NewSchools Venture Fund: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW:  New Schools Venture Fund approaches education from the perspective of venture capital, investing in promising and effective solutions to pressing problems. Its funding initiatives address innovative schools, educational technology and diverse leadership.

IP TAKE: New Schools Venture Fund applies the principals of venture capital to its investments in education, selecting the most promising proposals from both nonprofit and for-profit organizations and individuals for funding. This funder’s initiatives are innovative schools, educational technology and diverse leadership.

PROFILE:  Based in Oakland, California, the New Schools Venture Fund (NSVF) was founded in 1998 by entrepreneur Kim Smith and venture capitalists John Doerr and Brook Byers. The organization models its investment in education on practices that are common to the world of venture capital; projects and ideas are subject to rigorous research, and the most promising receive funding. NSVF’s funding initiatives are innovative schools, education technology and diverse leadership.

NSVF’s innovative schools initiative aims to redesign existing schools and launch new public and public charter schools to meet the needs of today’s students. In Charlotte, North Carolina, one entrepreneur received NSVF funding to create the Charlotte Lab School, which operates cooperatively with the larger Charlotte community to provide student-centered, personalized learning in a partial language immersion setting. NSVS’s technology initiative “invests in promising for-profit and nonprofit entrepreneurs developing digital tools and services that support teaching and learning.” Family Engagement Lab, for example, is a nonprofit that creates digital products for family engagement in education. Listenwise, another technology recipient, is a for-profit company that uses engaging podcasts and related curricula to build listening comprehension and attention in diverse learners. In the area of leadership, NSVF’s aim is for “[b]lack and Latino leaders to represent at least 40 percent of education leadership by 2020.” Toward this end, the organization invests in consulting and advocacy groups such as Rise San Diego, an urban leadership and engagement organization, and Latinos for Education, which develops and places Latino talent in educational leadership positions.

NSVF provides a searchable database of projects that it has supported on its website, as well as recent financial reports. Grants range from about $200,000 to over $1 million.

NSVF accepts inquiries from relevant projects for each initiative on an ongoing basis. The organization’s innovative schools, education technology and diverse leadership application pages each provide links to the initiative’s FAQ, guidelines and forms for submission.


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