With five Bezos Academy preschools up and running in Washington state, the organization announced this week that it will be opening additional schools this year in Texas and Florida.
The tuition-free preschools are based on Montessori educational principals, which include individualized, child-led learning and hands-on experiences.
The first school opened in October 2020 in Des Moines, Wash., just south of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. The programs are based in underserved communities and 130 kids are enrolled in Washington, according to a November interview with Mike Abello, the nonprofit’s head of education.
Bezos Academy is funded by the $2 billion Day One Fund created by Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos.
News of the expansion into Texas was announced Tuesday on Instagram. The preschools will be located on the Dallas College Mountain View and Cedar Valley campuses. On Thursday, Bezos Academy and the housing nonprofit Ability Housing announced that a new preschool will open in the fall in Orlando, Florida.
Bezos himself has been spending some time in Texas. In July, his inaugural suborbital space flight aboard a Blue Origin rocket ship launched from the tiny town of Van Horn in West Texas. He also owns a 300,000 acre ranch in the area, and his company’s rocket engine testing program is located nearby. Bezos also attended elementary school in Houston for a few years.
The Bezos Academy selects school locations by examining Census data and information from state agencies to ”identify communities that appear to have a significant gap between the raw number of low-income, preschool-aged children living in an area and the number of ‘seats’ available in existing early learning programs,” Abello told the education news source Montessori Public.
In addition to instructing children, the program is paying for teachers to receive training in an effort to expand the diversity of Montessori educators.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on Jan. 13 with news of the first Bezos Academy preschool in Florida.