Frances J. Messano: September 17, 2019


New Report Explores Why Latino Education Entrepreneurs Remain Underrepresented and Under-funded

Frances J. Messano

Senior Managing Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund


One in four American public-school students are Latino. Yet Latinos are underrepresented in the education workforce, including among education entrepreneurs, who are important drivers of innovation.

NewSchools Venture Fund invests in new, innovative public schools and early-stage education companies that help prepare students – especially those who have been underserved – for success in career and life. Despite a strong commitment to funding Latinos, NewSchools struggled to attract applicants. The same patterns are found among many other education foundations with a stated desire to fund Latino education entrepreneurs. NewSchools set out to learn why.

The organization commissioned a national survey, augmented by a series of focus groups and individual conversations in cities with large Latino populations. The resulting report provides useful insights on how education funders can increase the number of Latino entrepreneurs in their pipelines.

Did You Know?

  • Latinos frequently have a strong family history of entrepreneurship, which may make them hesitant to seek funding from outsiders and more reluctant to give up control.
  • Latino education entrepreneurs are more likely to be juggling multiple responsibilities than other entrepreneurs. Three in four report they are employed full- or part-time at a company while starting and running their venture.
  • Low familiarity with philanthropy and limited information can discourage Latino education entrepreneurs from pursuing grant opportunities. Fewer than one in four report that funds from philanthropic organizations or investors would be available to them if they needed additional support today.

On Tuesday, September 17th, Frances Messano, Senior Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund is available for interview to discuss how we can better understand Latino education entrepreneurs. She will also discuss what NewSchools and other funders must do differently to identify, nurture and capitalize entrepreneurial talent that better reflects our student population.


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Frances Messano is a Senior Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund where she leads the Innovative Schools Invent (new schools) and Diverse Leaders investment teams. She also designs the content for our annual Summit conference.  Frances has an MBA from Harvard Business School and AB from Harvard College. She serves on the board of Unidos US, Pahara Institute, Stand for Children, GO Public Schools, Latinos for Education, and Catalyst: ED. She is also a Pahara-Aspen education fellow. Frances is a first-generation college graduate and an alum of Prep for Prep, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, non-profit organizations that she credits with helping her gain access to educational and professional opportunity.

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