The 21st century poses new challenges to our education system and society. We’re building a university to help lead the way.

Ashu Desai
Apr 9 · 5 min read

On the heels of our accreditation announcement, we’re proud to share that we’ve raised a $15 million Series B funding round to help us realize our vision of building a modern university, designed to embody the values of the next generation of makers and leaders.

These future leaders will soon inherit the responsibility to solve significant societal challenges around climate change and income inequality — among others. But the enduring adversities of our higher education system — the student debt crisis, underemployment of degree holders, and stark inequality of opportunity in college admissions — are disempowering them. Due to the failings of our education system, our youth feel inadequately prepared to address the heightening challenges facing our world.

Make School began as an experiment to inspire students to start creating. To leverage technology to build experiences or solve problems in their lives. Over the past 7 years the experiment has matured into a college that integrates liberal arts, civics, and technology. Our diverse community of students and staff have kindled a value set for our institution, focused around inclusivity and social impact. Our institution embodies an ethos of empowering a new generation of makers to build solutions for local and global issues.

Our new round of funding allows us to dream even bigger. We’re aiming to build Make School into a world-leading university. One that redefines “elite” as diverse, inclusive, and accessible. One that derives prestige from outcomes, not selectivity. Our community unites students from all walks of life and all socioeconomic backgrounds, evaluated on their work ethic and drive rather than their access to opportunity as teenagers.

We’ve been humbled by the profound impact our education has had on the lives of our students, unlocking their potential and enabling upward mobility. We are building an innovation ecosystem around our university to help our students positively impact the world around them, tackling the breadth of problems that our diverse community is uniquely qualified to understand. We hope our university will deeply integrate into the cities we reside in — rather than exist as siloed fiefdoms — and contribute to civic society through far more than education and technology.

Our results to date have been deeply inspiring. Our students — many of whom come from low to mid income families — have begun outcompeting their peers at schools like Stanford and UC Berkeley for top jobs. Our students — as part of their coursework — have built communities to empower women, software to enable low cost digital payments in Africa, and open-source tools for governments. Our alumni work at GoogleX, run teams at billion dollar startups, write software to power city scale art installations, and work at world-first organizations like NASA and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Over the next 5 years, we plan to amplify the impact our students have by scaling our university in San Francisco to thousands of students, launching a campus in New York City, and introducing new computing-adjacent degrees — like computational biology — to broaden the range of organizations our students can support. We also plan to share our learnings with the broader higher education ecosystem to inspire others to implement initiatives that will further empower their communities.

We believe that the new generation of leaders we’re educating — the diverse community that will run Silicon Valley in 30 years — will be more aware and capable of serving the communities around them. We’re deeply optimistic about this new generation of thinkers and makers. Their passion, drive, values, and maker mentality will enable them to help tackle the increasingly complex challenges facing our society. We’re filled with hope that our students, in collaboration with their peers from other institutions around the world, can build a more equitable, more sustainable, and more joyful world.

Realizing our vision is a great challenge in it’s own right. It will be a decades long journey that will require focus, resilience, and patience. We’re fortunate to have built an incredible team to embark on this journey, a combination of technologists and academics hailing from leading organizations like Stanford, Google, and the U.S. Air Force. We feel thankful for the support of our partners, employers, and allies — especially the team at Dominican University — who have offered unwavering support along the way.

We’re also deeply grateful for mentorship from our board, investors, and advisors. As part of this fundraise, Tom Willerer from Venrock will be joining Rob Hutter on our board. Tom previously served as the VP of Product at Netflix and Chief Product Officer at Coursera. His alignment with our lofty vision, deep understanding of education, and experience scaling values-first organizations made him an easy choice to lead the round. Rob, who led our Series A, has operating experience running schools and sits on the boards of VIP Kid, Coursera, and more high scale education organizations.

Tom, Rob, and our other investors — especially Freada and Mitch Kapor and the partners at Y Combinator — have been invaluable in coaching us to grow our organization. They’ve been deeply supportive of our vision of building a world-first mission driven culture, evidenced by our recent conversion to a Public Benefit Corporation. As we continue to grow our institution, we hope to serve as a leading example of a for-good for-profit organization, inspiring more organizations to follow a model of conscious capitalism.

It’s important for us to keep in mind that any round of funding is not an accomplishment in its own right, but simply a means to an end. The accomplishment is the education and community our team has built over the past few years, which enabled this investment to further our mission. We’re grateful for the opportunity to continue our journey and build a sustainable and enduring university with great potential to make a brighter future.

Onwards,
Ashu and Jeremy

Make School

A collection on technology, startups, and the future of education.

Ashu Desai

Written by

Founder of Make School (www.makeschool.com) | YC Alum | Musician | Vegan

Make School

A collection on technology, startups, and the future of education.

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