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An alternative to traditional public education or remote learning, microschools have been surging in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year. Microschools, also known as pods, essentially can be little neighborhoods that allow small children groups to learn jointly at private homes.

Some businesses are benefiting as demand for the services gain traction. For instance, take SchoolHouse, a BIPOC-founded micro-schooling company that matches parents with educators to create at-home schools.

The firm just raised $8.1 million in its first round of funding since launching in 2020 and experiencing rapid growth late last year. Among its high-profile investors are Chelsea Clinton from Metrodora Ventures, Chris Paik and Jordan Cooper from Pace Capital, along with Bungalow and Trust Capital.

Currently, the firm has over 50 microschools with 250 students in 10 states. Now, SchoolHouse will use the funding for national expansion. The firm says its approach allows families to attend a school where they are located, erasing the need to be in a specific town, zip code, or school district.
SchoolHouse learning-pods offer in-person teacher instruction for up to eight students at a time. The firm vets its teachers on their ability to teach with only 7% of applicants being accepted, says Mathias Guttu, a Black American who is co-founder and chief revenue officer (CRO) at SchoolHouse. “We focus heavily on the quality of the teacher as that is what lets us deliver such great outcomes.”
He says the business model reduces the overhead of traditional schools meaning most of the tuition goes directly to the teacher. He added the new funding will let SchoolHouse invest in technology to enhance the parent, teacher, and student experience, streamline operations, grow and expand. “Those investments would be much smaller and done over a longer period of time without this round of funding.”
Guttu says the average student cost is about $1,200 a month. Most parents sign up at the beginning of a school year for the entire year. But Guttu added if there are open seats new students can join and the tuition would be prorated.
SchoolHouse contends one of its main pillars is an emphasis on diversity and inclusion that many traditional school systems do not focus on. It adds the diversity is not only reflected in the diversity of students, but also in the teachers the firm chooses to lead the pods, and its founding team.
So why is that important to Black American parents perhaps interested in placing their kids in a pod?
Guttu says a large difference and advantage of a microschool is that the teacher knows each student. “That is very powerful for a child to be understood, to get the individual attention they need (when they need it) and to have a safe space to learn and grow,” he says. “Microschools can treat each child as an individual instead of focusing on getting the most people possible to the same destination.”
Guttu noted he personally had the experience of special education being recommended for him in the first grade. He recalls simply having a teacher that did not like him. He says he does not know why, but he was the only child of color in the class.
“My parents took me out of that school to another where I thrived,” he says. ” That experience is part of the drive in creating environments that are inclusive and we feel that can have a huge positive impact in a child’s life.”

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