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Tech Moguls Bet on AltSchool to Transform Education



AltSchool has a big new vision for schools and now it has $100 million to roll it out.

The financing comes from Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Andreesen Horowitz, EBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network and others, another sign of the surge of tech investors into education. Ed-Surge reported that $1.36 billion went into new ed-tech companies in 2014.

AltSchool’s ability to reimagine the full school experience sets it apart from a spate of ed-tech startups that address specific education issues. For example, Clever is looking at developer and school system technology integration. ClassDojo aims to support behavior change. Schoolzilla, BrightBytes, LearnSprout, and UClass are tackling performance and student data reporting. TeachersPayTeachers, Khan Academy, Duolingo look at curriculum and content sharing.

K-12 innovations are still lagging in terms of total investments compared to high-growth ed-tech companies like Lynda, Social Finance, 17zuoye, and others. Check out this list of recent investments in the space.

AltSchool is focused on highly personalized education and offering a model where teachers are highly technology adept and focused on outcomes. They also create a new model for smaller class-room size and micro-schools. As a B-Corp, Alt-School sees itself as a model for training and raising leaders “by voluntarily setting high standards for social contribution, environmental responsibility and accountability to a greater good.”

AltSchool claims that 40 percent of its student body is on some form of financial aid and that they are 10-15 percent less expensive than other private schools in the Bay Area. AltSchool will use the funding to expand its presence nationally and to license its approach to other educators and schools.

AltSchool’s raise is an example of how Omidyar Network is increasingly playing the role of an impact investor within a group of mainstream investors, as it did earlier with its investment in Change.org. Omidyar has other education investments, including Bridge Academies.

 

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