10 friends, clients, and portfolio companies that would make good philanthropic investments

1. Advance Innovative Education : alternative teacher and leader certification in Louisiana.  Leader development is like NLNS but with entrepreneurship component with LSU B school.

2. Advance Path Academics : great drop-out prevention network. Districts could use small grants to promote adoption. AdvancePath retrofits a classroom, it costs districts nothing, and their results get better fast.

3. Aspire Public Schools : with Shalvey off to Seattle, James Willcox could use help with advocacy & scaling.

4. ConnCAN: flat out the best state advocacy group in the game, but in a state that needs reform. Fund it, then replicate it.

5. Education Equality Project: Joel Klein and national who’s who provide political muscle to battle for excellence and equity.

6. EduInnovation: advocacy org incubated by NSVF; will catalyze edu innovation & entrepreneurship; don’t innovate in the dark—shine a light on it.

7. Parent Revolution: organizing parents for new or conversion charters in Los Angeles (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDVrLWyK44w)

8. PIE Network: collaboration umbrella for Forham, EdSector, CAP, CRPE; pushing choice & accountability and supporting state advocacy groups like ConnCAN.

9. SmartyCard: help Boy & Girls clubs (or equal) make good use of computer labs—give them a grant for SmartyCard, the first learn to earn prepaid card.

10. Rhode Island Mayoral Academies: Mike Magee leading one of a kind effort to recruit and support high quality charters for mayor initiated charters.

And 3 PRI Opportunities

1. AP Prep: developing urban charter high schools in Newark, Bed-Stuy, Hartford. Could use $500k market rate debt.

2. RevLearning Publishing: could use $2-3M market rate debt to help capitalize innovative learning game company.

3. Revolution Learning: grant or loan to NSVF supporting org to invest in portfolio of innovative tools & schools; add profit recycle and you have evergreen impact.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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