Everett is the latest community to open a Bezos-funded free preschool
A new tuition-free Montessori-inspired preschool is open in downtown Everett, backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. It’s called Bezos Academy.
The school offers year-round Montessori-inspired education to children ages 3-5 years old, five days a week.
"As with all of our schools, this one has been nearly a couple of years in the making. So it takes us a while between when we first have a conversation with an organization, in this case the city of Everett that was excited to bring a full-day tuition-free preschool to the community," said Katie Ford, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Bezos Academy.
Located downtown at Everett Station, the tuition-free learning center opened its doors on March 2, 2023. It serves about 54 students. The new school takes up about 3,800 square feet, where they have three classrooms that can accommodate 20 students each.
Such schools are open in under-resourced communities, but admissions eligibility isn’t just determined by family income.
"We give preference to children who are in foster care or whose families are experiencing homelessness; about 13% of our enrolled students are in that category," says Ford.
Teaching time is from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. During that time preschoolers are exposed to a mix of music, art, and playtime, but that’s not all.
“We do everything from hiring and training the teachers to providing breakfast and lunch snacks," Ford said. "And for families who want it, we'll send dinner home as well." The program also includes before and aftercare, which allows students to be on-site from 8am-5pm.
Ford said the academy's program is designed to serve students who come from families who earn up to 400% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that's about $110,000 a year.
Families can apply for a lottery to attend a new school, but there’s a waitlist for students interested in joining midway through the academic year.
All available slots are currently full at the Everett station school, however, families can sign up to join the waitlist at BezosAcademy.org.
The academy has already opened a handful of locations in Western Washington, including schools Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Pacific Beach, Renton, and two in Tacoma. A location in Pasco also opened in early 2023. A few more schools are currently in the works, including sites Centralia, Kent, and SeaTac.
"We hope we'll be able to open before the end of this calendar year," Ford said.
March marks the opening of the first schools outside of Washington state. Bezos Academy will be opening its first school Orlando, Florida, and Houston, Texas.