News + Ideas

News Release – NewSchools Announces Up to $8 Million in New Funding Opportunities

Entrepreneurs and educators: Looking to reimagine learning? Then we’re looking for you!

(Oakland, CA, August 1, 2017) — NewSchools Venture Fund may have the opportunity of a lifetime for teams of educators and entrepreneurs with bold ideas for reimagining PreK-12 learning. Dreaming of opening a new school? Perhaps you’re building an ed tech tool for early learners, or maybe you have a passion for increasing the number of Black and Latino leaders in the education sector. If any of these scenarios sound like you or someone you know, NewSchools may be able to make that dream a reality.

NewSchools finds, funds and supports teams of educators and entrepreneurs working to achieve outstanding results for the schools and students they serve. All told, NewSchools will offer up to $8 million in funding across all three of our investment areas:

  • Creating innovative district and charter schools;
  • Building technology tools to better support student learning; and
  • Cultivating pipelines of diverse leaders in education.

“With this investment opportunity, we are looking for bold ideas for how to reimagine learning. We believe all young people should finish high school with a wide range of options and the freedom to pursue them,” said Stacey Childress, CEO, NewSchools Venture Fund. “That’s why our investments are aimed at ensuring students develop a strong academic foundation and the mindsets, skills and habits they need for success in today’s world.”

To achieve this goal, NewSchools invests in three areas: innovative schools designed to meet the needs of every student; tools and services students and teachers in such schools need; and more diverse education leaders who will create more effective and sustainable. Each NewSchools investment area will launch new funding opportunities on August 1. Funding will also be supplemented with management assistance and collaboration within a cohort of other organizations that also receive funding.

For more information about the three specific funding opportunities, please visit the NewSchools website and see below.

Innovative Schools — We invest in new and redesigned PreK-12 public schools all over the country, in districts and charter networks. We’re looking for schools that prepare students – regardless of the future they might want to pursue – with everything they need to be successful in college, career and life.  NewSchools is seeking teams of educators who begin with a clear definition of student success as their guide, and can design a school that meets the full range of their students’ needs. These schools are implementing new approaches to ensure students’ learning experiences are more personalized – tailored to their individual needs, skill levels, and interests. Investments include new schools, redesigned schools, and partnerships with model providers. However, this particular funding opportunity will focus only on teams planning to launch a new school in the next 1-3 years.

“Young people need a strong academic foundation, but they also need a wider range of skills to reach their fullest potential,” said Scott Benson, managing partner at NewSchools Venture Fund. “And we’ve seen this is in action, which is why we invest in schools that also help students build mindsets, skills and habits like self-awareness, perseverance, intellectual curiosity, and growth mindset.”

Using a rigorous due diligence process, NewSchools will select the most promising teams of educators for investments in their planning phase. Funding can range from $50,000 – $200,000 and includes participation in a cohort experience to help teams refine their designs and prepare for launch within the next one to two years.  Initial submissions are due by January 2018 and ventures will be selected later in the spring.

Tools & Services – We identify the most promising companies and nonprofits creating innovative ed tech products and services, and provide them with the risk capital and support they need to make those concepts a reality. While the ed tech markets have grown rapidly in certain areas, there are still significant gaps in some critical areas of student need. Tools for early learning is one of those areas, and the current funding challenge will specifically focus on that market gap. Previous grant challenges to date have focused on science learning, middle and high school math, English Language Learners and students with disabilities.

“The foundation of learning is built in the early years of school, and for many students the setbacks or advantages obtained from PreK to second grade will stay with them throughout their academic lives,” said Tonika Cheek Clayton, managing partner, NewSchools Venture Fund. “Personal interaction with teachers and parents is essential for early learners, and we have a particular interest in technology that supports this crucial developmental need.  Ed tech can also support learning with tools that foster social development, reading, language acquisition and early math concepts, while creating excitement and a love of learning. We are hopeful about the possibilities.”

For the Early Learning Challenge — PreK-2nd Grade, NewSchools is seeking a diverse set of entrepreneurs to create exceptional tools and services to support early learning, with submissions due by August 31, 2017. Funding is in the range of $50,000-$150,000, and ventures will be announced in November.

Diverse Leaders – NewSchools provides funding and management assistance to organizations that are strengthening the pipelines of Black and Latino leaders in education. NewSchools invests in ventures focused on diversifying the education sector at all levels of leadership. We also support entrepreneurs who strengthen capacity for education leaders and organizations to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. The Diverse Leaders team has set a goal of having Black and Latino leaders represent at least 40 percent of all education leadership by 2020.

“Over the past year we have learned even more about this work, including helping to lead an effort to understand the state of diversity in the education sector,” said Frances Messano, managing partner, NewSchools Venture Fund. “There is much discussion about the need for greater diversity in education leadership, but this groundbreaking study, “Unrealized Impact,” makes it concrete. We can clearly see the impact, potential and need for greater diversity in education leadership. NewSchools is committed to growing the number of Black and Latino leaders in education.”

This funding opportunity is open to entrepreneurs with ambitious ideas focused on advancing Black and Latino leadership in education. Ideas may include efforts to attract, recruit, develop, retain, and/or place diverse leaders. Funding is in the range of $75,000-$150,000, and submissions are due by September 15, 2017. Decisions will be made in December 2017.


About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit that supports and invests in promising entrepreneurs and teams of educators who want to reimagine learning. We help them accomplish their missions to achieve outstanding results for the schools, students, and educators they serve. We are committed to helping students graduate high school prepared and inspired to achieve their most ambitious dreams and plans. Through our investments, management assistance, network building, and thought leadership, NewSchools helps to reimagine PreK-12 education.


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