Funding Schools Of The Future - Brian Greenberg of Silicon Schools Fund

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What changes can be done in the educational system to adapt to being in the 21st century? That is what Brian Greenberg asked himself, and so the Silicon Schools Fund was created. It is a nonprofit organization that supports a new generation of schools and innovative education models, and Brian is here to share what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.

Beginning his career dabbling in politics, it was Brian’s later experiences working as a teacher that motivated him to want to improve the learning system. Through hard work and a bit of luck, he was able to start a venture fund that supports a new kind of learning. Not all children learn as quickly or as effectively from the traditional education system, and so the Silicon Schools Fund envisions a more personalized learning program that leverages technology and innovation. As it turns out, there were many wealthy investors who found this to be a meaningful and impactful proposition. Since its inception 10 years ago, they now have worked with over 75 schools in California.

Brian explains the three types of schools in the American education system, how they select and fund schools, and what it takes for that school to actually open, teach students, and break even. He also talks about the long road ahead to truly make an impact in the way kids are being taught. If you’re an entrepreneur who is interested in the education space and seeking advice on how to go about it, you’ll want to listen to this episode.

Brian’s key lessons and quotes from this episode were:

  • “The difference is, whereas venture capitals [are] raising money from limited partners and investing it for profit, we are raising money from limited partners and investing it for social impact.” (11:24)
  • “What if we unlocked this amazing potential of the kids really caring about what they were doing and having a chance to have a little more control over the speed or topics that they were covering?” (23:28)
  • “Anyone who says this will be easy, you should just walk away from them. Anyone who says it's impossible, you should run away from them.” (33:24)
  • “If we don't solve making education more equitable and more effective for everybody, we will never have the kind of society we want.” (33:38)
  • “Get closer to the action, so you can understand what the real problem is, and try to build solutions that matter.” (39:13)

In this episode, we also talked about:

  • What led Brian to founding Silicon Schools Fund and the kind of schools they support (3:47)
  • How the Silicon Schools Fund operates (11:11)
  • How they select schools (18:30)
  • Entrepreneurship in the education space (27:26)
  • How Brian sees the world in 10 years if Silicon Schools Fund succeeds (39:36)
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