Archive for September 14th, 2021

NewSchools Venture Fund: A YCISL Perspective

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Last week, I sent in a job application for the position of Associate Partner, Innovative Schools at the NewSchools Venture Fund. My cover letter stated that I was seeking flexible part-time activity that would complement my Stanford youth creativity project. Apparently what I was offering was a non-starter which is not a big surprise. But since I found what they were doing quite interesting in the education space, I will write a brief entry here to share my views of their mission and strategy.

Their “Our Model” statement is quite compelling. The words “philanthropy”, “partnership” and “innovative” are the three keywords that I would pick out for their main feature list. To choose one sentence that I feel represents the overall effort, it would be “We seek out promising innovators from around the country, and invest in those with the greatest potential to improve student learning and make a positive impact.” A highly revealing design thinking statement. It has the Who? Where? What? How? and Why? that I ask for in the YCISL Asking Questions Design Thinking method. There is no When? element here or elsewhere in the Our Model statement. I think it should be added.

On their Core Values page, they list Bold, Passionate, Connected, Inclusive and Accountable. This reminds me of my visit with the Lili`uokalani Trust – in several respects. Admirable. In terms of a YCISL review of the core values, I think of Satoru Iwata’s GDC Keynote statement about his business card, mind and heart, and there is a fairly good connection with these core values: Accountable->Business Card, Connected & Inclusive->Mind, Bold & Passionate->Heart. YCISL-type words that may work better in characterizing the needed effort include: Mindful, Uplifting & Optimistic (reflective of our fondness for emotional intelligence and positivity).

Actually, even beyond the inconvenience of the flexible part-time condition in my application, there is admittedly sparing overlap of interests. Awkward momentary silence. The YCISL program is based on a premise that there is a universal lack of creativity in education and that leads to educational misses. The YCISL program is open to all and we have hope to assist any young person at any interface who will take personal ownership and has a desire to improve their own life. Let’s just say our napkin doodle may be quite different from their napkin doodle. Still, we can learn from each other.