What NewSchools Will Do to Diversify Education Leadership

October 29, 2015

In a blog post earlier this week, we shared why closing the racial / ethnic demographic gap between the leadership of education organizations and the students they serve is essential for innovation. At NewSchools we are committed to helping close this gap. Today we are sharing our goals and how we plan to achieve them.

What is our aspiration?

We aspire to increase the number of Black and Latino founders and CEOs, senior leadership team members, and board members to represent at least 30% of all education leadership in our investment portfolio and the broader field by 2020.

We landed on 30% because of current public school student demographics (laid out in the chart in our last post) and because of research related to critical mass theory. As quoted in A Smarter Charter, “the healthiest and most robust conversations take place when members of minority groups do not feel isolated nor feel that they have to ‘represent’ their entire race. (CollegeBoard Advocacy & Education Counsel, 2009). In higher education, critical mass has been estimated as having been met when a school has at least 30% minority representation (M. F. Green, 1989).”

So what will we do?

In order to achieve this goal, NewSchools will support and invest in organizations in the following ways:

  1. Invest in and support ventures directly focused on increasing the number of Black and Latino senior leaders (e.g., founders / CEOs, senior leadership team members, board members) with the potential to make a difference at scale. Examples of current investments include Camelback Ventures and Surge Institute
  2. Select ventures across all our investment areas (Innovative Schools, Tools & Services, and DC Schools Fund) that demonstrate a strong commitment to building diverse leadership teams and boards. Help ventures set and meet diversity-related milestones

We also know that more needs to be done to mobilize the field, including entrepreneurs, donors, and established education organizations, beyond conversation to action. We will work closely with partners to build interest in increasing Black and Latino leaders on senior teams and boards and actively address this issue through thought leadership activities, including our annual Summit.

As part of our commitment to invest and lead on this topic, we are increasing the diversity of our own staff, leadership team, and board, while ensuring we all develop the skills and mindsets to foster an inclusive organization. Our staff is currently 21% Latino, 17% Black, 45% White, and 17% other ethnicities. Our Leadership Team is 14% Latino, 29% Black, and 57% White. We’ve made good progress but will continue to focus on building a diverse team and inclusive culture.

Our board is also committed to this priority. Our current board members come from a variety of industries and roles and bring a range of perspectives given their experience as investors and operators. However, we have work to do to make it more racially and ethnically diverse. We will add a minimum of two new directors who are able to expand the giving capacity of our board and help us deliver on our commitment to diversity over the next 12 months.

We recognize that increased representation of Black and Latino leaders in education is only the first step, and over time we hope that all education organizations are not only diverse but inclusive—places where everyone can show up and participate as their full selves every day and together create more impact for kids. Through our investments, thought leadership, and internal commitments, we aim to accelerate the field’s progress toward diversity and inclusion.

Tune into our blog for updates on our work in the coming months.