Innovative Schools Funding Opportunity

The planning application for teams launching in fall 2025 is closed.
Interviews will take place March – April and final decisions will be made by the end of May.

We are looking for educators who are designing new, innovative public schools launching in Fall 2025. 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 develop and implement innovative designs for new schools. While the ideas we support will involve varying approaches, all the schools in our portfolio are committed to a student-centered vision and these three design principles: an expanded definition of student success, equity and innovation. These teams aspire to expand their impact by serving more students directly or by influencing the work of other educators. 

We are also interested in learning more about these emerging innovations:

  • New approaches to strategic school staffing, including efforts to redesign the teaching role and reimagine school staffing structures to meet the needs of students and make the work more sustainable
  • The use of generative AI to personalize student learning experiences, support teacher practice and effectiveness, and enable next generation assessments
  • Flexible learning models, inclusive of virtual and hybrid schools, which support students to acquire and apply skills and knowledge in real-world settings and in their broader community
  • Models that support post-secondary pathways to success, helping young people identify their passions and interests early (grades 6-8), provide meaningful exposure to enriching academic and career opportunities (grades 9-12), increase access to accelerated pathways to earn meaningful credentials and/or college credit (grades 11+), and provide navigation support along the way
  • New approaches and school models that support multilingual learners, students with learning differences and those dually identified. These models should promote belonging for students and their families

The application is now closed.

Need more information? View our webinar and webinar slide deck where we share more about what we’re looking for, walk through the application, and answer questions from potential applicants.

You may also share your questions here and we will get back to you with an answer.

NewSchools invests in diverse school founders who have a deep connection to the communities they serve. We recognize the profound value of leaders who share the backgrounds and experiences of the students in their communities and highly encourage these leaders to apply. We especially seek to invest in more Latino and Indigenous leaders who are underrepresented in education innovation and school leadership roles.

To be considered for an investment, applicants must:

  • Plan to open a new, innovative public school in Fall 2025, including:
    • New district schools
    • The first or second school of an emerging public charter school network
    • A new school with a significantly different model in an existing network
    • Tribally controlled schools and those operated by the Bureau of Indian Education
  • 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.

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

  • 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 apply for additional funding to support the school’s first three years of operation.
  • Community of Practice: Teams participate in an active community of practice to build relationships with and learn from peer organizations from across the country.
  • 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.

Apply by January 16, 2024 5pm PT. We will invite a group of teams to interview with us in March and April. We will finalize our decisions by May 2024.

  • November 6, 2023: Application opens
  • December – January: One-on-One Coaching Sessions
    • Dates: December 4, December 11, December 13, and January 9
    • A 20-minute call to speak to a NewSchools team member who can answer complex questions, bring more clarity to your idea or provide additional support.
    • Please view the webinar and webinar slide deck before your coaching call
  • January 16, 2024 at 5pm PT: Application closes
  • March – April: Interviews with the NewSchools team
    • Additional guidance will be given to the selected applicants on how to prepare for this stage
  • End of May: Notification of final funding decision

Want to get updates on additional funding opportunities? Fill out this interest form and we will add you to our distribution list.

Build passionate, capable and diverse teams

We seek mission-driven, innovative leaders who show passion, visionary leadership, personal integrity, self-awareness, 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, talent development,  school management, governance, 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 design 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. Teams should enable students from all backgrounds, and abilities to succeed. 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. 

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have summarized some frequently asked questions below. You can also submit your questions here

Charter schools do not need to be authorized by the application deadline in order to move forward in the application process. If a school receives a grant, we do, however, take into account any significant barriers to charter authorization which may be imminent before we disburse funding. In general, 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 but do need to be determined prior to opening to be eligible for additional funding. We also require that districts have a letter of support, signed by your superintendent or designee at the time of application.

This funding opportunity is open for new schools launching in the Fall of 2025. We are not funding any restarts, turnarounds, replications or expansions within established charter management organizations, 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 of control from 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 share your questions here

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.

We will not have an open funding opportunity for teams launching in Fall 2024.