NewSchools announces $5 million investment in entrepreneurial organizations as 150K people pledge to see Waiting for “Superman”

October 11, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (October 8, 2010) – Honoring a pledge to the viewers of Waiting for “Superman,” national nonprofit venture philanthropy firm NewSchools Venture Fund announced today that it will invest $5 million in innovative education organizations to help close achievement gaps in low-income communities.

The new investments, which will be announced in the coming months, come in connection with the commitment NewSchools made once 150,000 people pledged to see the film. The Waiting for “Superman” pledge meter surpassed that level on October 8 – a testament to the movie’s powerful narrative and its urgent call for dramatic change and innovative solutions to the crisis facing our nation’s public schools.

Waiting for ‘Superman’ shines a bright light on two important truths,” said Ted Mitchell, CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund. “Excellent schools, with outstanding teachers, make all the difference in a child’s life. But in some places in this country, access to an excellent school is a matter of chance. It’s not fair, and we all need to step up to change the odds. NewSchools and its entrepreneurs are demonstrating every day that it can be done.”

NewSchools provides funding and management guidance to entrepreneurial organizations working to improve public education for low income children. NewSchools’ investments include organizations that recruit and train teachers, start public charter schools, turn around failing public schools, and create technology tools for the classroom. Some of the schools featured in Waiting for “Superman” were built by organizations in the NewSchools portfolio. NewSchools and its portfolio of entrepreneurs are developing innovative solutions to address the toughest challenges facing public education and create better opportunities for all of our nation’s children.

“With the hard work that these new investments will support, we will move a bit closer to a day when a good public education is a right for every child,” Mitchell said. “No child should have to win a lottery to get on the path to college.”

Founded in 1998, NewSchools has been committed for more than a decade to transforming public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs so that all children – especially those in underserved communities – have the opportunity to succeed. To achieve this goal, NewSchools has supported more than 40 education entrepreneurs, helping them to build strong, high-impact organizations making a real difference in the lives of children and connecting their work to the broader public education reform movement to catalyze broader systems change.

Waiting for “Superman,” directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth), was released under the Paramount Vantage banner and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It examines the crisis of public education in the United States through multiple interlocking stories. Designed to start a national conversation, the movie and corresponding “Take the Pledge” campaign aim to inspire everyone to create innovative and long-term solutions to help change the course of our kids’ lives for the better. The “Pledge Progress Meter” launched in May as a way for non-profits, foundations, and corporations to match individual pledge levels with powerful action items aimed at helping both students and public schools.

The film opened in New York and Los Angeles on September 24, nationwide in October. The film is produced by Lesley Chilcott, with Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann serving as executive producers. It is written by Davis Guggenheim & Billy Kimball.

For more information about the movie, or to take the pledge go to To join the conversation visit us on Facebook at or Twitter at

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund seeks to transform public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs so that all children – especially those in underserved communities – have the opportunity to succeed. As a national nonprofit venture philanthropy firm, NewSchools supports education entrepreneurs, a special breed of innovators who create new nonprofit and for-profit organizations that redefine our sense of what is possible in public education. Founded in 1998, NewSchools has invested in more than 35 nonprofit and for-profit organizations and raised nearly $150 million. NewSchools takes an active role with each venture in our portfolio to help them create sustainable organizations that generate breakthrough results at scale for the students they serve. In addition to this direct support to entrepreneurs, NewSchools also connects their work to the broader public education reform movement to catalyze systems change.

About Paramount Pictures Corporation

Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. The company’s labels include Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Digital Entertainment, Paramount Famous Productions, Paramount Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., Paramount Studio Group, and Worldwide Television Distribution.

About Participant Media

Participant Media is a Los Angeles-based entertainment company that focuses on socially relevant, commercially viable feature films, documentaries and television, as well as publishing and digital media. Participant Media is headed by CEO Jim Berk and was founded in 2004 by philanthropist Jeff Skoll, who serves as Chairman. Ricky Strauss is President.
Participant exists to tell compelling, entertaining stories that bring to the forefront real issues that shape our lives. For each of its projects, Participant creates extensive social action and advocacy programs, which provide ideas and tools to transform the impact of the media experience into individual and community action. Participant’s films include The Kite Runner, Charlie Wilson’s War, Darfur Now, An Inconvenient Truth, Good Night, and Good Luck, Syriana, Standard Operating Procedure, The Visitor, The Soloist, Food, Inc., The Informant!, The Cove, The Crazies, Oceans, Furry Vengeance, CASINO JACK and the United States of Money, Countdown to Zero and Waiting for “Superman.”

Media Contacts:

NewSchools Venture Fund
Julie Petersen
Communications Director
(415) 615-6863
[email protected]

Paramount Pictures
Katie Martin Kelley
EVP, Publicity
(323) 956-2821
[email protected]

Participant Media
Jeff Sakson
SVP, Publicity
(310) 550-5109
[email protected]