Innovative Schools Application

Funding Opportunity – Apply to Create a New School!

We are looking for educators who are designing new, innovative public schools launching in Fall 2023. Through this annual funding opportunity, we help early-stage charter organizations launch their first and/or second school in a new network, and support district schools with the autonomy to develop and implement innovative instructional designs. While the ideas we support will involve varying approaches, all the schools in our portfolio are committed to three design principles: an expanded definition of student success, equity and innovation. In addition, these teams aspire to expand their impact by serving more students directly or by influencing the work of other educators. We are accepting submissions now through January 7, 2022 until 5pm PT.

Need more information? On November 10, we hosted a webinar to share more about what we’re looking for, walk through the application, and answer additional questions. Take a look at the webinar recording and presentation slides to learn more. You may also email any questions to invent@newschools.org

What We Offer

Our goal is to accelerate a team’s progress towards designing and opening an innovative school by providing assistance in three key areas:

  1. Financial support: We provide a one-year grant of $215,000 to support a team’s planning year (12-14 months prior to opening a new school). Each team is also eligible to receive additional funding to support the school’s first three years of operation.
  2. Community of Practice: Teams participate in an active community of practice to build relationships with and learn from peer organizations from across the country.
  3. Management assistance: We provide teams with relevant, timely and differentiated support. This includes access to experts in the field, coaching, and resources to meet teams where they are.

Who We’re Looking For

To be considered for an investment, applicants must:

  • Plan to open a new, innovative public school in fall 2023, including:
    • New district schools
    • The first or second school of an emerging public charter school network
    • A new school with a different model in an existing network
  • Enroll students within the PK-12 grade span on a full-time basis
  • Be eligible to receive public funding
  • We are open to ​​funding brick-and-mortar, virtual and hybrid school models

We have included our investment criteria below that provide more details of what we are looking for.

Highly Encouraged to Apply:

This year, we are particularly interested in the following:

  • School districts: Twenty-nine percent of the schools we funded last year were autonomous district schools. We believe that school districts can create new learning environments that lead to academic and social-emotional success for all students, especially low-income students and students of color. We seek to increase the number of district schools in our portfolio.
  • Latino leaders: Currently, only 10% of our school founders identify as Latino, yet 26% of public students do. We need to tap into the entrepreneurial energy within the Latino community to fund relevant and effective school designs that meet the needs of all students.
  • New models that emphasize multiple pathways: We are particularly interested in new models that guide students through the transition from high school to employment and continued learning. We are committed to supporting schools that share this vision and operationalize it through their innovative model.
  • Virtual and hybrid school models: Given the realities of the pandemic and the needs of students and families, we are interested in supporting more virtual and hybrid school models that center an expanded definition of student success, equity, and innovation.

Timeline:

Apply here by January 7, 2022 until 5pm PT. We will invite a group of teams to interview with us in February and March. We will finalize our decisions by April 2022.

Key Dates

  • Application opens: October 25, 2021
    • Applicant supports
      • Webinar: 11/10  (recording and slides)
      • Office Hours: Wednesday, 12/15 2:00 – 3:00pm PT (Sign up)
        • Office hours are informal and a time for you to ask any questions you have regarding the funding opportunity or application. A link to register for the office hours will be posted after our informational webinar.
      • NewSchools staff will be offline due to the holidays and will not be able to support with application questions: December 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022
  • Application closes: January 7, 2022 at 5pm PT
  • Interviews with the NewSchools team: February-March
    • Additional guidance will be given to the selected applicants on how to prepare for this stage
  • Notification of final funding decision by the end of April

Want to get updates on this funding opportunity?

Fill out this interest form and we will add you to our distribution list.

Investment Criteria

Build passionate, capable and diverse teams

We seek mission-driven, innovative leaders who show passion, visionary leadership, personal integrity, and the ability to achieve outstanding results. However, they cannot do this work alone, and must also recruit and lead a team with the competencies, experiences and diversity necessary to design and launch an innovative public school. Collectively, this team must bring skills and relevant backgrounds in instruction, equity, school management and operations, as well as an emphasis on innovation and continuous improvement. Leaders should be open to working closely with us and being an active member of communities of practice with fellow portfolio members.

