ACT, an Authority in Social and Emotional Learning, Wins Grant to Advance Development of Ed Tech Platform Through Research

May 16, 2019

Originally posted on

New Schools Venture Fund grant is a recognition of ACT’s innovative work in the area of social and emotional learning designed to help students succeed in and out of school.

IOWA CITY, Iowa—ACT announced today that NewSchools Venture Fund, a national nonprofit that invests in educators and innovators who want to reimagine learning, has awarded the nonprofit learning, measurement and navigation organization a grant to advance its work on social and emotional skills.

The grant, which is typically awarded to early-stage innovators and educators, rather than established organizations such as ACT, will support further development of ACT Tessera, a social and emotional skills measurement program, including the ability to conduct critical research among underserved learners. Funding will also provide a real world application to demonstrate the efficacy of the ACT Tessera Teacher Playbook for improving social and emotional skills.

“We are very proud and excited to have won this grant, which will assist our efforts to help students, particularly those who are underserved, succeed both in and out of school,” said Jim Larimore, chief officer for the ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning. “We are committed to leveling the playing field for all students, regardless of needs, backgrounds or resources, in their efforts to learn essential skills and navigate their pathway to college and career readiness.”

The grant is part of the NewSchools Ignite Expanded Definition of Student Success Challenge, a program open to innovators developing technology-enabled learning experiences, instructional content, learning diagnostics, administrative tools and other products that promote an expanded definition of student success by enhancing academic and social-emotional learning and supporting the development of nurturing school and classroom environments.

“We believe ed tech tools hold great promise in this area,” said Tonika Cheek Clayton, Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund. “ACT Tessera has the potential to increase equity and improve academic outcomes by supporting the development of social-emotional competencies as well as improvements in school culture and climate. That’s why NewSchools Ignite is proud to invest in ACT.”

“There is now a large amount of research showing that social and emotional skills are essential to both education and workplace success,” said Jeremy Burrus, ACT’s senior director for social, emotional, and academic learning. “Research supported by this grant will improve ACT Tessera’s ability to assess and teach those skills and help students succeed.”

ACT’s study will involve approximately 14,000 students at 25 middle schools in south Texas who participate in GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), a program designed to help underserved learners prepare for college. The research will be conducted over a full calendar year.

About ACT

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Grounded in 60 years of research, ACT is a trusted leader in college and career readiness solutions. Each year, ACT serves millions of students, job seekers, schools, government agencies and employers in the US and around the world with learning resources, assessments, research and credentials designed to help them succeed from elementary school through career. To learn more, visit

About ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning

ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning focuses on closing gaps in equity, opportunity and achievement for underserved populations and working learners. Through purposeful investments, employee engagement, and thoughtful advocacy efforts, the Center supports innovative partnerships, actionable research, initiatives, campaigns, and programs to further ACT’s mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success.

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit that supports and invests in promising innovators and teams of educators who want to reimagine learning. We help them accomplish their missions to achieve outstanding results for the schools, students, and educators they serve. We are committed to helping students graduate high school prepared and inspired to achieve their most ambitious dreams and plans. Through our investments, management assistance, network building, and thought leadership, NewSchools helps to reimagine PreK-12 education. To learn more, visit, or follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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Ed Colby, ACT Public Relations