Learning Solutions Application

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

Overview

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!

Below, we have posted the link to our 18-minute webinar recording, which shares 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.

Timeline

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:
  • 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

FAQs

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

At NewSchools, we focus on early-stage ideas. We feel that we have the resources, skills, and networks to be able to accelerate and strengthen the success of leaders who are at this stage.​ To this end, we feel that we add the most value to three different types of early-stage solutions

  • For New Ideas, we are open to individuals who have an idea that has not yet been incorporated, but who are looking to incorporate and launch a new organization within the next 12 months. 
  • For New Organizations, we are open to organizations that are typically between 1-3 years old and may or may not already be in the market. 
  • For New Initiatives, we are open to organizations older than 3 years old that may be developing a new idea or product aligned with this opportunity. 

In all of these cases, applicants should consider their solutions to be at a critical inflection point in their development for which this funding and our general support would meaningfully accelerate their impact.

If you are thinking about procuring a literacy solution for your organization or school network, while that is great, this funding is intended to support the development and growth of early-stage learning solutions, not procurement. However, funding can be used to support a school developing a new literacy approach that they may be looking to commercialize in the near future.

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. ​