Last summer, the 18-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based philanthropic venture fund NewSchools Venture Fund decided to launch a virtual accelerator program that provides grants to founders whose tech is addressing languishing gaps in K12 education tech. It kicked things off with a batch of 15 teams, all of whom were chosen for their focus on science education.
Today, the NewSchools Ignite program begins taking applications for its newest “challenge,” which will see it award grants to founders focused on creating learning experiences, assessments and digital tools that further students development, skills, and understanding of middle and high school math.
There are no strings attached, either.
Founders can have raised venture funding, or their company can be brand new. NewSchools isn’t averse to providing grants to companies working on similar concepts, either, including because no equity will change hands.
Each recipient is eligible to receive up to $50,000 to $150,000, depending on product stage. Winners also get to participate in a two-day, retreat whose location is to be determined and is meant to help educate them and provide them with ample networking opportunities. They’ll also be meeting with entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, and other experts who can offer them some advice about user testing, designing for classrooms, and so forth.
The criteria it will be looking for in startups include: the ability to address a particular student need identified by educators; companies whose tech is accessible to a wide range of kids (particularly underserved populations); startups whose products are designed to help students take ownership of their own learning; companies that support teachers’ delivery of tailored instruction; and/or startups that have the potential to achieve wide distribution and generate sustainable revenue.
NewSchool Ignite funded that first batch of science-focused ed tech startups just four months ago, so it’s a little early to predict whether any of them will be breakout success stories. But CEO Stacey Childress tells us that “several” of the startups are in the process of raising money.
As for other details, challenge winners needn’t relocate to participate. The program lasts six months and features targeted content and feedback delivered over the phone and in video meetings, along with web-based presentations. Also, in the end, winners will join a community of 150 entrepreneurs who are working to create new educational opportunities, which could be the program’s biggest benefit of all.
Again, applications just opened today. To apply, click here.