Higher Ground Education Raises $30M Series D and Acquires Award-Winning FreshGrade Platform to Accelerate ‘Montessori Everywhere’ Mission

News April 9, 2021

Posted by Harrison Crerar

Higher Ground Education Raises $30M Series D and Acquires Award-Winning FreshGrade Platform to Accelerate ‘Montessori Everywhere’ Mission Featured Image

LAKE FOREST, Calif.—Higher Ground Education, Inc., the leading network of schools dedicated to Montessori education, today announced it has raised $30M USD in Series D funding and acquired the award-winning digital portfolio and assessment platform, FreshGrade. The new financing, led by Learn Capital, will fund the next phase of Higher Ground’s “Montessori Everywhere” strategy by enabling continued investments in curriculum development, training, technology, and global growth.

“With all the challenges this past year has brought, it has also created a window to do something dramatically different in education,” said Ray Girn, Founder and CEO of Higher Ground 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 new Series D financing is the acquisition of FreshGrade, a digital portfolio and communication tool that gives parents and teachers a truly transparent view of student progress. Since its founding in 2011, over 18 million portfolios have been created on FreshGrade with 85,000 teachers and 1.8 million parents actively using the platform.

Well-suited to both in-person and remote learning environments, FreshGrade captures learning in any form — be it video, audio, tests or quizzes — and delivers it in a newsfeed format familiar to young students. Its ability to track quantitative and qualitative outcomes makes the platform uniquely positioned to support a high-fidelity Montessori learning experience.

Higher Ground has acquired both the FreshGrade tech product and team.

“FreshGrade was always built as the answer for people looking for more than what traditional education can offer,” said Lane Merrifield, co-founder and CEO of FreshGrade. “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.”

By acquiring FreshGrade, Higher Ground will be able to invest further in the technology, adding features that expand the scope and reach of the organization’s current offerings and accelerating its mission to power the global growth of Montessori-informed pedagogy and practices.

“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,” said Girn. “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.”

As a global provider of Montessori-informed education and teacher training, Higher Ground has focused its efforts on directly offering parents and educators authentic Montessori programming at school, at home, and virtually, from infancy through adolescence. All of its programs innovatively fuse digital tools with physical materials, combining the best of virtual learning with place-based programming.

Since its founding in 2016, Higher Ground has opened over 80 locations across the US and Asia, and at-home and virtual learning programs across the globe, serving more than 7,000 students worldwide. It operates Guidepost Montessori, the largest network of Montessori schools.

In 2020, the company doubled its enrollment across programs, added 27 campuses to its network of schools, expanded its virtual offerings to serve all time zones, and launched a partner program that supports public and private schools looking to implement Montessori pedagogy from preschool through high school.

In January, Higher Ground raised $40M USD in Series C financing and acquired the Altitude Learning LMS technology, along with Altitude’s product and engineering teams, to invest further in high-agency curriculum, pedagogy, and teacher training.

As Higher Ground continues on its mission to deliver “Montessori Everywhere,” the company welcomes inquiries from (1) public and private schools and districts looking to implement Montessori programs or offer staff Montessori training, (2) domestic and international real estate partners looking for a high-quality childcare or school tenant, and (3) businesses and organizations interested in Montessori programming for staff.

To further explore partnership or business opportunities with Higher Ground Education, please reach out to Ben Kornell at bkornell@tohigherground.com

About Higher Ground Education

Founded in 2016 by seasoned Montessori educators and entrepreneurs, Higher Ground operates Guidepost Montessori, the largest growing network of Montessori schools with over 80 locations across the US and China. It has grown into an omni-channel business offering in-person, at-home, and virtual learning options that enable parents, students, and educators to seamlessly access Montessori-inspired education and training, no matter where they reside. The company places particular emphasis on accommodating families’ ability to travel and migrate, and regards “continuity of education” as one of its core value propositions. To learn more, visit www.tohigherground.com

About FreshGrade

FreshGrade was founded in 2011 by Lane Merrifield and Steve Wandler, and is headquartered in Kelowna, British Columbia. Designed by world-class developers in collaboration with teachers and parents, FreshGrade is an education resource for teachers, students and families that mirrors how people communicate and use technology today, opening a window into the classroom to ensure maximum student engagement and progress. FreshGrade’s mission is to make learning visible, with powerful portfolio and assessment tools that capture student growth and ensure meaningful connection between teachers, students and families. To learn more, visit www.freshgrade.com

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