OAKLAND, Calif. — Kai XR, which provides kid-friendly, teacher-approved immersive learning experiences for students using virtual and augmented reality, has raised $530,000 in funding led by Kapor Capital, with SheEO Ventures, Pipeline Angels, and Techstars, amid a turbulent environment in which schools eliminated in-person field trips that typically supplement classroom lessons due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A diverse group of angel investors, including first-time investors and Black women, with additional support from the AR/VR community, joined the funding round.
Additionally, Kai XR will open their seed raise of $2 million this summer.
“We are thrilled about the amazing continued support we’ve received to serve the needs of students today, who all should be receiving 21st-century learning skills that prepare them for the future,”says Kai Frazier, Kai XR’s founder.
“Covid-19 showed, in stark relief, the inability of outdated learning tools to provide robust digital and in-person learning environments. The tech gap is there, and we are singularly driven to fill it with immersive educational experiences that excite students’ minds and make them eager to learn more.”
Led by Frazier, Kai XR aims to be the future of education by offering inclusive and accessible 360˚ augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality field trips with educational guides served on any device to STEM centers, schools, and parents. The platform lets kids explore all subjects in an interactive environment, strengthening their tech skills and preparing them for the future of work.
The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 magnified the importance and relevance of Kai XR’s industry-leading tools to provide a robust digital environment for students, whose opportunities for outside learning experiences were limited or eliminated.
“We didn’t need COVID-19 to show us what we already knew— that many kids don’t have Wi-Fi and laptops at home,”Frazier says.
“However, even with this common knowledge, we haven’t seen true innovation until now to provide access for students stuck in the homework gap.”
At 17 years old, Kai Frazier became an assistant in her former third-grade teacher’s Chesapeake, Va., classroom. Her passion for learning led her to become an educator herself. As a history teacher, Frazier witnessed firsthand how her students consumed information digitally, but unfortunately, her assigned teaching resources in her classroom were technologically lagging behind.
What she noticed wasn’t unique to her Virginia classroom. According to the latest Pew Research Center study, almost one in five teens struggle to complete their studies due to a lack of technology, including high-speed internet and proper hardware—universally known as the “homework gap.”
The study shares another upsetting statistic: 35% to 45% of teens, studying in low-income homes, rely solely on their smartphone connection to complete schoolwork. With millions of students lacking digital access and connectivity at home, experts worry technology continues to create an uneven playing field in the classroom.
Frazier knows this personally, having spent every day on the front lines working with children without access to digital resources.
“Each week, I saw students falling further and further behind, simply because they lacked adequate classroom technology.”
To combat this growing digital divide, Frazier decided to fill the learning gap herself by introducing students to the world through virtual field trips. Frazier documented the monuments and historical sites of Washington, D.C., with her first 360° camera. Thus, Kai XR was born.
“Proximity does not equal access,”Frazier says.
“Even though my students lived near D.C’s many historical monuments and museums, rarely did they visit due to accessibility issues, such as transportation. Deepening the issue was my school, and many like it, struggled to provide field trips to these landmarks due to budget constraints.”
Today, Kai XR’s virtual field trips give students access to locations that can often be cost-prohibitive and logistically distant. With this forward-looking use of augmented and virtual reality, Kai XR’s mobile-first platform strengthens tech skills in students and prepares them for what the future holds.
“Exposing students to new experiences is a key benefit of the virtual field trips we provide, as they connect what they learn in the classroom to their everyday lives.”Frazier says.