Engage the communities they aim to serve

The teams we support focus their efforts on serving student populations that have been traditionally underserved or overlooked. We expect teams to engage students, families and community members early and often to inform all aspects of design and planning. By seeking to understand the needs, interests and aspirations of the people they aim to serve, teams can not only design a better school, but also create the necessary relationship to sustain it over time.

Reimagine the student experience

We seek teams that develop school models that bring to life an expanded definition of student success, equity, and innovation. The model should integrate all of these components and create a seamless student experience that achieves a broad set of outcomes.

  • Expanded Definition of Student Success: Every young person should finish high school prepared and inspired to pursue a life full of opportunity, choices, connection and meaning. To realize this aspiration, students need a strong academic foundation, as well as other mindsets, habits and skills that are correlated with success in life. 
  • Equity: School leaders must prioritize equity – holding high expectations and ensuring learning outcomes are not predictable by race/ethnicity, income, gender, or geography. Educators should work closely with families to create schools that embody their aspirations for their children and implement instructional approaches to meet the needs of every student. ​
  • Innovation: Most existing schools were designed for a different time and purpose. We need to redesign schools, so they work better for today’s students. Innovation can and should take many forms, including combining new ideas with proven practice.

Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

We believe — and research demonstrates — that teams that are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are better equipped to meet the needs of the students and communities they serve. We seek teams that embrace this commitment by developing comprehensive strategies with measurable goals to prioritize DEI in their school models. In addition, teams confront issues of race, class, gender and ability, and recruit diverse board members, leadership teams and staff to reflect the students they serve. Teams should enable students from all backgrounds, learning styles and abilities to succeed.

Plan appropriately and execute effectively

Teams must be able to turn their vision into reality. We look for teams with a comprehensive plan to achieve a successful school launch, and evidence that a team is on track to realize those goals. During the planning year, we pay particular attention to the following critical milestones: hiring the leadership team, engaging families and community, finalizing an instructional model, securing a facility, securing charter approval or a district MOU, executing a student recruitment plan, and hitting fundraising targets.  We also look for a reasonable school-level financial model that achieves sustainability on public funds by the fifth year of operation.

Aspire to expand their impact beyond a single school

We partner with innovators in the early stages of developing a new school model with the potential to dramatically improve student learning and advance equitable opportunity. Our long-term goal is to have a catalytic impact on student success nationally, so we fund innovators that seek to expand their impact significantly over time. This might be in the early stages of development and can happen in a range of ways such as school replication, codifying and sharing innovative school practices, developing new talent solutions and/or influencing the work of others.

FAQs

We have summarized some frequently asked questions below. You can also email any questions to invent@newschools.org

No, some of the charter schools that we fund have not received authorization by the application deadline so this is not a barrier to receive funding. That said, we do want to see a plan for when and how your team plans to achieve this critical milestone.

We are looking to see that district schools have certain autonomies as it relates to hiring, instructional design, and school management. These autonomies do not have to be in formal policy for the timeline of the application.

You can use the funding for any expenses except capital expenses (e.g. facilities).

This funding opportunity is open for new schools launching in the Fall of 2023. We are not funding any restarts, turnarounds, or existing schools that are being redesigned. We are also not funding any schools within schools.

We understand these designations vary from school to school. Generally, we consider a turnaround as replacing some aspects of leadership and staff at an existing school. We consider a restart as a transfer control of an existing school to another school operator. At this time, we are not providing funding to existing schools. If you are unsure if we would consider your school a restart or turnaround, please reach out to us at invent@newschools.org

Yes, both virtual and hybrid school models are eligible for this opportunity. These schools must be new public schools that are eligible to receive public funding. Furthermore, it must be a new district school, the first or second school of an emerging public charter school network, or a new school with a different model in an existing network.

If the preschool center only serves Pre-K students, then no, it would not be eligible. To be eligible, the school must also serve multiple grades in the K-12 grade span at full enrollment.

Unfortunately, we do not have an open funding opportunity at this time for teams launching schools in Fall 2022.