News + Ideas


The Problem:

Parents lacked easy access to information to hold schools accountable for their performance and to help them make choices about their children’s education.

The Innovation:

As a teacher and Internet entrepreneur, Bill Jackson recognized the extraordinary influence that parents have over their children’s education and the great potential of the Internet as a medium to engage and support parents. Jackson created GreatSchools, an online resource with information on 215,000 public and private schools in 15,700 districts, giving parents the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s education.


Today, the GreatSchools website receives over 37 million visitors annually, reaching one in three US families with school-aged children. In addition, GreatSchools produces a School Chooser guide for parents in Washington, DC and Milwaukee, WI. More than 80,000 School Chooser guides are distributed each year, giving parents free, up-to-date information so they can make informed choices about where to send their children to school. GreatSchools is now launching College Bound, an innovative online parent engagement program that helps parents develop the knowledge and skills they need to raise college-ready high school graduates.

How NewSchools helped:

NewSchools was the first investor in GreatSchools in 1998; it helped the organization develop its value proposition and business model, and connected GreatSchools with key organizations in the local advocacy community, as well as partner organizations to host its parent training sessions. “NewSchools has served as a lighthouse for GreatSchools,” Jackson says. “NewSchools helps us understand the big picture of education reform and our potential role in it. NewSchools is ‘smart money’ – the questions that the organization asks us during the investment due diligence process make us smarter.”