NewSchools invests in education technology that increases the availability and effectiveness of products that deepen and enrich student learning. These tools are developed by companies and nonprofits creating innovative solutions to help address the most pressing needs identified by teachers and students.
We identify the most promising teams of innovators, educators and entrepreneurs working to create technology needed by students and teachers in innovative public schools. We provide these teams with the risk capital and support they need as well as management assistance and customized resources to help them achieve their missions more quickly and with higher quality.
To supplement our funding and management assistance, we engage external researchers to provide research services and other resources to challenge winners. The primary goal of our research support is to provide actionable feedback from researchers and educators that drives product improvement, builds ventures’ internal capacity to support future incorporation of research into product development, and helps ventures take the next step on their journey toward collecting rigorous evidence of positive student impact. We also use our voice to highlight important ed tech needs, amplify the work of our ventures, and provide resources to support successful ed tech development for innovative public schools.
Between 2015 and 2019, we launched seven challenges that mobilized more than 80 companies and nonprofits working to meet critical student needs in science, middle and high school math, English language learning, special education, early learning, the future of work, and an expanded definition of student success.
Impact and Strategy
Invested into 85 ventures
Students and teachers served
Ventures with evidence of learning outcomes
Since 2015, we’ve used a “challenge” model rather than a traditional investment approach. Challenges help surface innovative ideas and solutions that address critical learning needs teachers and students identify as important, but where innovation is lagging. Our market analysis indicated that while ed tech products have grown rapidly in some market segments over the last decade, significant gaps exist in others. Our team conducts primary market research with educators, students and researchers to identify critical student needs where the availability or quality of ed tech tools is lacking, and then we work to attract talented innovators to address them.
We seek innovators 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, ventures must be working on projects that are aligned with NewSchools’ charitable purpose of transforming public education so that all students – 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.
The NewSchools 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).
Our investments enabled companies in our portfolio to grow their users by 70 percent to more than 18.9 million students and teachers. We ask our ventures to focus on equity by ensuring their products reach students in underserved communities and we’re proud that our ed tech portfolio currently serves Black, Latino, and low-income students at a higher percentage than the national average. Fifteen percent of the entrepreneurs we’ve invested in are Black or Latino, and altogether the companies we’ve backed have gone on to raise $166 million in follow-on funding, or 21 times our initial investment.
Ed Tech Ventures
NewSchools supports companies and nonprofits creating innovative products to help address the most pressing needs identified by teachers and students. Explore our current and past ventures.
Entrepreneur: Mark Angel, Pete Jungwirth
For-profit | Founded: 2018 | Visit the Site
Amira Learning was part of the Expanded Definition of Student Success Ed Tech Challenge. Funds supported Amira Learning’s Intelligent Reading Assistant that listens, assesses, and coaches students to accelerate reading mastery.
Entrepreneur: Brendan Finch
For-profit | Visit the Site
BirdBrain Technologies was part of the Science Learning Ed Tech Challenge. Funds supported BirdBrain’s adaptive science platform that ensures every student in a classroom can read, grow, and learn independently.
Entrepreneur: Tammy Kwan, Dr. Brenden Lake
For-profit | Visit the Site
Cognitive ToyBox was part of the Early Learning Ed Tech Challenge. Funds supported Cognitive ToyBox’s science-backed learning games for early childhood.
Entrepreneur: Dana Pagar, Kara Carpenter, Rachael Labrecque
For-profit | Visit the Site
Teachley was part of the Early Learning Ed Tech Challenge. Funds supported Teachley’s math games that replace formative assessments and give K-5 teachers insight about what to teach next.
The NewSchools-Gallup Ed Tech Survey: Full Report on Usage by Educators and TeachersLearn More
The NewSchools-Gallup report on ed tech usage by educators and students offers a comprehensive look at PreK-12 ed tech perceptions and usage.
An ed tech entrepreneur’s guide to using research to improve productsLearn More
An entrepreneur's guide to using research to improve products and measure impact.
Lessons from four years of investing in ed tech: 2015-2019Read the Insight Brief
This Insight Brief focuses on critical issues we’ve learned from our ed tech investments in in science, middle and high school math, English language learning,…