NewSchools Ignite

Accelerating innovation in PreK-12 ed tech market gaps.

Learn more about the Expanded Definition of Student Success Challenge!

NewSchools Ignite supports entrepreneurs working to address the most pressing gaps in PreK-12 education technology. To catalyze product growth in areas important to teachers and students where innovation is lagging, we run national challenges that mobilize entrepreneurs to bring their best ideas forward. We make grants to the most promising teams (for-profit and nonprofit) to advance their product roadmaps and test their solutions with teachers and students. We also provide grant recipients with targeted support and feedback from researchers, educators, investors and other experts.

Since Summer 2015, we have launched seven challenges:

Through this work, we seek to cultivate high-impact, sustainable and scalable innovations that will improve academic and social outcomes for millions of children. Over time, we hope to help all stakeholders better understand what it takes to develop high quality digital tools that benefit students and teachers across the United States.

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NewSchools Ignite is an initiative of NewSchools Venture Fund, a philanthropic investor headquartered in Oakland, California. Since 1998, NewSchools has financed and supported more than 100 innovative education entrepreneurs, and built a track record of bringing together diverse communities to share ideas and knowledge aimed at improving public education. NewSchools Ignite grantees must be working on projects that are aligned with NewSchools’ charitable purpose of transforming public education so that all children – especially those in underserved communities – have the opportunity to succeed.


What is the focus of NewSchools Ignite?

NewSchools Ignite is an initiative of NewSchools’ Ed Tech team, focused on accelerating innovation in K-12 edtech market gaps. We select investment areas based on market research including input from a diverse group of educators and edtech decision-makers, then create opportunities for companies and nonprofits working in these areas to apply for funding as well as other support.

Who can apply? What are the criteria?

The NewSchools Ignite program is open to entrepreneurs working to develop engaging, technology-enabled learning experiences, assessments and other digital tools that support students’ academic and social development. To be eligible for funding, applicants must be working on projects that are aligned with NewSchools’ charitable purpose of transforming public education so that all children – especially those in underserved communities – have the opportunity to succeed.

We are looking for companies and nonprofits developing products that:

  • ignite students’ curiosity and facilitate deeper learning;
  • address one or more of the critical student needs identified by educators;
  • are accessible and usable by a wide range of children – especially underserved student populations;
  • are designed to help students take ownership of their own learning;
  • support teachers’ delivery of tailored instruction;
  • have potential to achieve wide distribution and generate sustainable revenue; and
  • align with the NewSchools’ diligence and investment criteria.
What company/product stage is this program designed to support?

The NewSchools Ignite virtual accelerator program is designed to support companies and organizations creating products across a wide developmental spectrum, ranging from early- to growth-stage. To be considered for funding, applicants must submit at least one product as part of their application (prototypes are accepted).

What is a “virtual accelerator program”?

While our program includes two in-person convenings, challenge winners do not need to re-locate to participate in other program elements. Our virtual accelerator program will last for approximately twelve months, featuring targeted content and feedback delivered via phone/video meetings, web-based presentations, and opportunities for online collaboration. Read more about our program.

What type of financial support will selected applicants receive?

In addition to participation in two in-person convenings and a twelve-month virtual accelerator program, challenge winners will receive grants ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 (depending on product stage).

Does NewSchools receive equity from participants?

All funds distributed to participants will take the form of grants. NewSchools will NOT request equity in exchange for participation.

If you have additional questions, feel free to email us at ignite@newschools.org.