Sora Schools is an Atlanta-based online schooling alternative to traditional high schools. The company announced on Wednesday it secured an $18 million investment co-led by Hemant Taneja at General Catalyst.
Launched in 2018, Sora offered online schooling years before the pandemic forced most students and teachers to virtual learning. However, unlike traditional schools, Sora offers students a project-based learning curriculum in which students can choose projects to work on throughout the year. Students are also able to determine a timeline for their projects and evaluation metrics.
According to Sora’s website, its teachers are there to guide and challenge students throughout their projects, “not [to] deliver boring lectures.”
“This [funding] puts us one step closer to replacing soul-sucking traditional school with a new, future-focused education system — the system our society needs and our kids deserve,” Garrett Smiley, Sora CEO and co-founder, said in a LinkedIn post. “I could not be more proud of our team and their hard work over the last couple of years, but this is only the beginning.”
Several scientific studies in recent years have demonstrated student comparative curriculum to be highly effective at promoting problem-solving skills and a viable alternative to traditional schooling. As a testament to its initiative curriculum, Sora was accredited by Cognia in August. This accreditation ensures that students who attend Sora can be accepted into most colleges.
Last year, Sora secured $2.7 million in a round led by Union Square Ventures. In total, the education startup has raised $23.5 million since its launch, according to Crunchbase.
“Sora is a much needed new approach to an education system that has been largely stagnant for decades,” Rebecca Kaden, managing partner of Union Square Ventures, said in a statement about last year’s funding round. “It offers a personalized system with a scalable network, creating an opportunity to become the largest high school in the world while also allowing each student to pursue his or her own passions and individual learning journey. Education shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all and Sora is creating something adaptable and effective at a time when parents and students are realizing that alternative forms of learning are needed and possible.”
According to AtlantaInno, Sora is looking to expand after its recent investment. The online school currently has students in 33 states and, while there are no plans to open a physical classroom, Sora is looking to offer more after-school activities and an expanded curriculum for junior high students.
Sora has also seen a large increase in enrollment. Its initial class consisted of seven students, but now the school has 150 students enrolled.