Mar 4, 2022 - Economy & Business

Latino-led learning platform aims to help close educational gaps

Two men stand side by side with their hands clasped at the front

Michael Vilardo and Felix Ruano, co-founders. Photo: Emile Learning

A learning platform founded by two Latinos is starting to make waves with TikTok-style lessons for high schoolers in the U.S.

Driving the news: Emile Learning offers high production, short and engaging videos for subscribers, modeled after the content young people consume.

  • It came about as the pandemic forced students to go online, resulting in even wider educational gaps among K-12 students.

Details: There are around 40 classes available for AP college credit, as well as electives rarely offered in schools, such as financial literacy, Java coding or music production.

  • The lessons come in 10-minute videos accompanied by digital study guides, graded assignments, test prep reviews and community forums to interact with teachers and peers.
  • The curriculum is free for students whose school districts have adopted the program.
  • Social media stars like TikToker and Harvard student Jordan Sanchez and science YouTuber Dave Farina lead the classes.

What they’re saying: “Students are growing up as digital natives and in a multicultural reality, but it’s almost impossible for schools to match that diversity and connectedness in faculty, administration or in a physical environment,” co-founder Felix Ruano told Axios Latino.

  • “There are tons of students with untapped potential that won’t otherwise have access to these curriculums, and a lot of those students are Latino, so with this we’re saying: ‘Let’s meet them where they are in an engaging manner and there’ll be a higher chance of better learning outcomes.'”
  • Michael Vilardo, the other founder, added that the initial experiences with virtual learning during early pandemic shutdowns laid bare how disparities in education can extend to the digital realm.
  • "So the opportunity to provide all students with these top educators from the comfort of their computer [with Emile] can increase equity," Vilardo said.

Over 70 school districts have signed up since the platform’s wide launch in mid-2021, the co-founders said.

  • Users don’t have to be in high school to enroll.
  • More than 50,000 learners of all ages are already enrolled, they said.
  • Vilardo and Ruano want to have around 80 accredited courses by the end of this year, and possibly expand to other countries, like Colombia and Mexico.

Subscribe to Axios Latino and get more news that matters about Latinos and Latin America, delivered right to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Go deeper