Concerned that the prevailing “factory model” of education doesn’t serve either students or teachers well, a group of reformers banded together in 2012 to encourage the personalization of schooling via computerized instruction blended with live tutoring from teachers meeting with small groups. With catalytic funding from philanthropist John Fisher, the group created a new way for donors to pool investments—called the Silicon Schools Fund—with the aim of providing the startup grants to found 25 new “blended-learning” schools in the Bay Area of California over a five-year period.
The fund assists school founders with initial planning and organization, and also supports entrepreneurs who can supply them with software, curricula, training, and other resources to help their students and teachers mesh online teaching with personal instruction. It then publicizes these schools as laboratories and models for the rest of the country. In addition to the Fisher family, ten other major givers joined as charter supporters of the $25 million effort, including Bruce and Martha Karsh, Sheryl Sandberg and David Goldberg, the Sobrato family, the Emerson Education Fund, the Schusterman and Schwab foundations, and others.
- News article at launch, edf.stanford.edu/readings/silicon-schools-fund-lands-12-million
- Silicon Schools Fund, siliconschools.com/approach/overview