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Getting Smart Podcast

Jan 13, 2021

In this week’s episode, Tom virtually sits down with Kim Smith, founder of the Pahara Institute and co-founder of NewSchools Venture Fund and Bellwether Education Partners.

Kim Smith is widely recognized as an innovative and entrepreneurial leader in education and has been featured in Newsweek’s report, “Women of the 21st Century,” as the kind of woman who will shape America’s new century. Kim was also a founding team member at Teach for America, created and led an Americorps program for community-based leaders and education, managed a business startup, and completed a brief stint in early online learning at Silicon Graphics. She has helped to incubate numerous education and social change organizations and has served on a range of boards.

In Tom and Kim’s conversation today, they discuss investment opportunities, Kim’s impressive career in identifying and supporting innovations in education, and her advice for this year.


Key Takeaways:

[:09] About today’s episode with Kim Smith.

[1:03] Tom Vander Ark welcomes Kim to the podcast!

[2:19] Kim shares how both of her parents were also educators and how they influenced her career.

[3:49] How long was Kim at Teach for America?

[3:57] What did Kim do after Teach for America?

[5:17] The origin story of NewSchools Venture Fund.

[6:34] Tom underscores how innovative of an idea the NewSchools Venture Fund was when it was founded in 1998.

[7:26] Kim speaks about the early criticisms of the NewSchools Venture Fund as well as the challenges.

[7:50] What led to the idea of NewSchools Venture Fund?

[10:49] How Kim recruited an incredibly talented team for NewSchools Venture Fund.

[12:53] Lessons learned from the incredible success of NewSchools Venture Fund.

[16:39] Tom gives John Doerr a shoutout for the role he played in the success of NewSchools Venture Fund.

[17:15] Kim’s legacy at NewSchools Venture Fund has certainly resulted in a thousand great schools — all of which are still thriving to this day! Kim shares how she is proud of this accomplishment.

[17:51] Tom shares his appreciation for Kim’s early insights and leadership with R&D and ed-tech venture funds.

[19:23] Kim’s recent thoughts on philanthropy.

[20:50] In 2012, Kim founded Pahara Institute, a non-profit focused on talent. Kim shares the origin story, why she wanted to create it, and its main mission.

[24:49] How many leaders have been a part of Pahara over the last eight years?

[24:58] What Kim is proudest of with Pahara Institute.

[28:34] Kim’s advice for philanthropists in this day and age.

[29:57] Advice for system heads.

[31:30] Advice for state leaders that would help support families and learners.

[33:00] Kim speaks about her hopes for the new Secretary of Education.

[33:35] What Kim hopes all of these groups keep in mind as we head into 2021.


Mentioned in This Episode:

Kim Smiths LinkedIn

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Teach for America

Pahara Institute

NewSchools Venture Fund

Bellwether Education Partners

John Doerr

Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 212: “Teach for America: Helping All Kids Receive the Education They Deserve, with CEO Elisa Villaneuva Beard


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