Innovative Public Schools

Overview

Every child deserves good choices in life — and a school that will open the door to those opportunities. Young people deserve to finish high school prepared to thrive and prosper, to make positive change, and help build an equitable future for everyone. Yet far too few schools are capable of doing that today, especially in Black, Latino and low-income neighborhoods. Schools should offer a pathway to opportunity, but too often, they allow those with advantages to soar while others remain behind.  

We’re committed to supporting educators with bold new visions, and we know that the schools each community needs won’t look the same. That’s why we’re doubling down on our support for founders with innovative designs for new schools. Already, we’ve supported more than 100 diverse teams, and collectively, their students experience an average of an extra 91 days — half a school year — of learning when compared to typical schools. 

Schools must also help children thrive as whole people — not just academically. We believe schools should expand the definition of success and support students to grow academically, socially and emotionally. Over the last three years, we have found that students learn more when they feel physically and emotionally safe; believe their abilities and skills can grow with effort; and develop ways to cope with their stress, emotions, feelings and behaviors. We’re delighted that early indicators are strong, and know it’s just the beginning for schools that are rapidly expanding their supports for students in these areas. And these schools are continuing to grow; when fully enrolled, they will serve 54,000 students, 73% of whom are Black or Latino.  

But while we’re proud of that record, we know we have to do more to meet this moment. That’s why we’re committed to continuing these efforts even as we build on them with new initiatives: to support more Latino school leaders, who are underrepresented in education innovation; to expand our work with school districts; and to foster new models that guide students through the transition from high school to employment and continued learning. In this ongoing moment shaped by COVID, we’re also interested in supporting new approaches that have emerged to improve the quality of distance learning, instead of replicating traditional school environments online. We seek to understand how parents, educators and support organizations partner together to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education, and wonder how the innovations that emerge today will influence student learning in the future.

Our definition of an innovative school is broad, and if you are a school founder with a great idea and plan, we’re hungry to hear from you. While the ideas we support will involve varying approaches, all schools in our portfolio are committed to three design principles:

  • 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.

We provide funding to support a team’s planning year, 12-14 months prior to opening a new school. We are accepting submissions now through January 7, 2022.

Impact

School founders who identify as Black or Latino

Students served at full enrollment

Black or Latino students served

Days of additional learning each year

Innovative Public Schools Ventures

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