Ventures

Doing the Math on Personalized Learning: V&E Helps Cutting-Edge Nonprofit Thrive

“New Classrooms is a transformational organization, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to its mission by providing corporate governance counseling as I do for V&E’s other clients”

As schools across the country struggle to help students keep up with their studies during the pandemic, a New York-based nonprofit is having a moment — one that has the real potential to become a movement.

“We see a world in which the basic paradigm flips and schools have new capabilities to meet the unique needs of each student,” said Joel Rose, the cofounder of New Classrooms. The organization, which is a V&E pro bono client, offers math education programs that use algorithms and machine learning to enable teachers to tailor lessons specifically to each student’s needs. In recent months, New Classrooms found demand for its products surging.

“Schools are recognizing that they need different kinds of solutions to address learning loss” that took place during the pandemic, Rose said. “The seventh-grade textbook isn’t going to cut it for the kids who are coming in on a fifth-grade level.”

Rose, who is a former teacher, said that such circumstances have made once-reluctant school administrators and teachers more open to innovation and different ways of teaching. “It’s given us an opportunity to expand our impact to far more students.”

As New Classrooms expands its reach, V&E helps the nonprofit clear legal hurdles along the way. Palmina Fava, who joined V&E in 2019 as a partner in the Government Investigations and White Collar Criminal Defense practice, has served on New Classrooms’ board of directors for five years. She is currently a member of two board committees: finance and governance.

“New Classrooms is a transformational organization, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to its mission by providing corporate governance counseling as I do for V&E’s other clients. I bring to the board my experience in evaluating best governance practices and internal controls, and help draft the corporate charter, bylaws, the subcommittee charters, and contractual terms and conditions,” Fava explained. “In the finance committee, I also have the ability to examine strategic growth factors by working with the New Classrooms executive team and other board members to consider ways to improve and expand the organization’s financial soundness through lines of credit, additional cash on hand, and capital campaign initiatives that help New Classrooms scale its products and achieve its business strategies. Each board member brings a different skill set to the table, and I’m glad I can offer the legal skill set.”

Fava’s commitment to working with New Classrooms stems not only from her passion for the law, but also her passion for education. Many in her family are teachers, and her immigrant parents raised their children to take education very seriously.

“My mother is an immigrant to the United States, and our family very much focused on education as a means to achieving the American dream. My parents and grandparents worked long hours in factory jobs, while going to school at night so that they and the next generation of the family could earn the classroom and boardroom jobs,” she said.

As a mother of four, Fava has also seen firsthand how students can thrive with different learning tools and strategies. One of Fava’s children, in fact, uses a recently released New Classrooms product to supplement his school math lessons. While New Classrooms’ flagship product, called Teach to One 360, was designed for use by teachers and students in classrooms, its latest offering, Teach to One Roadmaps, can be used by students at home. Both products were profiled in The New York Times.

“My son started using Teach to One Roadmaps after doing poorly on the first test in a new subject area. But since then, he’s earned 95s and above on every test,” she said. “It helps give him confidence and additional practice.”

Rose said Fava has been a joy to work with.

“She’s incredibly smart. She’s a very clear thinker and has really embraced the mission of what we’re trying to do, understanding it both at a conceptual level but also at an organizational level,” he said.

Since joining V&E, Fava has worked with associates Milan Sova, Mike Mathews and Briana Falcon on New Classrooms matters as the organization continues to grow.

“There are a number of issues around what goes into our national contracts and negotiating those contracts with our school partners. There are issues around data and security. There are issues around governance and making sure we are doing all we can to ensure our governance systems and organizational practices are where they should be,” Rose said. “V&E has been vital to our building the capacity to do all those things and more well.”

Fava said it’s been gratifying to work with an organization that can make a difference for every student, especially now.

New Classrooms’ products “achieve educational equity and are game changers that help students recover the learning lost over the past year,” Fava said. “The product really works.”

To learn more about New Classrooms and to support its mission of improving math learning, please visit https://newclassrooms.org/.