The Team

NewSchools Venture Fund
April Chou
Wayee Chu
Annie Riley
Standford d.schools
Rich Crandall
Erica Estrada

April Chou:
April Chou is a partner in the West Coast office of NewSchools Venture Fund. She leads the organization’s development efforts and is currently raising NewSchools Fund IV, which will invest in early-stage, innovative organizations tackling some of the most challenging problems in public education. As part of the leadership team, April also has responsibility for investment strategy and management.

April has been with NewSchools since 2004. In her previous role, she focused on expanding the NewSchools Network and developing communities of practice to strengthen the knowledge, learning and impact of NewSchools’ portfolio organizations. During this time, she also worked with the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Foundation to shape its network growth strategy and helped KIPP Bay Area Schools transform its governance structure from six separate schools into a charter school management organization.

April’s experience spans the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining NewSchools, April was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in San Francisco, Beijing, and Washington, DC, where she advised clients on strategy, organization, and operations. As a Nonprofit Practice Community Fellow, she served nonprofit clients and helped build the firm’s knowledge base about the nonprofit sector. April received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She completed her graduate work at Stanford University, where she received an MBA from the Graduate School of Business and an MA from the School of Education.

Wayee Chu:
Wayee is an Associate Partner in NewSchools Venture Fund’s West Coast office, where she focuses on sourcing and supporting early stage education technology entrepreneurs. Wayee leads the NewSchools EdTech Entrepreneurship Lab, in partnership with Teach For America and the Stanford d. school. The Lab allows budding entrepreneurs to explore, develop and incubate innovative, technology-driven ideas that target educational inequity. Formerly, Wayee focused on NewSchools’ field-building work in the planning and execution of the NewSchools Community of Practice gatherings for entrepreneurs to the annual NewSchools Summit. Prior to joining NewSchools Venture Fund, Wayee worked for four years as an equity research analyst at Merrill Lynch in New York, where she covered the financial sector. She also served as finance director for a magazine publishing firm. Wayee started her career as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Wayee’s interest in education began in 1997, when she became a volunteer for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), an education non-profit in New York. For six years, Wayee mentored students in the SEO Scholars Program, which prepares motivated New York City public high school students of color to earn admission to – and succeed at – the nation’s most selective colleges and universities. Wayee graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Ethan and their son Beckett and daughter Willa.

Rich Crandall:
When given the choice between a starring role in front the camera and the director’s spot behind it, Rich Crandall prefers the latter. He has an eye for when a canvas needs blue in the lower left corner and for the moment when his project teams need to remember their overarching goal. It makes sense with where he lives on the introvert/extrovert axis.

Rich was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At the age of four, Santa Claus asked him how he’d behaved. He replied, “I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve been good.” Rich claims this as preliminary evidence of embodying certain truths, namely: err early. Don’t worry about working for perfection, focus on rough prototypes. So much of what the stands for rings true for Rich. He is happy to have found a home here. Rich has a BA in math from Colgate, and an MBA from Stanford. He served as a Teach For America corps member in Oakland. He plans to spend the rest of his life working at the intersection of doing well and doing good.

Erica Estrada
In July of 1983, a young Mexican couple boarded a plane from Korea to California being careful to hide the enormous 8-month-pregnant bulge of what was soon to be Erica Diane Estrada. Luckily enough, they made it in time to the sunny shores of California, where Erica was born, already bound for a life filled with unusual paths and a tendency to go against the norm.

Although she grew up mostly in her beloved Texas, she was lucky enough to be what most call a “Bechtel Brat.” Her homes have included Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and her favorite–Venezuela, where she attended 6th grade on Centipede Hill, lovingly named for the fact that everyday she opened her locker to a giant centipede crawling on top of her textbooks.
After being accepted to Stanford, she reveled in knowing that she would be finally reunited with her native soil. She knew early on that her calling was in Mechanical Engineering, and she had to juggle that with her interest in Biology, Political Science and Creative Writing throughout her undergraduate and graduate years. 

Then comes the time when “a girl’s gotta fall in love,” and with Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability, Erica did. By day, she worked on a team redesigning the shifting experience for Volkswagen developing a foot-operated gear-shifting system for concept vehicles. By night, she soldered LEDs and cut PVC and Coke cans with her Extreme Affordability Team as they worked toward the goal of providing affordable lighting products to villagers in Burma. After graduating from Stanford, her night job became her day job and her lighting team traveled to Burma and Cambodia prototyping lights and experimenting with batteries. Within a year, d.light design won $250k in venture capital funding from a business plan competition, and subsequently garnered the resources to officially incorporate.

Erica spent another year traveling the world with her trusty travel sheets, lighting up dark villages with LED lights as a product designer and co-founder of d.light design. She became an expert on needfinding methods, rough prototyping and unusual in-the-field bathroom experiences as she visited and re-visited the villages. During this immersion, she made sure to carefully document d.light’s users’ stories, some of which can be found at

Needing a rejuvenating injection of designfference in the developing world.
Needing a rejuvenating injection of design thinking in a familiar environment, Erica has come back to the to help others turn their ventures into realities and to get more people excited about the power of design thinking to make a big difference in the developing world.

Chaula Gupte
As Managing Director of the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative at Teach For America, Chaula Gupta is creating an enabling platform to help alumni launch and grow their own social change ventures that target the systemic factors behind educational inequity. Prior to this role, Chaula worked for four years with Ashoka, where she supported the US Fellowship in screening social entrepreneurs, managed various projects in Ashoka India, launched and ran a new global staff recruitment program, and did due diligence on innovative ideas that employed technology for social change. Chaula has done research on small-arms disarmament at the Geneva-based UN Institute for Disarmament Research and co-authored a US government study on nuclear terrorism while working at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. She graduated from Mumbai University majoring in telecommunications engineering and has a graduate degree in international relations from Syracuse University. Chaula and her husband live in New York City.

Annie Riley:
Annie Riley joins NewSchools Venture Fund as an Education Pioneers Analyst Fellow in the West Coast office. As part of the venture team, Annie focuses on due diligence and management assistance for NewSchools’ education entrepreneurs.

Prior to joining NewSchools, Annie was a management consultant at Booz & Company (formerly Katzenbach Partners LLC), where she served clients across a range of industries, including technology, healthcare and retail. Previously, she worked at environmental education NGO in the Republic of Seychelles, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean, as a recipient of a Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship. Annie holds an AB with honors in Social Studies from Harvard University.

Contact us at events<at>newschools<dot>org.

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