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NewSchools Places $4 Billion Bet on Future of K–12 Education

A national nonprofit venture philanthropy working to transform public education has released a new report that explains the potential for philanthropy to reimagine K–12 education.  

NewSchools Venture Fund invests in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations that also aim to improve public education. NewSchools has been working with several partners across the country to pursue a common vision: “Reimagining learning with a broad set of outcomes in mind, so that every student finishes high school with an abundance of choices and the freedom to pursue them,” according to the nonprofit’s website. In a recent report, NewSchools has identified philanthropists as key change-makers who are in a position to make a “big bet” (or a meaningful change in philanthropy terms) on education — proposing the idea to channel approximately $4 billion over the next 10 years to dramatically improve the performance of schools.

In the report, “Reimagining Learning: A Big Bet on the Future of American Education,” NewSchools explained that $4 billion makes up less than 20 percent of the total philanthropy expected to flow through K–12 education over the next decade. According to the nonprofit, “philanthropics can create enormous impact by investing in diverse teams of educators who are creating reimagined schools and entrepreneurs who are building the tools that such schools need to be successful.” Furthermore, based on information from several studies cited in the report, NewSchools has estimated a return on investment (ROI) between 200 percent-500 percent for investors.

Based on NewSchools’ vision for how schools can produce better and broader outcomes for students, the report proposes investments in three key areas:

  • Innovative Schools: Creating new schools and redesigning existing ones;
  • Targeted Technology Investments: Supporting a more coordinated effort to catalyze technology breakthroughs that have the potential to improve learning; and
  • Campaign to Foster Understanding and Demand: Generating evidence and stories on innovative schools.

NewSchools considers innovative schools to be ones that embrace an expanded definition of student success, such as Future Ready schools. Its first investment area allocates $3 billion to redesign about 5,800 existing schools and open about 1,200 new charter and school districts over the next 10 years.

The second area involves a $700 million investment to fund long-term R&D efforts “directed at big questions about how to dramatically increase learning outcomes,” and to “identify and address gaps in the availability and effectiveness of products in existing ed tech segments,” according to the report.

Finally, the third investment to start a campaign takes a two-pronged approach: investing $150 million to carry out a coordinated effort to build understanding and demand (inspired by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy and Freedom to Marry), and $50 million to generate evidence and stories about innovative schools.

The full report is available on the NewSchools site here.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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