Learning Solutions Application

Open Funding Opportunity – Literacy Solutions to Empower Black, Latino, and Low-income Students


Literacy is the foundation for all learning. Reading and writing skills empower students to pursue their dreams, enable them to share new ideas, and give them the tools to participate fully in society. Students of all races, abilities, and linguistic backgrounds deserve the opportunity to build literacy skills. In particular, there is a need for literacy content and tools that better meet the unique needs of Black, Latino and low-income students. Learning solutions can create opportunities for effective instruction by honoring these students’ experiences, supporting their academic and social growth, and encouraging them to use their voices – in and beyond the classroom. In this funding opportunity, we will invest $3 million in early-stage innovators working at the intersection of literacy and equity. If you have an idea that will support Black, Latino, and low-income students to build literacy skills, we want to help you achieve your vision. Apply by March 31st!

On Wednesday, March 3rd, at 10am PT / 1pm ET, we will host a webinar (register here) to share more about this funding opportunity, including tips for completing the application. You can also email any questions to learningsolutions@newschools.org.

What We Offer

We offer a simple, open application where you can submit your idea for consideration. We will invite a small group of applicants to participate in our upcoming diligence process (see Key Dates below). For all applicants, we plan to stay in touch, share relevant resources, and keep you informed about future funding or support opportunities. 

Funded organizations will receive support in four key areas:

  • Funding: A one-year grant of $150,000 to $250,000 (depending on stage), available to both non-profit and for-profit organizations.
  • Research and equity support: Additional capital for customized partnerships with researchers and equity-based designers. 
  • Communities of practice: Opportunities to build relationships with and learn from other Learning Solutions founders.
  • Management assistance: Access to relevant, timely and customized support from our team and external experts.

What We’re Looking For

We are investing $3 million in a diverse portfolio of innovators with bold ideas to support Black, Latino, and low-income students to build literacy skills, including:

  • Supplemental tools that seamlessly integrate within existing classrooms – for example, vocabulary building activities used to enhance math lessons.
  • Core instructional approaches that reimagine an entire subject area – for example, an ELA curriculum and teacher supports that improve culturally responsive instruction.

These solutions can be designed to reach students, educators, and parents across a range of learning environments. We are also open to high, low, or no-tech solutions. However, all ideas must be informed by instructional expertise and grounded in research.

We plan to invest primarily in organizations between 0 and 3 years old. In addition, we will consider new initiatives being developed at more mature organizations. We are also open to working with educators or researchers with early ideas and plans to bring promising literacy practices to market within the next year. All applicants must align with NewSchools’ overarching investment criteria.

Given our strategic focus, we’re especially interested in connecting with innovators whose personal experiences are aligned with our target student populations, including Black and Latino leaders, people who have experienced poverty, English Language Learners, and people with disabilities. We respect each person’s unique identity and equitably consider applicants from all backgrounds.


Apply by March 31, 2021. We will invite a small group of applicants to interview with us and submit additional information by April 19. We will finalize investment decisions by June 25.

Key Dates

  • Application opens: February 17
  • Application supports:
    • Webinar – March 3 at 10am-11am PST (register)
    • Office Hours
  • Application closes: March 31 at 11:59 pm PST
  • Notification of application status: by April 19
  • Submission of additional information: by April 30
  • Phone interviews and reference calls: May 17 – May 28 [Interview supports and guidance will be provided to applicants who are invited to this stage]
  • Notification of final funding decision: by June 25