Learning Solutions – Whole School Models


All students deserve seamless educational experiences that build their literacy skills and prepare them for life beyond the classroom. Across the country, diverse innovators are working alongside educators and communities to develop tools, content, and models that achieve this goal and reimagine learning. To get there, we invest in early stage, equity-centered innovators that partner with schools and have the potential to support the academic and social emotional growth of millions of students across our country.

Through the Learning Solutions funding opportunity, NewSchools is investing up to $2.5 million in whole-school solutions that positively impact students of color and low-income students. We are looking for early-stage, equity-centered entrepreneurs who will partner with schools to implement innovative models or programs that can improve teaching and learning. 

Applications were due Aug 27, 2021 at 11:59 pm PT. We are no longer accepting applications for this funding round. 

What We Offer

Funded organizations will receive support in four key areas:

  • Funding: A one-year grant of $150,000 to $350,000, available to both nonprofit and for-profit organizations.
  • Management assistance: 
    • Coaching / 1:1 supports: Access to relevant, timely, and customized support from our team and external experts.
    • Communities of practice: Opportunities to build relationships with and learn from other Learning Solutions innovators.
    • R&D support: Additional capital to support customized efficacy research studies that better inform how to reach and meet the needs of students of color and low-income students, etc.  

What We’re Looking For

We seek early-stage, whole-school solutions that meet the following criteria. See our FAQs below for more details. 

  • Align with NewSchools’ overarching investment criteria
  • Offer a comprehensive model that reimagines the full student experience, with a focus on equity, academic growth, and social-emotional development
  • Engage in deep partnership with schools to support successful implementation, with the intention of building a school’s capacity over time to sustain the model themselves
  • Ensure a coherent and positive experience for educators and students by providing partner schools with a bundle of instructional and operational resources, with aligned training and ongoing support
  • Leverage the power of the network by facilitating sharing among schools and seeking their input to improve the model

For this opportunity, we are looking to support new and existing organizations that are in the first five years of partnering with schools to implement a whole-school learning solution that aligns with the criteria above. We are open to supporting a very early-stage solution so long as there is a credible plan to implement it in at least two partner schools in the 2022-23 school year. We will want to see a proof of concept, a full-time person dedicated to managing it, and an initial business model. We encourage you to review the FAQs below and to reach out to our team to discuss your eligibility. 

We respect each person’s unique identity and equitably consider applicants from all backgrounds. Given our strategic focus, we’re especially interested in connecting with innovators whose personal experiences are aligned with our target student populations. This includes but is not limited to Black and Latino leaders, leaders who have experienced poverty, were or are English Language Learners, and leaders with disabilities. 

Timeline and Key Dates

We will invite a small group of applicants to interview with us and submit additional information by late September. We will finalize investment decisions by late November.

  • Application opens: Aug 4, 2021
  • Application closes: Aug 27, 2021
  • Notification of application status: late September 
  • Submission of additional information: early October 
  • Phone interviews and reference calls: late September – mid October
  • Notification of final funding decision: late November 

If your solution is literacy-focused but not a whole-school model, we are still interested in your idea. Submit your idea here, and in 2022 we will have additional funding opportunities in this area. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our team for clarification. 


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

  • AppleTree – Every Child Ready: AppleTree is committed to closing the achievement gap before children get to Kindergarten. Through its early learning model, Every Child Ready (ECR), AppleTree provides three- and four-year-old students with social, emotional and cognitive foundations. The model supports schools with curriculum, professional learning and assessments and an overall opportunity to expand into pre-K. 
  • 3DE: 3DE is an experiential-learning high-school model focused on connecting students to the real world through business leaders, business cases and career readiness. Their model provides an instructional model from grades 9 to12, supporting students to build out their skillset inside and outside the classroom over four years.

  • The solution needs to impact a meaningful portion of the school day. This would put single course or afterschool programs out of scope. An in-scope example might be a solution that trains all teachers in the school on inquiry-based education and provides social studies and ELA curricula at multiple grade levels. 
  • The solution should support students in PreK-12 (ages 3-18). For example, a program that supports students from 9th grade to their first year of postsecondary education would be in scope, but a program that supports only students after high school would be out of scope. 
  • This opportunity is not intended to support efforts by organizations to open and/or directly operate schools. School operators that apply must also partner with other schools to implement their learning solutions. In such cases, our funding would be intended to support just your external partnership work. If you are interested in learning more about NewSchools’ Innovative Schools Portfolio, you can find more information here.

We are open to supporting learning solutions that only serve a portion of students in a school as long as they are demographically representative of the larger school community.

You do not need to provide a core curriculum to be in scope. However, we do expect whole-school solutions to influence core curriculum and instruction choices. For example, the solution might not replace the ELA curriculum, but it may help a school choose a new core curriculum or augment existing solutions to make it more culturally relevant or rigorous.

We do not support franchised models that seek to perfectly replicate every aspect of the model at each school. And we do not support efforts that are tailored for each school site. We seek solutions that replicate aspects of a program while allowing for the flexibility to meet a school’s specific needs.

We are open to high, low, or no-tech solutions.

Yes! We are open to solutions that are built or curated from pre-existing curriculum and approaches. For example, a solution might seamlessly bring together pre-existing ELA curriculum, SEL support, and an instructional approach, and the innovation is creating an integrated experience for students.

We currently do not fund policy efforts.

If you are an international organization, you are eligible to apply. However, we will want to see that your organization has made a firm commitment to the U.S. public school market and already has operations on the ground to that end.

No, we can grant funds through fiscal sponsors or to individuals directly, but we expect that you are working towards securing your non-profit or for-profit status.

In addition to non-dilutive grant capital, we set aside a pool of restricted funds for research and equity support during the 12-months following the grant. ​Once you are in the NewSchools portfolio, you also get to be a part of the NewSchools community of practice. This is a space where you get to build relationships with other entrepreneurs, who are working on ideas that may be different from yours but are focused on the same end goal of supporting literacy as a lever for equity. We try to curate content and experiences that will inspire, connect, and essentially build knowledge. ​Lastly, the management assistance that we provide to organizations is led by our internal team. You will have access to coaching from the team as well as access to our network of resources and technical experts. ​