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Deadline: January 12, 2018

NewSchools Venture Fund: NewSchools Invent

NewSchools Invent is designed for teams of educators who are committed to launching an innovative school and would benefit from additional support. The goal is to accelerate a team’s progress toward a successful launch. For Fall 2017, the primary focus is on new schools that will open in Fall 2019.

Funding will be provided in two stages. The first phase, provides grant funding and management assistance to teams during the critical planning period of up to 14 months before school launch. The second stage provides additional grant funding and assistance for a school’s launch and the first two to three years of operation.

NewSchools Invent’s investment criteria is detailed below:

  • Passionate, capable, and diverse teams of leaders: Entrepreneurial leaders must recruit a diverse leadership team and board with the experiences necessary to design and launch an innovative public school. Collectively, the team must bring skills in instruction, school management, and business operations. Teams must demographically represent the community they wish to serve. They should be active contributors to the community and have done the personal work to identify their own cultural and racial biases.
  • Engage the communities to be served: Teams should focus their efforts on communities who have been traditionally underserved, and a significant percentage of the students they serve must have needs unmet by existing options. Teams are expected to engage students, families, and community members to inform all aspects of design and planning.
  • Reimagine the student experience: Teams are expected to have embraced an expanded definition of student success, balancing rigorous academic expectations with the mindsets, skills, and habits needed for success in life. Specific priorities: 1) students feel ownership of their learning and learning is tailored to each student’s individual needs; 2) students have the opportunity to build relationships with each other, their teachers, and other adults; 3) students feel they belong, learning reflects their culture, and they learn about other cultures; 4) the learning design optimizes time, pace, instructional methods, and outside experiences to enrich student learning; and 5) technology supports learning.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion: Teams are expected to embrace a commitment to diversity and prioritize it in their schools. This includes recruiting ethnically diverse board members, leadership teams, and staff, reflecting the student population. In addition, teams should focus on affirming the identity of staff and students, addressing inequities in access and achievement, and confronting issues of race, class, and privilege.
  • Plan appropriately and execute effectively: Teams must present a plan that includes all milestones needed for a successful school launch. Critical milestones include: hiring the leadership team, recruiting a board, engaging families and community, finalizing an instructional model, securing a facility, securing charter approval or a district MOU, executing a student recruitment plan, developing a financial model, and hitting fundraising targets.
  • Aspire to expand impact beyond a single school: Initial support is focused on helping teams to launch one innovative new school, but the long-term goal is to reimagine the entire PreK-12 education system. At this stage, teams should have developed a reasonable school-level financial model that achieves sustainability on public funds by its fourth year of operation. In addition, teams are asked to offer compelling ideas for scaling their impact over time.

Amount: Assistance will be provided in three key areas:

  • Financial support: Planning grants of $100,000 to $200,000 over 6-14 months. At the end of the planning phase, teams may apply for an investment that would support their first two to three years of operation.
  • Community of practice: Participation in an active community of practice to build relationships with and learn from peer organizations from across the country.
  • Management assistance: Direct support from the NewSchools team, participation in research efforts to inform practice, and connections to external experts (e.g., on student recruitment, fundraising, or board development).

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Meet all six Investment Criteria (detailed above)
  • Plan to launch their first or second district or charter or public school in 2019
  • Enroll students within the PreK-12 grade span on a full-time basis
  • Be eligible to receive public funding

In addition, charter applicants must:

  • Have or be working toward 501(c)3 non-profit status
  • Have an approved charter or be on track toward securing one
  • Have a desire to continue opening new schools (become a CMO)

In addition, district school applicants must:

  • Have a formal letter of endorsement from the board and superintendent (or equivalent)
  • Have or be working toward an agreement with the district office that ensures the school will have necessary facilities, funding and academic and operational autonomies to support the implementation of their school design plan
  • Have ideally identified key members of the school leadership team

Link: http://www.newschools.org/invent/

Note: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis before the January 12, 2018 deadline. Applicants are encouraged to apply when ready.

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