a16z backs Odyssey, developer of technology to power K-12 spending accounts for parents and families
Odyssey’s online marketplace ensures transparency and ease of use as more states launch programs to put education dollars in the hands of parents and families
NEW YORK, October 26, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Odyssey, a platform that helps states connect families to public finance and education services, today announced its $4.75 million seed funding round led by a16z through its American dynamism practice, which invests in founders and companies that solve important national problems.
Global Village, whose sponsors include Bill Gates, Jeff Bezosand Michael Dellalso invested alongside Bling Capital, Packy McCormick, Jean DannerRed House Education, Avalanche VC, as well as the founders and early team members of Stripe, Wonderschool, Primer, Sora, Higher Ground Education, Factor, and Hellosaurus.
“We are on a mission to help heads of state translate a powerful political idea into programs that touch the lives of families and children,” said Joseph Connor, founder and CEO of Odyssey. “Unleashing the potential of education savings accounts starts with ensuring that the implementation is seamless and user-friendly, not only for parents and families, but also for the providers – whom we connect to the platform. This requires constant attention to transparency and accountability to ensure heads of state can protect taxpayers’ investments and quantify their impact.”
States are increasingly launching new initiatives that provide public funds directly to parents for educational expenses. This year, more than 20 states, for example, introduced legislation to support programs known as education savings accounts (ESAs) or micro-grants.
Odyssey (formerly known as Agora) is the first technology platform designed exclusively to support the administration of these state programs on behalf of families, providers, and heads of state. Its team includes both veteran educators and developers from tech giants like Google, Lyft, AngelList, and Flexport. Odyssey also has an in-house team of ESA and micro-grants experts, including parents using these programs.
“Our American Dynamism practice supports technology that turns cutting-edge ideas into practice,” said Catherine Boyle, general partner of a16z and member of the American Dynamism team. “Odyssey is emblematic of our vision. They are bringing in the brightest minds in technology to implement a policy to put funds directly into the hands of parents. We are very proud to support them in building a mission-driven company that helps open up more educational opportunities for families.”
Last month, Odyssey was selected through a competitive procurement process to administer from idaho $50 million Parent Empowerment Grant Program. In the first 30 days of implementation, Odyssey successfully processed and verified over 42,500 student applications from 19,000 parents.
Odyssey will use the funds for product development, to accelerate hiring to meet the high demand for its services, and to expand its services to other states.
Odyssey is the first platform designed exclusively for the management of education savings accounts (ESA) and microgrants. Led by a team of educators and developers, Odyssey takes a unique approach, combining a cutting-edge technology platform for registration and payment and a high-quality user experience with hands-on engagement with parents and caregivers. providers to increase program uptake. A turnkey solution, Odyssey aims to make ESA and micro-grant programs more accessible to families and more transparent to state leaders.
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