For Children and Families
Wildflower Teacher Leaders create and lead their schools with hearts and minds focused on the limitless potential of the children entrusted to them. Our schools are places where children flourish as they gain independence, build confidence in themselves and deepen an understanding of their own identity and connection to others in their community.
Recent evidence suggests that diverse educational communities make a positive difference for children of all backgrounds. Currently, of about 1300 enrollment students in Wildflower schools, 64% of children/families identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color, 43% live in families that qualify as low-income according to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and 26% speak a language other than English as their first language.
Wildflower’s Family Net Promoter Score - a measure of families’ willingness to recommend their school to a friend or family member - is 84, reflecting the nearly universal enthusiasm families have for their children’s teachers and school communities. Our schools are committed to the use of authentic Montessori curriculum, which is rooted in 100 years of research correlated with lasting academic and social-emotional outcomes for children across all demographics.
Schools by Program Level
*Note: Many schools in the network have programs serving more than one age level.
Starting a Wildflower school is a significant undertaking for educators, one that they do not take on lightly. Generally, after years of successful classroom leadership and ongoing reflection about the type of school they believe will best serve their community, they commence a journey to start a new Wildflower school that typically takes 12-24 months and an extraordinary investment of their emotional and physical energy.
Through their participation in Wildflower’s School Startup Journey and the Wildflower Network, emerging teacher leaders have secured over $7 million in school startup grants and nearly $5.2 million in low-interest startup loans. Each team of Teacher Leaders starting a school also receives ~100 hours of coaching and support from the Foundation and members of the Wildflower community.
For the most part, realizing the vision they’ve created is its own reward, but starting and leading a Wildflower school also brings more professional satisfaction, greater community standing, and higher compensation. Though we haven’t found any magic solution to make teaching easy, Wildflower’s Teacher Net Promoter Score – the measure of how many Teacher Leaders would recommend this work to a friend – is now 68 points above national teacher benchmarks and Teacher Leaders largely remain in their schools each year (90% annual retention).
The vast majority of educators that endeavor to start a Wildflower school and stick with the process are ultimately successful. As one indication of this, of the 45 schools to whom Wildflower’s Sunlight Loan Fund has issued startup loans, none have defaulted on their loan payments. Of the 68 schools that have opened as Wildflower schools, 62 continue as part of the network and three continue to operate as small Montessori schools independently.
For several reasons, we make a special effort to invite Black and Indigenous Educators and Educators of Color to start Wildflower schools and this effort is reflected in the diversity of Wildflower teacher leaders. Currently, 48% of all teacher leaders identify as Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color and three quarters of new schools opened last year were led by a BIPOC Teacher Leader.
Communities across the country and around the world face significant shortages of high-quality, affordable early childhood education programs, as well as too few alternatives to the traditional educational paradigm for elementary and secondary schooling. Wildflower schools address both challenges.
Once a Wildflower school takes root in a community, a natural process of growth unfolds as teacher leaders, families, and community leaders seek to open more such schools in nearby areas while also adding schools that expand the age range of children served.
Over 60 schools, and counting
The Wildflower network includes over 60 schools, 23 of which have opened since the start of the pandemic. Each school is often funded 50% through philanthropic seed grants and 50% through low interest, unsecured loans to Teacher Leaders, who autonomously design and lead their schools as social entrepreneurs.
17 States, Washington DC and Puerto Rico
Wildflower schools operate in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC.
Projected growth of 25-30% per year
We project to support the start of ~15 new schools over the next year and grow the network to ~200 schools in the next 5 years and 800 schools within the decade.
Innovation in the Field
Wildflower’s core work is itself path breaking work in the area of supporting teacher leadership and creating responsive school governance.
We are among the first networks of microschools and the first committed to making schools accessible to all families regardless of ability to pay.
Our investments in Wildflower Labs and the direct engagement of Wildflower schools in the Labs’ projects have led to the creation of Observant Education, and early stage technology project.
Our practice of recognizing when internally incubated ideas have potential beyond Wildflower and spinning them off to fulfill their potential as independent organizations. Examples to date: