Why I Love February… Black History starts with Diverse Leaders in Education

February 5, 2019

This blog is also cross-posted on Medium.

Have you ever heard the adage, “If you can read this, thank a teacher”? During February, Black History Month, we pay special attention to the contributions of Black Americans, and many of those contributions would not have been possible without Black educators.

It has become a tradition at NewSchools to announce new investments in our Diverse Leaders portfolio during this month. And it seems fitting, since a great deal of Black history began with Black educators. As always, we are thrilled to share this news and unveil the newest group of Diverse Leaders ventures working to introduce fresh faces and alternative voices to education leadership. Please join us in showing them some love today!:

Some may ask why there is a need to diversify education leadership. We say the need has never been greater. Students in PreK-12 schools today are the most racially diverse in American history. They need leaders who share their cultural backgrounds and can help them develop their sense of self and skills to navigate our race-fraught society.

It is clear to nearly anyone living in the United States today that we never did become a post-racial society. Racial tensions are more heated and visible now than at any point in recent memory. Politicians and average citizens alike are questioning what it means to be American when some citizens still face barriers to the Constitution’s promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In these challenging times, NewSchools remains all the more committed to do the work we do. We find, fund and support educators and entrepreneurs who are reimagining education so all children, regardless of their race or any other factor, may pursue their most ambitious dreams. If we can do our part to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education, perhaps future generations will be able to rise above today’s racist rhetoric and race-fueled tragedies.

NewSchools invests in three areas: Innovative Schools, Ed Tech, and Diverse Leaders. The Diverse Leaders strategy was formalized in 2015 to bring the racial demographics of America’s education workforce in balance with the public school student population. That means we aim to see Black and Latino leaders to represent at least 40 percent of the PreK-12 education workforce, mirroring the demographics of U.S. students today. With more diverse leaders, research shows that education organizations will make better decisions, enjoy greater staff retention and staff satisfaction, and produce better student outcomes.

Along with diverse headcount, however, it is vitally important that education organizations adapt diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of their culture and way of operating. If we can foster truly diverse, equitable and inclusive environments in our schools and in the education field more broadly, we will have a head start on helping the rest of society to value and respect differences among us.

Our six new Diverse Leaders ventures were selected from a national pool of more than 140 submissions. Sadly, our enthusiasm was bigger than our wallet. We saw more exciting ideas than we could fund in this round. That said, we welcome input about how we can ensure we are unearthing the best ideas from the widest possible pool of entrepreneurs and that our funding focus is where it needs to be to drive the biggest impact. At the same time, we hope that more funders will join us in supporting entrepreneurs of color and those focused on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in education. This work cannot wait!