Our Mission: Empower Learners

We help you empower the learners in your life by providing an effective microschool operating system, a learning model that puts the child at the center, and an inspiring and supportive community.
Two Prenda students in Arizona collaborating on a hands-on fossil project outside.

We're on a mission to empower learners!

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Thriving academically and socially, students discover their purpose and pursue their interests.

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Taking place in homes and other flexible spaces, small-group learning is engaging and personalized.

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Empowering the next generation of learners, one parent or community member at a time.

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Partnering with state-accredited institutions to provide a tuition-free education option.

Prenda students and their Guide jumping to pose for a fun photo outside near turf.A Prenda Guide helping two of her students understand how to put together a project.Prenda Founder Kelly Smith gives a student a high-five while visiting Arizona microschools.Three male students looking through binoculars made creatively from cardboard toilet rolls and string.Microschool students in Mesa, Arizona wearing matching Prenda T-shirts.Students and their Guide make funny faces to the camera while wearing matching Prenda T-Shirts.
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What's with the funny name?

Prenda means “gift” in Portuguese and is similar to the Spanish word "aprender," which means “to learn.” Combining these, the message behind our name is that learning is a gift. Our aim is to invite students and adults alike to experience learning as an inherently enjoyable, lifelong human activity. 

September 2013
Students sit together at tables to attend a computer programming club at a public library.

How it all started...

Prenda founder, Kelly Smith, started volunteering at the public library to teach kids computer programming after school.

Soon, the library was packed with kids working on coding projects they were truly interested in— collaborating, solving problems, and having a blast. Prenda Code Club spread from library to library all over the country.

Prenda Founder Kelly Smith talks to two microschool students as they work on a project.

The "aha" moment

Seeing Prenda Code Club students deeply engaged each week and truly loving learning, Kelly had a lightbulb moment.

What if all of school was like this?

August 2017
January 2018
Kelly Smith, Prenda Founder and CEO, dances with microschool students in Arizona on the 100th day of school.

The first Prenda Microschool

This “aha” moment inspired Kelly to consider the future of education and create the first Prenda Microschool in his home with seven neighborhood students. 

Prenda has since grown into a full K-8 learning experience.

A Prenda microschool Guide stands in front a bookshelf as she guide students' learning.

Empowered to guide

As the word spread about Kelly and his students' learning journey, interest grew.
This idea inspired many parents and community members to open Prenda microschools of their own. 

August 2018
September 2018
A microschool student wearing a Prenda T-shirt smiles while walking towards the camera.

Expanding access

After seeing so many students thrive, Kelly established partnerships with local schools and ESA programs to make Prenda accessible to more kids.

As more and more states expand school choice funding across the country, even more students are able to participate!

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A growing community

Since 2018, Prenda has helped over 1,000 inspiring adults start microschools, and nearly 10,000 students step up to lead their learning.

We’re carrying out our mission to empower learners, one microschool at a time. We are thrilled to continue on this incredible journey with you.

Good idea, Kelly! 

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January 2020
Tia Howard


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April 2020
June 2020

Our Core Values

Prenda’s core values are the foundation of our culture. We invite everyone in our learning community— guides, parents, students, and Prenda employees— to live these core values in every interaction.

Start with heart

We see others as human beings with infinite value and unlimited potential. We reject labels and categories, focusing instead on humans who deserve empathy and inclusion.

Dare Greatly

Rocket ship icon symbolizing Prenda's core value Dare Greatly

We discover our gifts and purpose, set big goals, then take small steps to achieve them. We hold ourselves to a high standard and bravely continue when we hit a roadblock.

Figure it out

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We see ourselves as capable problem solvers who do whatever it takes to learn. We fearlessly question, curiously tinker, and stubbornly persist in our efforts to learn.

Foundation of trust

We generously extend trust to others and work hard to earn their trust in us. We assume good intentions and approach others with empathy, curiosity, and compassion.

Learning > Comfort

Hand Weight icon symbolizing Prenda's core value Learning over Comfort

We choose to keep learning, even when it’s hard. It may be tempting to avoid taking risks, but we know that meaningful learning and growth happen outside of our comfort zone.

Our community

Meet Prenda’s community of parents, students, employees, and Guides. We come from different backgrounds and we’ve all had markedly unique experiences. Still, we are united by Prenda's mission to empower learners and our commitment to supporting one another on our learning journeys. 


Looking for a microschool for your child?

Prenda takes a grassroots approach to establishing schools so there might not be a microschool in your community, yet. But you can solve that. We can help!

Find a microschool

Explore the empowered learning movement

'Kindled' is Prenda’s effort to help teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and school leaders understand the art and science behind empowering young people. Come learn with us!

Explore Kindled Resources