July 13, 2021

Education for every student

Stand Together Ventures Lab Seeks individualized education solutions for K-12 Education

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-overlooked faults in the education system. After more than a year of disruption, most students have missed out on weeks, if not months, of crucial learning. This disruption impacts vulnerable students most acutely, particularly students of color.

Even before the pandemic hit, only one-third of fourth graders were reading at a proficient level. A quarter of all college freshmen needed remedial education, and 12% of high school students still drop out. The diversity of students’ needs and learning styles mean many fall through the cracks of a one-size-fits-all system. The current K-12 system is centered around the concept of an ‘average student’ as opposed to the needs and preferences of each individual.

For millions of students, a more individualized experience or learner-centric model, will shift the focus of education to the needs and interests of the student and allow them to discover and harness their unique gifts. Different educational options offer models, curriculums, and ways to study that are as diverse as the students seeking them. Take, for example, the many ways entrepreneurs have worked to scale microschools and pods to reduce financial and accessibility barriers.

The time is right for entrepreneurs to step in and offer solutions for a more inclusive and individualized K-12 education system. While the pandemic exposed the system’s challenges, it opened the door for alternative models, like pods and experiential learning programs, and paved the way for broader adoption among families. This all adds up to the core goal: meeting the needs and aspirations of each learner, which often don’t align to what schools can offer them right now.

But there’s a catch — three, actually. Would-be entrepreneurs with education solutions have to contend with obstacles of accessibility, discoverability, and credibility. Alternative education models typically aren’t financially accessible for the average family. Even if parents can afford these innovative models and options, it’s hard to know where to look for the best options — or even that such options exist. Because alternative education models are still new, they may lack the credibility that parents want.

Stand Together Ventures Lab aims to remove these barriers and open the door to creating alternative K-12 models with our entrepreneurs. We’re looking for:

  • Platforms that foster the discovery of credible alternative schooling options
  • Scalable learner-centric programs that are financially accessible
  • Tools and marketplaces that drive adoption of state-level Education Savings Account (ESA) programs

While typical ed tech investors need to meet significant rates of return in short periods of time, Stand Together Ventures Lab is different. Instead of focusing on short-term returns, we’re focused on a long-term partnership with founders who recognize the complexity of K-12 education.

We’re seeking out ventures with solutions that make it easier to discover, afford, and normalize alternative education models that better suit individual needs of students. We work together with partners to elevate these solutions, leading to a new paradigm of education — one in which anyone can start a microschool or choose alternative education for their child.

If you have an idea to rethink the K-12 system, we want to know about it. Find out how Stand Together Ventures Lab can support you by contacting Sihyun Choi, managing director of Stand Together Ventures Lab.

Written by Jacob Rabinowitz, Senior Investment Analyst for Stand Together Ventures Lab