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NewSchools Venture Fund: NewSchools Invent

Deadline: October 14, 2016

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 2016, the primary focus is on new schools that will open in Fall 2018. However, schools opening before or after that date will also be considered.

Funding will be provided in two stages. The first phase, which lasts for 14 months from February 2017 to March 2018, provides grant funding and assistance to teams during the critical planning period. The second phase, which begins at the conclusion of the planning period in spring 2018, provides additional grant funding and assistance for a school’s launch and first two to three years of operation.

NewSchools Invent’s investment criteria is detailed below:

  • Serve a significant number of students: Support for ventures with a mission grounded in transforming PreK-12 public education, and a special focus on underserved communities, including students who are: African-American/Black; Hispanic/Latino; low-income; using individualized education plans; and English Language Learners.
  • Embrace an expanded definition of student success and hold all students to high expectations: Support for teams that: 1) develop a clear and compelling definition of student success informed by school priorities, student needs and existing research and leading practices; 2) specify the full spectrum of academic and other competencies that support their definition of student success; and 3) set ambitious but realistic goals for every competency and regularly measure student progress toward each.
  • Reimagine, redesign, and recreate the student experience: Teams must describe to what degree they will integrate: 1) personalization – tailoring the instructional experience to address the individual needs, skills, and interests of each student; and 2) student ownership – placing trust in students by allowing them to manage core aspects of their instructional experience.
  • Desire to expand impact: Two common approaches are of great interest: 1) Creating more schools – for charter schools, this usually involves establishing a Charter Management Organization (CMO) with regional or national reach. For districts, the model is less defined but it might involve the creation of an innovation zone or some other approach to providing more teams of educators with the flexibility and autonomy to design and open exciting new schools. 2) Becoming a model provider: an organization that partners with schools it does not directly operate, helping them adopt an innovative school model by providing a comprehensive set of tools and services.
  • Strong leadership teams: Support for ventures led by mission-driven leaders who demonstrate passion, personal integrity, and the ability to achieve outstanding results for students.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion: Support for ventures that demonstrate a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, specifically through a focus on closing the racial/ethnic demographic gaps that frequently exist between those who work to improve education and the students and communities they serve.
  • Pursue financial stability: Support for teams that show they can reasonably expect to achieve sustainability on public or earned revenue by their fourth year of operation (after a moderate investment from public and private sources, including NewSchools).
  • Plan appropriately and remain on track: NewSchools looks for evidence that a team has already engaged in thoughtful planning and has demonstrated progress toward achieving the appropriate milestones for its stage of development.

Amount: Assistance will be provided in three key areas:

  • Financial support: Planning grants of $100,000 to $200,000 over approximately 12 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: Participating in an active community of practice to build relationships with and learn from peer organizations from across the country.
  • Management assistance: Direct support from NewSchool’s team, and connections to external experts.

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Meet all eight of the NewSchools’ Investment Criteria (detailed above)
  • Plan to launch a new charter or district public school in 2018
  • Enroll students within the PreK-12 grade span (ages 3 – 19) on a full-time basis
  • Be eligible to receive public funding

In addition, charter applicants must:

  • Currently operate either no schools or one school
  • Have or be working towards 501c3 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 that the school will have necessary facilities, funding, and academic and operational autonomies to support the implementation of the school design plan
  • Have ideally identified key members of the founding team

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

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