Use ESA funds for Prenda in Arizona.
Prenda began in 2013 with one parent trying to help his kids learn computer programming. A local public library in Mesa, Arizona, provided the space and Prenda provided the curriculum and tools. Eight years later, more than 2,500 children in 12 states are learning all of their core subjects and more in Prenda-Powered Microschools.
Prenda helps parents and teachers operate world-class microschools by partnering with regulated, state-credentialed educational institutions to engage small groups of 5-10 students in mastery-focused, project-based learning. In public district schools, charter schools, and at home, Prenda-powered Microschools have helped students from a variety of backgrounds thrive and find joy in learning.
Prenda is headquartered in Mesa, Arizona, and operates a family-friendly, inclusive, remote-first workplace with staff around the country.
Kelly Smith, Chief Executive Officer
Kelly Smith is the founder and chief executive officer of Prenda, which he founded in 2015. He graduated with degrees in physics from Brigham Young University and nuclear science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before returning to his hometown of Mesa, Arizona. Kelly and his wife are the proud parents of 4 amazing kids.
Prenda began in 2013 when founder Kelly Smith wanted to help his kids learn to code. Instead of just teaching his own children, Kelly invited the neighborhood to the library, and Prenda Code Club was born. After seeing how Code Club helped kids love learning again, Kelly was inspired to expand Prenda’s offerings to include a full K-8th curriculum implemented in a “microschool” setting. Since then, Prenda has helped over 1,000 caring adults open microschools, and nearly 10,000 students have experienced the program.
Prenda helps inspiring adults open and run great microschools. Microschools are small learning communities- usually with about 5-10 learners- that are led by inspiring and caring adults we call ‘guides.’ Guides come from all walks of life and diverse professional backgrounds, including homeschool parents, teachers, coaches, and other supportive community leaders.
Prenda’s mission is to empower learners. This means that students take an active role in their education. They set personal goals and, with the support of their guide, move forward bit by bit each day. Prenda takes a grassroots, organic approach to starting new microschools by helping adults who want to make an impact on the kids in their local community. We provide structure, tools, resources, community, and support so that guides can focus on creating hyper-local, flexible learning environments that empower learners.
The Prenda day is organized around 4 “modes” of learning: Connect Mode, Conquer Mode, Collaborate Mode, and Create Mode. Each mode has a unique purpose and style that is easy to implement and can typically be run by students.The Learning model prioritizes building strong relationships, making sure each student has a personalized learning experience, and helping each student to drive their own learning. Our learning approach is balanced between ‘mastery’ and ‘inquiry.’ Students develop foundational skills by setting their own goals and moving forward at their own pace while expanding their curiosity and knowledge by collaboratively exploring topics of interest.
The learning model is based on modern neuroscience, psychology, and educational research. You can read more about our evidence-based approach by reviewing our Research Alignment- Theory of Action documentation.
At Prenda, we measure our impact by measuring two main areas of interest: Empowerment and Academics.
We measure Empowerment by evaluating each student’s intrinsic motivation, perceived control, adequacy of differentiation, and positive relationship with learning. Below is a graph that shows the Empowerment gains that we saw during the 2021-2022 school year. This data comes from a pre- and post-survey for nearly 1,000 of our K-8th grade students.
We have also seen significant gains in positive sentiment around school.
79% of students reported their Prenda experience helped them find their personal purpose for learning.
Do you feel like you were able to find a personal purpose for learning this year?
When looking at academics, we evaluate both grade-level achievement as well as growth.
Upon entry, our grade level achievement numbers map closely to national averages where, unfortunately, only about 20% of students are ready to work on grade level (this indicates that Prenda is not a magnet for either high or low performing students but rather serves a wide range of abilities). We are typically able to push this number to an average of 40% on grade level by the end of the year, according to adaptive benchmark testing in math and reading. However, other metrics of grade level performance indicate that, on average, approximately 70% of Prenda students are working at or above grade level.
Our data indicate that our students experience approximately 135% growth per year, or, said another way, 1.35 years' worth of progress in math and reading. This number is 118% for students who come to us with IEPs.
“My daughter, who is in 7th grade, loves her Prenda Guide and is obsessed with going to school again. She even does extra work just because she loves it so much. She hasn’t felt like that since she was little
Out of nowhere, since starting Prenda, she has been ecstatic again to play her violin and read books. I know it must be the positive and encouraging ways of her Guide and Prenda..”
Andrea Gorin, a Prenda parent
“I LOVE PRENDA!There I said it. This is an educator's dream job! The way this program is set up...The immediate data from diagnostics. I have never (In my nearly 30 years of being an educator) been so excited to see graphs, data charts, and diagnostic reports! I'm genuinely giddy! And the autonomy for the kids! The way they have already risen to the challenge of becoming the best version of themselves...The collaborative efforts that happen when they get to have ownership of their learning... Their eagerness to work on the next subject or get to create mode... makes my heart flutter! And don't even get me started on the perks of working from home!!!This educator mama's heart is bursting, and I can't wait for next week! ”Trina Jackson, a Prenda guide
"Prenda has given me a chance to learn at my own pace; an opportunity to grow in my learning, the freedom to make my own choices about my learning. At Prenda, I feel I can be myself. I can meet other kids in all different grades. The gift of Prenda is the freedom, the kindness, the feeling of being in a community that cares about you, who always has your back, that feeling that they will pick you up when you're down.You can share your feelings and solve conflict easier. Everyday there is struggle that each classmate has. We work together to make sure everyone leaves happier than when they got here. We are kind to one another. We work hard to conquer our goals. Everyday we try our hardest and do our best to climb up our learning frontier. We always remind ourselves, “We are closer to our goal than we were yesterday.” We always start the day with a growth mindset, ready to learn. We make sure we are always including and make sure people are happy. We are a Prenda community.”- Isla, a Prenda student
“A Fire to be Kindled: How a Generation of Empowered Learners Can Lead Meaningful Lives and Move Humanity Forward”
Prenda CEO and founder, Kelly Smith, explores this question in his debut book: Can intentional, messy, audacious learning unlock the power to live meaningfully and contribute to the world?The human capacity for learning has enormous potential, but most of us are stuck with the passive belief that learning is “a thing that happens to you.” Imagine if, instead, humans made the deliberate choice to learn rather than checking boxes on a syllabus. How can parents, educators, and all of us unleash real learning?This book offers a fresh approach: the Empowered Learner, helping anyone own their genius and accomplish their goals. “A Fire to Be Kindled” takes a practical look at the structures surrounding students and explains the concepts of helping thousands of children become Empowered Learners at Prenda microschools.
The KindlED Podcast explores the science of nurturing children's potential and creating empowering learning environments.
Powered by Prenda, each episode offers actionable insights to help folks ignite their child's love of learning. Join hosts Kaity Broadbent and Adriane Thomspon as they dive into evidence-based tools and techniques that kindle curiosity, motivation, and well-being in young learners.
Learn more about The KindlED Podcast and listen to all episodes here.
The KindlED Empowerment Hub is a one-stop shop for all things related to KindlED. Created by Prenda, this hub is at the heart of an inspirational movement and a growing community committed to turning every child into an empowered learner. KindlED equips adults with the tools and know-how they’ll need to kindle a child’s love of learning, their drive for excellence, and their natural curiosity. The KindlED Empowerment Hub is bursting with insightful resources — from engaging blog articles and upcoming events to The KindlED Podcast. The hub has something for everyone.