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.