More than 25 million students attending U.S. public schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Many of these students – who are disproportionately students of color – attend schools that are overwhelmed and struggling to keep pace with their changing learning needs and the ongoing challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. While new school creation is a central piece of NewSchools’ investment strategy, the majority of students attend schools that already exist. Our Learning Solutions portfolio ensures that all schools and school systems can access instructional breakthroughs that make learning more equitable and effective. We fund innovative and coherent learning solutions — tools, content and whole-school models — that are rooted in equity and can power new levels of student success.
- Equity-centered design: We prioritize investing in learning solutions created by innovators whose own lives and professional experiences inform their commitment to serving students experiencing poverty and racism, and improving systems to better meet the needs of multilingual learners and students with learning differences. We build, engage, and invest in an ecosystem of early stage, equity-centered leaders who have not historically been on funders’ radars.
- Coherent and relevant student experience: We look for comprehensive solutions that account for the diversity of experiences, identities, and needs of students and educators. It is critical that innovations support both academic and social-emotional growth, and that they are accompanied by the necessary resources and capacity-building support to ensure easy adoption by leaders, teachers, and students. Our work addresses gaps in the market by delivering seamless solutions educators are demanding and supporting innovations that honor students in the full context of their lives.
While there is no shortage of innovations we could pursue to help achieve equity and excellence in education, we are investing in two focus areas — literacy solutions and whole-school models — to move the needle for children right now.
- Literacy content and tools: 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. The idea is not new; literacy has been at the center of educator, researcher, and policymaker efforts for over 30 years. We know more now than ever about how students learn to read and write. Still, we aren’t seeing significant reading gains, and some groups of students have fewer opportunities to build these critical skills. We believe that it’s time to think in a more integrated way about how tools, content, and teaching practices work together to promote equitable and effective literacy learning experiences for students.
- Whole-school models: Our strategy also prioritizes a deep investment in whole-school models – bundled instructional resources that help schools reimagine what’s taught, how it’s taught, and the school culture/climate needed to teach it. We believe students learn best when the elements of a school model work together in a seamless way to support their academic and social-emotional growth. Many excellent instructional resources have been developed in recent years, but it can be challenging for educators to bring these pieces together on their own. What’s needed are whole-school models that weave together well-designed instructional elements into a coherent, unified experience for students and educators. These equity-focused ideas accelerate student learning, especially for learners who have been historically overlooked.
NewSchools is committed to partnering with Learning Solutions innovators to reimagine learning and unlock better outcomes for students across the country.
Students benefiting from tools, services, and solutions
Schools served by whole-school models
Venture leaders who identify as people of color
Additional funding catalyzed by our ventures
Learning Solutions Ventures
Center for Love and Justice
Entrepreneur: Kaleb Rashad, Melissa Daniels, Nikki Hinostro
Nonprofit | Visit the Site
The Center for Love and Justice partners with existing school districts to advance equity for K-12 students through Anti-Racist Deeper Learning. Anti-Racist Deeper Learning involves students doing authentic work while developing the democratic agency to identify, describe, and dismantle oppressive systems and create them anew. The Center provides tools, methods, maps, and coaching to support teachers, school leaders, and communities to achieve these outcomes over the course of a 3-year partnership. Some of these initiatives include Learning through Projects, Making Learning Public, and Activating Student Voice.
Entrepreneur: Rocio Raña, Xuan-Nga Cao
For-profit | Visit the Site
LangInnov has developed BLAST, a bilingual literacy assessment app that can assess pre-literacy skills in both Spanish and English to provide detailed information about a student’s literacy readiness. BLAST seeks to address the issue of a disproportionate number of Latino students being placed in special education programs, and remaining in ESL programs for longer periods than needed, due to not properly understanding students’ literacy levels in both languages. This solution aims to reduce the number of mis-placements in special education by allowing students to use the full range of their bilingual repertoire to demonstrate their linguistic, cognitive, and preliteracy skills in both of their developing languages.
Liberated Way (powered by AUSL)
Entrepreneur: Martin Green, Ulric Shannon, Shelby Hildreth
Nonprofit | Visit the Site
AUSL’s LiberatED Way is an anti-racist, whole-school revitalization model enlivened by local context and assets. It empowers entire school communities to author their school vision and partner in unprecedented ways to catalyze sustainable student academic and whole-child growth in preparation for post-secondary success. This is an 18-month partnership effort where school partners co-design an anti-racist school vision, governance structures, and professional learning and coaching. The anti-racist school vision design and calibration involved a tangible “graduate portrait” developed through an inclusive liberatory design process. Key outcomes include student belonging as well as math and reading growth.
Native American Community Academy (NACA Elementary)
Entrepreneur: Zane Rosette, Joshua Krause
Nonprofit | Visit the Site
Native American Community Academy (NACA) Elementary launched to engage urban Native American children in a rigorous education, based in Indigenous culture, language, tradition, and holistic wellness. NACA’s K-5 Indigenous Literacy Program is a culturally and linguistically revitalizing curriculum designed by Indigenous educators. The literacy program will use texts that center Indigenous peoples so that students see themselves and their communities as they develop the building blocks of literacy so that they may be empowered to pursue their own dreams, develop and share new ideas, and participate fully in society.
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