VPP Invests $1 Million in Collaborative Fund to Address Teacher Shortage in D.C.

October 17, 2017

Today, Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) announced a co-investment in Education Forward DC of $1 million over three years to help launch Relay Graduate School of Education (Relay) in the District of Columbia. In addition to VPP’s investment, Education Forward DC and another funder are also contributing $1 million – for a total of $3 million in leveraged support of this initiative.

This effort will address D.C.’s shortage of high-quality teachers. D.C.’s teacher shortage mirrors the national landscape where there is a crisis in the “teacher pipeline” stemming from both a decrease in new teachers and a decrease also in the retention of current teachers. The lack of quality teachers can have negative effects on students including lower test scores, increase chance of dropping out and narrows the path to graduation.

“We have an unwavering commitment educating our young people and to do that well, we understand that we must invest in our educators,” said Carol Thompson Cole, President and CEO of Venture Philanthropy Partners. “We are proud to partner with Ed Forward DC and Relay because they share our value in building a better future for our most vulnerable children and youth.”

Relay is a nationally accredited alternative school of education that offers graduate degrees and credentials in teacher education and school leadership. The graduate school is recognized for its unique emphasis on demonstrating teacher effectiveness by documenting improved student outcomes. Relay’s operating model assumes sustainability within five years, which increases the potential for lasting improvement in educational outcomes for youth. Relay’s inaugural school partners in Washington, D.C. will include some of the largest, highest-performing charter networks in the city, and Relay is currently partnering with District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), KIPP DC, AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation, CityCenterDC and DC Prep.Within five years, Relay is predicted to scale to enroll at least 230 new and experienced teachers annually. Based on these projections, by year five, Relay DC will produce 110 new teachers.

In addition to funding, VPP will provide strategic assistance to Relay to evaluate the long-term effect of its alumni on student outcomes and support implementation of strategic initiatives, including family engagement, that produce culturally competent teachers who can successfully educate students from diverse backgrounds.

VPP’s commitment represents its second syndicated investment to support the strengthening of schools in the Greater Washington region.


Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) is a philanthropic organization that builds strong nonprofits and strategic networks that measurably improve the lives of children and youth throughout Greater Washington. Since its founding, VPP has raised more than $100 million to help vulnerable young people gain access to quality education, health care, career training and a better chance at a brighter future.