NewSchools Venture Fund

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Education Industry badge.png This article is part of the Spinwatch privatisation of Schools Portal project.

NewSchools Venture Fund is described as a 'venture philanthropy organization', a cross between an investment firm and traditional philanthropy. It is has made donations to support hundreds of US charter schools and invests in educational technology companies and other education organisations.

Core business

Since 1998, the NewSchools Venture Fund has set out to reform America's education system by raising philanthropic capital and spending it on education entrepreneurs who it considers to be 'transforming public education'. This has included many education technology companies, such as the Khan Academy and privately-run charter schools management companies, which are often early adopters of education technology products. These include Aspire Public Schools, KIPP and Rocketship Education. In 2013 it partnered with a venture capital fund, Rethink Education Fund, to invest in education start-ups. In 2015 it spun off its ed tech startup Seed Fund as a for-profit investment firm.[1]

Lobbying for 'Education Reform'

The NewSchools Venture Fund sees lobbying for education reform as critical to its success.

Co-founder John Doerr, for example, pushed for changes to California's charter school laws. He described the successful campaign to increase the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the State:

'Influencing public policy can be a very high leverage way to create change. We spent $4 million on a campaign to put our charter school ballot on the initiative before the legislature agreed to include it in a spending bill. If you think about it from a return standpoint, over a ten year period, we will have 1,000 new charter schools in the state of California which will receive an average of $3 million in state funding a year. So that’s a $3 billion annum return on a $4 million investment campaign”[2]

Reform Summit

It runs an annual invitation-only NewSchools Summit for 'education innovation thought leaders': entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, funders, and policy makers. According to NewSchools, the 2015 Summit 'ended with a powerful call to action by Ben Jealous, partner at Kapor Capital and former President of the NAACP National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who, echoing Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, encouraged attendees to “build uncomfortable coalitions and to dream bigger dreams.”'

Sponsors of the 2015 Summit included: Pearson and the Walton Foundation

Political links

  • Ted Mitchell, former CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund and an advocate for education reform in California and nationally in the US, was appointed Under Secretary in the US Department of Education in May 2014, overseeing higher education.[3]



  • David Welch, NewSchools Venture Fund donor; Welch bankrolled the Students Matter group that led the legal charge against California’s teacher tenure laws.[5]



twitter: @NextGenStacey; @scottb_edu


  1. NewSchools ed tech 'Seed Fund' to split off, 24 January 2015, EducationDive
  2. Patricia Burch, Hidden Markets: The New Education Privatization, Routledge, 2009.
  3. Lee Fang, Venture Capitalists Are Poised to ‘Disrupt’ Everything About the Education Market, "The Nation", 25 September 2014
  4. Motoko Rich, NewSchools Fund Attracts More Capital, "New York Times", 30 April 2013
  5. Audrey Watters, Who's investing in Edtech, Hack Education], 05 Feb 2015