Our Next Wave of Innovative Public Schools

NewSchools Venture Fund

By Miho Kubagawa, Senior Associate Partner

Students at Solar Preparatory School for Girls in Dallas, Texas

Before I started my career at NewSchools, I worked as a 7th grade math teacher at a new school in Harlem, New York. Over the past few weeks, my former students graduated from colleges all over the country and I could not be more proud. The bond we shared at this new public school in Harlem is still intact today. I credit this bond to the school’s founder Joe Negron. Under his leadership, our school community committed to building a different and strong public school, as evident in our daily morning mantra: “With desire, discipline and dedication, we can change our world and our place within it.” This is the power of new public schools.

Now as a funder of new public schools, I have the unique opportunity to work with our team at NewSchools Venture Fund to find and fund strong teams with bold ideas for new and innovative public schools through our NewSchools Invent program. After receiving more than 120 applications this past winter, our team spent four months in a rigorous diligence process to finalize our decisions that account for nearly $4 million in funding.

Today, we’re excited to announce the 18 teams we are investing in to launch new schools. Collectively they will serve more than 7,400 students — 71% of whom identify as Black or Latino, and 77% of whom are from low-income backgrounds.

We are excited about this group because they demonstrate a deep commitment to creating new public schools that embrace an expanded definition of student success. At NewSchools, we define that as being focused on developing a strong academic foundation in students along with the mindsets, habits and skills they need to graduate high school with choice and meaning. In addition, this group is notable for the following reasons:

  • Nearly 60% of these schools are founded by Black or Latino leaders. As we do every year, we tracked the percentage of Black and Latino school founders throughout every stage of our investment process to ensure the leaders we support reflect the racial demographics of public school students today. We are excited that our investments continue to support our organization’s broader efforts to diversify education leadership.
  • Many of our schools are focused on serving student populations that have been traditionally underserved or overlooked. These student populations include students living in poverty, English language learners and students of color. Some of the schools we fund also serve young people who are adjudicated, in foster care, homeless, emigrants, or teen parents. As a result, all these schools are thinking deeply about how to personalize the learning experience for students and to reimagine learning. In addition, some of our teams are designing schools that integrate with community-based organizations and offer health and human services like housing, child care, employment and mentorship. We predict that what we learn from these schools will be invaluable and will provide insights to the broader sector on how to serve all students well.
  • Our teams are designing with the community rather than imposing a school model onto a community. They are hosting design sessions and running pop-ups to test their models so that they can continuously iterate on the school’s core components. They are also leveraging after-school time, the summer and weekends to create learning experiences that are similar to features of their models. Consistently, we heard clear evidence of how community and student engagement informed and improved their school design.

Please join us in congratulating the bold teams below who are committed to reimagining learning! If you or someone you know is also considering launching a new public school in Fall 2021 or beyond, keep an eye out for our next funding opportunity that is set to launch in early August 2019.

  • BELIEVE Circle City High School (Indianapolis, IN)
  • BRICK Achieve Community Charter School (Newark, NJ)
  • Capital Village Schools (Washington, D.C.)
  • Cascade Public Schools (Kent/Federal Way, WA)
  • Catalyst Public Schools (Bremerton, WA)
  • Escuela Exitos School (Twin Cities, MN)
  • Future is Now Preparatory for Resilient Youth (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Georgia Fugees Academy Charter School (Clarkston, GA)
  • I Dream Academy DC (Washington, D.C.)
  • Impact Salish Sea Elementary School (Seattle, WA)
  • Las Américas ASPIRA High School (New Castle County, DE)
  • LEAD Charter School (Newark, NJ)
  • Lumen High School (Spokane, WA)
  • The Leadership School (St. Louis, MO)
  • The Los Angeles School of Creativity and Technology (Los Angeles, CA)
  • The Social Justice School (Washington, D.C.)
  • Urban Ventures Academy (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Vision Performing Arts College Prep (Aurora, CO)

NewSchools Venture Fund

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NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit venture philanthropy working to reimagine public education.

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