Since starting in 2003 with an original mission to establish innovative approaches to high school education, North Carolina New Schools has evolved into a leading professional services agency dedicated to developing high-performing schools and districts across the state. In this role, we embed into schools and school districts a systematic approach to developing highly skilled educators that is sustained over time and enhanced through the use of technology.

Our early focus on the design of school models has sharpened over time to concentrate on what matters most: helping teachers and education leaders grow and develop as the strong and essential foundation of great schools and successful students.

NC New Schools 2005 map
NC New Schools network in 2005


North Carolina New Schools traces its beginnings to the national drive to improve secondary school education during the early 2000s. A series of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation totaling nearly $26 million was matched by a similar amount from the state, spurring an aggressive effort to rethink secondary education to be more responsive to more students and to the changing economy. From the start, NC New Schools has been led by a board of directors representing key support from the spheres of business, government and education.

NC New Schools network schools in 2013
NC New Schools network schools in 2013

North Carolina New Schools now emphasizes the skills and practices required for school districts to consistently succeed in delivering student-centered education built on the knowledge and skills required for success in a changing economy. The agency also leads the nation in the creation and support of early college high schools, a successful hybrid model that blends high school and the first two years of college. The nearly 80 early colleges that are part of the NC New Schools network represent the largest number of the innovative schools of any state in the nation. In addition, 10 turnaround high schools that adopted a STEM focus in 2007 with support from NC New Schools helped lay the groundwork for a broader network of economically-themed high schools underwritten with support from a federal Race to the Top grant to North Carolina and private sector investment. These schools pioneer deep connections with employers and organizations in their communities to ensure that students graduate with skills critical for success in the global economy.

NC New Schools continues to evolve in response to the critical needs of educators, schools and districts while holding fast to our founding vision that every student in North Carolina graduates ready for college, careers and life. Thanks to strong partnerships with higher education, government, community groups, foundations and corporations, we’ve broadened our base of support and our ability to serve the unique needs of North Carolina’s school districts. We are helping to open promising new opportunities for thousands of students in North Carolina, particularly for students in communities where options have been few.

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