The ability to educate our children effectively in a remote learning environment has never been more pertinent. With the majority of the nation’s 57M school-aged children toiling with remote learning and/or delayed school openings as a result of COVID-19, families are desperate for guidance and resources on how to provide their children quality education given the circumstances.
Shortly before the COVID-19 crisis hit earlier this year, we led a $10.5M Series A financing for Juni Learning, a fundamentally unique digital-first education platform that empowers hundreds of curated & trained instructors from top colleges to educate students K-12 through Juni’s live 1:1 and group classes. Founded in 2017 by Vivian Shen and Ruby Lee, two Stanford Computer Science graduates, Juni initially launched a proprietary coding and STEM offering, where traditional K-12 programs have historically been under-resourced despite an ever-growing need for education in these subjects. Since launch, Juni has already broadened its platform to offer math and English courses to serve the additional demands driven by the pandemic and will be further expanding their class offering in the coming months.
Current educational programs, within formal K-12 educational systems as well as supplemental extracurricular programs, are woefully inadequate in providing quality coding/STEM instruction – either in lacking qualified personnel or missing the course entirely.
Only 18% of high schools that are accredited to teach Advanced Placement classes had computer science as an offering, and further, minority students, students in rural communities, and girls are less represented in computer science education than others. The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics found that only 19% of computer science degrees were awarded to women and 22% to underrepresented minority students. Meanwhile, the workforce is experiencing an increasing demand for professionals with coding and engineering backgrounds to support evolving technological needs. With an expected ~$40B to be spent annually on enrichment education in the US by 2022, we at Forerunner believe that it is imperative to democratize access to quality education in STEM and other core subjects by leveraging technology to enable scalable learning for both students and teacher.
COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the limitations of our traditional educational system. Suddenly, digital education which was once considered in support of the core curriculum has now become the primary channel for learning across all subjects. This step-change in behavior and market need has provided powerful tailwinds for Juni as a platform that has been built from ground up with technology and remote learning in mind across every point of interaction - lessons, projects, progress tracking, collaboration, and community.
In the past three months alone, Juni has tripled revenue and delivered over 50,000 classes with 70% of its students located outside the Bay Area and across 47 states. Juni has more than 500 instructors from top universities who are all trained in the Juni curriculum and matched individually to each student based on their needs.
While the traditional education system suffers from a shortage of qualified teachers due to underfunding, challenging school environments, and minimal professional development support and recognition, Juni’s instructor supply is the deep, untapped pool of 500K undergraduate and graduate students with tutoring and teaching experience in the US, all of whom are eager to have flexible employment opportunities that enable them to leverage their expertise. Without access to Juni’s platform and proprietary curriculum, traditional instructors would need to coordinate meeting times, maintain their own CRM of students & parents, handle payment, develop their own courses and projects. The Juni platform enables each instructor to deliver a consistent, high-quality experience with less than 10 minutes of prep per class and start teaching within two weeks of their acceptance into the program. The result is a robust path to providing high engagement, personalized education to students at scale.
Ultimately, Juni’s mission is to provide a true digital university experience for students K-12, making learning fun, accessible, and personalized for any student, no matter where they are in their learning journey. The modern parent is eager to instill a love of learning in their children’s hearts and minds, and while much of education has historically focused on test scores and rankings, Juni imagines a world where learning is mapped to what students need to thrive in the world today and tomorrow.