HomeFeaturesSchools › Best Valley Schools 2024: New Learning Ventures, Acton Academy Phoenix & Phoenix Modern

New Learning Ventures (NLV) is an Arizona nonprofit that is reimagining learning for children through meaningful, real-world experiences.

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Photo: Phoenix Modern

NLV began in 2016 with the launch of Acton Academy Phoenix, a small, learner-driven private school based on Socratic and experiential learning. Today, NLV also operates Phoenix Modern, a K–8 public charter school with a similar education philosophy, as well as the annual Arizona Children’s Business Fair.

“We really focus on fostering meaningful learning experiences in loving, character-forming communities,” says New Learning Ventures Co-Founder Andrew Collins, who serves as executive director of the organization. This year, Collins is also a Socratic Guide at Acton Academy Phoenix for learners ages 8–13 in the school’s mixed-age Discovery Studio. As a guide, Collins takes on the role of a nonjudgmental challenger and game-maker, inspiring and equipping learners by asking powerful questions, offering tools, sharing testimonies and engaging in Socratic discussions rather than direct lecturing.

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Photo: Andrew Collins, co-founder of New Learning Ventures

Through its ventures, NLV aims to equip talented young leaders with the skills and mindset to flourish. To do this, NLV embraces a whole-child approach, or what the organization calls a “holistic framework to measure progress,” says Collins. This means that in addition to helping students master academic subjects, NLV supports their cognitive processing, social and emotional learning and wayfinding skills. By receiving support in all four areas, children learn to set goals, take responsibility for their own learning, develop a healthy growth mindset and build strong relationships with others.

Real-world experiences in and outside of the classroom are also a large part of students’s education at NLV. This includes multi-week “quests” that engage learners through weekly challenges, guest speakers, field trips and creative opportunities, such as sketching and designing blueprints for their dream school building or creating an immersive history museum that parents can visit. Learners also participate in the Arizona Children’s Business Fair each fall, the largest entrepreneurship event for children in North America, where young entrepreneurs 6–14 years old have the opportunity to showcase their own businesses.


Photo: Arizona Children’s Business Fair

“For us [at NLV], it’s about preparing learners to be good people, helping them to find purpose in life, meaningful work, strong relationships, healthy self-awareness and real-world skills that ultimately prepare them for a life full of possibility,” says Collins.

Looking to the future, NLV plans to grow and serve families from all over the Valley. Acton Academy Phoenix is now in its eighth year and will welcome 20–25 new learners next year. With this positive growth, the school is considering moving into a larger facility, says Collins. Phoenix Modern, which started in 2019, has been named an A-rated school by the state and serves around 120 learners, which is expected to grow to over 150 next year. The annual Arizona Children’s Business Fair serves over 200 young entrepreneurs every year, and the fair has been attended by thousands of customers.


Photo: Acton Academy Phoenix

To learn more, visit www.newlearningventures.org. Find more information and enrollment opportunities at www.actonphx.orgwww.phoenixmodern.org and www.childrensbusinessfair.org/phoenix.

Photos courtesy New Learning Ventures