Prenda, an EdTech startup with the vision of helping young people learn technology in a fun, informal settings, announced that it has raised $20 million as a part of its Series B funding round led by Seven Seven Six (776), with participation from Alexis Ohanian’s firm, EdTech-focused VC Learn Capital, and Modern Venture Partners.
The round was also joined by Peak State Ventures, and inside angels.
Prenda is not disclosing valuation with this latest round, but the funding comes on the back of some significant traction for the startup.
Founded by Kelly Smith, Prenda is a new kind of school that connects parents with caring people, called Guides, who lead world-class microschools in their community and empower learners. Prenda means “gift” in Portuguese and is similar to the Spanish word "aprender," which means “to learn.” Combining these, the message behind the name is that learning is a gift. The company's aim is to invite students, and adults alike, to experience learning as an inherently enjoyable, lifelong human activity. The platform helps libraries and schools run code clubs weekly meetings where people work together to teach themselves computer programming.
Prenda’s tuition-free microschools are made up of small groups of K-8th grade students that learn individually and collaboratively in a mixed-age setting. The startup provides operational support, administration tools and learning materials, including computers to students and guides. Its curriculum uses third-party online tools like Khan Academy for math, Lexia for reading and a number of other platforms, along with learning tools developed by Prenda itself (such as several writing platforms).
Talking about the company, Founder and CEO of Prenda, Kelly Smith, said:
"We arranged groups and provided learning guides to the kids. We then supported the process and helped them become empowered learners by setting their own goals. By 2018 I was excited enough about this core learning hypothesis that I wanted to see if you could design a whole school around that."
Headquartered in Mesa, Arizona, Prenda claims to have 3,000 students in the kindergarten through eighth grade range in six states in the US who have already been learning by way, enrolling in one of 300 microschools powered by its platform and run by hundreds of its so-called guides.
According to Smith, the funding will be used both to expand to more states and to cover more students and bring on more “guides” (Prenda’s term) to run schools (these do not have to be accredited teachers, more on this below), as well as to start to think about how to enhance the programs that are available today with extra curricular activities, and if there is an opportunity to grow with its students as they get older.
Founding partner of Seven Seven Six, Katelin Holloway, added:
"As a mom and a former teacher, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the power of a great education. Since the pandemic, every parent is asking the same questions. We see a future for education that empowers kids, rallies communities and includes everyone, and Prenda’s microschool model will be a big part of that."