Higher Ground Education, the leading network of schools dedicated to Montessori education, today announced it has raised $30 million USD in Series D funding and acquired the digital platform, FreshGrade.

FreshGrade was founded in 2011 by Lane Merrifield [right], Steve Wandler and Mark Payne, and is headquartered in Kelowna. The tool that gives parents and teachers a truly transparent view of student progress has seen over 18 million portfolios have been created on its platform with 85,000 teachers and 1.8 million parents actively using the platform.


“With all the challenges this past year has brought, it has also created a window to do something dramatically different in education,” says Ray Girn, founder and CEO of Higher Ground Education. “The Series D investment allows us to continue to be actively and aggressively advocating for Montessori pedagogy as the way of the future.”

Well-suited to both in-person and remote learning environments, FreshGrade captures learning in any form — be it video, audio, tests or quizzes — and delivers it in a newsfeed format familiar to young students. Its ability to track quantitative and qualitative outcomes makes the platform uniquely positioned to support a high-fidelity Montessori learning experience.

Higher Ground has acquired both the FreshGrade tech product and team.

“FreshGrade was always built as the answer for people looking for more than what traditional education can offer,” says Merrifield. “Part of its charm and success is due to its ease of use, but it’s FreshGrade’s ability to capture both qualitative and quantitative learning outcomes that make it a natural fit with a Montessori curriculum. We’re excited to grow the team within Higher Ground and to allow even more families to see the benefits of FreshGrade across the world.”

Higher Ground will further invest in the technology, adding features that expand the scope and reach of the organization’s current offerings and accelerating its mission to power the global growth of Montessori-informed education.

“Our philosophical commitment is to be both pedagogically uncompromising in the programming we offer to children, and to find ways to fully include parents in the education of their children,” says Girn.

“Excellent communication with parents and parent-school relationships are inextricably linked to quality education — especially given that we believe quality in education is driven by doing something quite different.”

As a global provider of Montessori-informed education and teacher training, Higher Ground has focused its efforts on directly offering parents and educators programming at school, at home, and virtually. In 2020, the company doubled its enrollment across programs, added 27 campuses to its network of schools, expanded its virtual offerings to serve all time zones, and launched a partner program that supports public and private schools looking to implement Montessori pedagogy from preschool through high school.