Higher Ground Education
Image from Higher Ground Education’s website

Higher Ground Education, a network of Montessori schools, has raised $30 million in Series D funding led by Learn Capital and acquired the digital portfolio and assessment platform, FreshGrade.

Lake Forest, California-headquartered Higher Ground Education stated it will use the funding for curriculum development, training, technology, and global growth.

Ray Girn, founder and chief executive of Higher Ground Education, said: “With all the challenges this past year has brought, it has also created a window to do something dramatically different in education. The Series D investment allows us to continue to be actively and aggressively advocating for Montessori pedagogy as the way of the future.”

One of the immediate outcomes of the financing is the acquisition of FreshGrade, a digital portfolio and communication tool that gives parents and teachers a view of student progress. FreshGrade captures learning in forms such as videos, audio, tests or quizzes, and delivers it in a newsfeed format familiar to young students.

Image from FreshGrade’s website

Since its founding in 2011, more than 18 million portfolios have been created on FreshGrade with 85,000 teachers and 1.8 million parents using the platform.

Lane Merrifield, co-founder and chief executive of FreshGrade, said: “FreshGrade was always built as the answer for people looking for more than what traditional education can offer. Part of its charm and success is due to its ease of use, but it’s FreshGrade’s ability to capture both qualitative and quantitative learning outcomes that make it a natural fit with a Montessori curriculum. We’re excited to grow the team within Higher Ground and to allow even more families to see the benefits of FreshGrade across North America and the world.”

Higher Ground said it will invest further in FreshGrade’s technology, adding features that expand the scope and reach of the organisation’s offerings and accelerating its aim of promoting global growth of Montessori-informed pedagogy and practices.

Girn said: “Our philosophical commitment is to be both pedagogically uncompromising in the programming we offer to children, and to find ways to fully include parents in the education of their children. FreshGrade is an expression of that commitment. Excellent communication with parents and parent-school relationships are inextricably linked to quality education, especially given that we believe quality in education is driven by doing something quite different.”

Since founding in 2016, Higher Ground has opened more than 80 locations across the US and Asia, and at-home and virtual learning programmes across the globe, teaching more than 7,000 students worldwide. It operates Guidepost Montessori, the largest network of Montessori schools. Last year, the company doubled its enrolment, added 27 campuses to its network of schools, expanded its virtual offerings to cater to all time zones, and launched a partner programme that supports public and private schools looking to implement Montessori pedagogy from pre-school through to high school.

In January, Higher Ground raised $40 million in Series C financing and acquired the Altitude Learning LMS technology, along with Altitude’s product and engineering teams.

Date published: 9 April 2021

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