A Modern Take on the Village Parents Need to Raise a Child

November 4, 2021

Why We Invested in Guardians Collective

by Chian Gong, Partner

Parenting can feel overwhelming and lonely, especially in today’s digital age. Despite the growing amount of parenting advice available in books, videos, social media, and apps all available on-demand, what parents most need are trusted, contextualized supports that cut through the noise. Some questions simply deserve a deeply human response: Why won’t my baby sleep? Should I be worried that my child isn’t speaking yet? Is this normal?

These are just a few of the many topics that Guardians Collective helps families navigate, through a platform that connects them to peers and early childhood educators and makes parenting feel less isolating and more collaborative.

Relationships like these are at the heart of learning — and core to our thesis on early childhood education and the future of families. That’s why we are leading a $3.5 million seed round for Guardians Collective, and are excited to be joined by Impact America Fund and Gary Philanthropies.

On Guardians Collective, families are organized in small semi-anonymous groups led by early childhood educators who offer advice and activities to try. These environments provide an intimate, safe, and trusted space to ask questions and get guidance from peers and professionals.

With users across geographies, income brackets and cultures, Guardians Collective has created something that taps into the universality of parenthood. It also expands access to early childhood education, which is crucial to cognitive development and academic readiness — yet currently unaffordable or unavailable for more than half of American families.

For educators, the company offers a way to reach more families while supplementing their income. Just as companies like Outschool have created new ways for teachers to keep doing what they love while earning a sustainable wage, Guardians Collective is unlocking a similar opportunity for early childhood educators. This comes at a critical moment for the profession. High stress and low pay (the average childcare worker makes $12 per hour, which is below the poverty line) have led over 126,000 childcare workers to quit. Staffing shortages at child care centers are even more severe than at restaurants.

For parents, what is most powerful is the peer-to-peer connection that the platform provides, giving them a safe space to ask what can feel like embarrassing questions and to share the many highs and lows of parenthood. One parent said it best: “It’s like getting your own Mr. Rogers and a neighborhood that lives in your phone.”

Guardians Collective’s unique approach comes from a founder with a unique background and understanding of how communities form, sustain and thrive. Over the past decade, Saurabh Kamalapurkar worked with USAID and UNICEF to develop peer-to-peer education programs in countries recovering from conflict, such as Afghanistan and South Africa, and has seen firsthand what it takes to build trust and create learning communities from the ground up.

We first met Saurabh in late 2019, and the magic of Guardians Collective was already evident in his early pilot of 200-plus families. As the pandemic unfolded the following year, the urgency and demand for its platform sharpened into focus. Parents who in normal times relied on in-person groups now sought that support and community remotely.

We are thrilled to support Saurabh and his team as they expand Guardians Collective to serve families across the country, and ultimately across the globe. And through partnerships with employers, community organizers and government service providers, Guardians Collective will further scale its impact across other services that parents regularly use. In doing so, it is truly building the modern village that today’s families need to raise a child.