward specific areas where our system doesn’t do well enough in providing low-income kids with a quality public education, and these particular investments all bring innovative technology as part of the solution. (Not all NewSchools investments involve technology.) Here are the amazing organizations in which we’re delighted to invest:

  • $725,000 in Beyond 12, an organization that aims to dramatically improve college success rates for low-income and first-generation college students. It tracks, coaches, and counsels college students and provides alumni tracking information to the high schools they graduated from. With the investment from NewSchools, Beyond 12 will increase the number of students it tracks and coaches from 1,800 to over 5,000. In addition, the NewSchools investment will allow Beyond 12 to enhance its alumni tracking platform by creating a Facebook application.
  • $300,000 in Presence Telecare, an organization pioneering an innovative approach to address the needs of the more than three million students who suffer from communication disorders that affect their academic development. The NewSchools investment will support the creation of curriculum and evaluation tools.
  • $1 million to Rocketship Education, a network of high-performing public charter schools that is doing pioneering work on a blended or “hybrid” learning model, which combines the best in face-to-face and online learning. The NewSchools investment will support the network’s national expansion, in particular the growth of its academic leadership development programs.

For more, check out the detailed announcement of the investments, which has already been picked up in the innovation media.