Big Push for Small Schools Grants

Key Points

  • This is more than a grant–it also provides support and builds a hub of microschool leaders. 

  • The grants facilitate the creation and evolution of these modern-day learning hubs.

A Big Push For Small Schools

Microschools are as old as America, originating as one-room schoolhouses across the country. As institutional education consolidated into larger buildings and larger systems, microschools persisted as homeschool cooperatives. Beginning three decades ago, virtual schools (both public and private) created new platforms for hybrid schools and learner cooperatives. However, nationally there is still a lack of understanding about what quality small school options are available for families in each state, how these schools can partner and network to share resources and operate sustainably, and how to launch efficient new models. Most small schools need support with economic vitality, measuring and sharing impact, and awareness as a high quality option for all learners. 

As we look toward the horizon of innovation and the subsequent rise in diverse school models, we are excited to announce the Learning Innovation Fund and our first grant program A Big Push for Small Schools, an initiative that taps into the rich legacy of microschools and reimagines them as the pillars of modern-day learning. These small school communities are redefining the way students learn.

The Vision Behind the Fund

At the heart of the Learning Innovation Fund lies a shared vision – to unlock the true potential of education by creating a place for all learners. This initiative envisions a future where every learner’s unique journey is nurtured, and where innovative, impactful education is accessible to all. The fund’s mission is to amplify the impact of innovative models, that are diverse and sustainable and empower learners for life.

With a rich history of leading educational advocacy strategy and fostering innovation, our team at Getting Smart stands uniquely prepared to spearhead this transformative initiative. Our wide range of experience and deep understanding of education dynamics, combined with a network of thought leaders and visionaries, allows us to curate an environment where innovation flourishes. We’ve witnessed the power and success of many different microschool models and believe in their potential to revolutionize education. Over the next few years, the Learning Innovation Fund will feature many more grantmaking partnerships all focused on creating new equitable opportunities for all learners. 

A Collaborative Endeavor

The Learning Innovation Fund is not just an initiative; it’s a testament to the power of collaboration. The funding for this first grant program is led by the Walton Family Foundation. As we continue to expand our impact, we enthusiastically welcome and are actively seeking additional funding partners who share our vision and want to join us in propelling education into a brighter future. We are also seeking evaluation partners, technical assistance providers and leaders interested in joining a small-school community of practice. 

Grant Opportunity

Imagine the potential when vision meets resources. The Learning Innovation Fund presents a golden opportunity for educators, innovators, and administrators of small schools to bring their innovative dreams to life. With up to 20 grants ranging from $75,000 to $250,000, this initiative aims to accelerate the impact and scalability of microschool models, igniting a ripple effect of positive change. 

Grantees will benefit from a comprehensive ecosystem of support. Collaborate with evaluators, work alongside technical assistance and coaching providers, and join a grantee network that nurtures innovation. This fund isn’t just about financial support; it’s about cultivating a community of change-makers. Beyond grants, this initiative will also include a platform for storytelling, case studies, and community conversations. By amplifying awareness of small school potential, we’re not just shaping education; we’re changing perceptions and inspiring new paths of learning.

Who Should Apply

We welcome innovative small-school leaders with transformative ideas, poised to make waves. 

We’re looking for diverse national models across the K-12 spectrum that utilize various funding methods, be it private, public, or ESA-funded models. Our selection criteria emphasize geographic diversity, ensuring that urban, suburban, and rural areas are all represented. We are interested in high-engagement learning models ready to scale or replicate. Above all, our priority is to support models that cater to historically underserved communities. If this aligns with your expertise or that of someone you know, find more details and the application process here.

A Call to Action

Join us in this transformative journey of education. If you know passionate small school leaders who could benefit from this grant, we urge you to share this exciting opportunity with them. Let’s collectively amplify the reach and impact of small schools, ensuring that every learner gets the education they truly deserve. Sometimes, the smallest shifts lead to the most significant transformations. Let’s make a big push, together!


Jordan Luster

Jordan Luster is the Program Manager at Getting Smart. She has spent her entire career working towards better learning for young people including numerous years in the classroom in both public and charter settings.

Caroline Vander Ark

Caroline is President of Getting Smart.

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