Funding, Grants & Awards

Non-Profit Venture Fund Seeks Science Ed Start-Ups

A venture capital nonprofit has launched an education technology accelerator intended to support entrepreneurs taking on specific challenges. The first challenge for the NewSchools Venture Fund "NewSchools Ignite" initiative will deliver grants to people working on products and services related to helping students learn science.

NewSchools invests in both for-profit and non-profit organizations that are working to improve public education. Its venture portfolio includes investments in more than a hundred entities, including Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, Khan Academy and LearnZillion.

Its latest endeavor could distribute as much as $1.5 million in grants to up to 15 challenge winners building digital solutions to enhance science learning. The grants will range from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the stage of the product development.

The Ignite team is collaborating with researchers and science education experts from WestEd, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development and service provider in the education segment. Grant winners will work with WestEd in creating small-scale research studies that target the usability and feasibility of their products in classrooms and the impact on learning outcomes.

"The edtech ecosystem is bubbling over with talent and ideas, yet teachers nationwide have identified a void in digital tools that support science learning across the K-12 spectrum. Our science learning challenge will mobilize entrepreneurs to develop their most promising ideas to fill this void and give them opportunities to receive invaluable feedback from educators and researchers." said CEO Stacey Childress in a prepared statement. "Through this program, we hope to empower more underserved students as explorers and creators, and to ignite students' curiosity for deeper learning across the sciences."

Applications for the science learning challenge are being accepted until September 4, 2015. Challenge winners will be notified by October 5.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.