Why WeWork opened a school

Morning singalongs. Daily yoga and meditation. Hebrew and Mandarin classes. Welcome to WeWork's new private school, WeGrow.

Posted: Oct 31, 2018 5:07 AM
Updated: Oct 31, 2018 5:29 AM

Inside WeWork's New York City headquarters on a Thursday morning, a handful of kids are selling radishes, kale and peppers.

The children are "members" of WeWork's first school, WeGrow, where farming and agriculture is part of the curriculum. They are interacting with WeGrow employees browsing the goods: "How many cucumbers would you like?" one girl asks. "We take Apple Pay," another shouts.

The older kids, ages 5 to 9, picked the crops the day before during their weekly jaunt an hour away to a farm owned by WeWork cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann and Rebekah Neumann, chief brand officer and founding partner at WeWork. Rebekah Neumann is also WeGrow's founder and CEO.

WeGrow is WeWork's newest endeavor and its first foray into education. WeWork, founded in 2010, has made a name for itself as a global network of coworking spaces, charging customers more than $1,000 a month for space at its buildings that span more than 20 countries.

The company has already raised billions of dollars in funding and is reportedly in talks to raise another round, which could value it at $35 billion. Its selling point is "community," and it has taken a heavy handed approach to determining what that should look like: It recently issued a company-wide meat ban, citing environmental concerns.

WeGrow, which calls itself a "conscious entrepreneurial" school, is inspired by the Montessori approach to learning that gives children the freedom to discover and choose their activities, so their creativity and curious nature is preserved.

But the goal is not to create next-generation startup CEOs.

"Entrepreneurial is a bit of a trigger word for people," said Rebekah Neumann. "[We've] seen children do these things forever -- every time they've been running a lemonade stand, that's what that is."

WeGrow opened its doors this fall after launching a pilot program last year. Currently, 46 kids are enrolled in classes from pre-Kindergarten to fourth grade. The private school costs between $36,000 to $42,000, depending on the age of your child, but 60% of its students are receiving some type of financial aid paid for by WeWork. WeGrow works with School and Student Services to access a family's financials and determine aid amounts.

The kids start every morning with live music, followed by yoga and meditation. They spend time in nature and opt to take either Hebrew or Mandarin courses.

WeGrow students learn science, math, social studies and language arts. The company has yet to determine what type of standardized tests it will incorporate to benchmark their progress.

It also has a built-in mentorship program for kids to connect with WeWork community members with careers in areas kids might be interested in.

Only about one-third of the students are children of WeWork employees or members, but Rebekah Neumann sees WeGrow as a way to bring its employees and their families closer together. She also calls it a key part of WeWork's ambitious core goals.

"We want to make a world where people can work to make a life and not just a living, but that's part of a larger, more holistic mission to elevate the world's consciousness, to create a world where people are happy and fulfilled and living in a sharing state," Rebekah Neumann told CNN Business.

When the Neumanns started to have kids -- now they have five -- Rebekah said it became clear how important it is to teach these values at a young age.

"[WeGrow is] not really a departure from the [WeWork] mission at all, even though on the surface I can understand that it might look like that."

In recent years, WeWork opened a gym, turned a Wall Street mailroom into a public speakeasy bar, and acquired companies, including community platform Meetup.com. It also bought Lord & Taylor's iconic department store on Fifth Avenue for $850 million to serve as its new headquarters. Despite its growth, the company is still trying to appropriately set its own culture.

The Neumanns aren't alone in trying to reinvent education with the help of some venture capital.

The Alt School, founded by former Google employee Max Antilla in 2014, is backed by powerful investors such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. Its selling point is personalized education by merging technology with learning to understand and tailor to the needs of each child. It raised more than $130 million in venture capital and opened nearly a dozen schools in California and New York.

But over the past year, Alt School shuttered some of its locations and refocused on selling its software to schools, a potentially more profitable endeavor.

According to Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, businesses -- even those with the best intentions -- have to make money.

"Alt School retrenching, cutting back, closing their school in Palo Alto and disappointing those parents who send their kids there, is one example," Cuban told CNN Business.

Although WeGrow is able to get off the ground with the help of its parent company, it is optimistic about its future as a profitable endeavor.

"It will eventually be able to sustain independently for sure," said Neumann, who hopes WeGrow will some day exist in every city WeWork operates in. "We're going to take it one step at a time right now."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 68433

Reported Deaths: 2980
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion14863719
Lake7101271
Elkhart459777
Allen3635158
St. Joseph315479
Hamilton2513104
Cass17519
Hendricks1750105
Vanderburgh172612
Johnson1652118
Porter119539
Tippecanoe110311
Clark108145
Madison84765
LaPorte83829
Kosciusko81912
Howard81065
Bartholomew74347
Marshall74222
Floyd69444
Monroe68630
Delaware63852
Noble63728
Boone63546
Dubois62612
Hancock62337
Jackson5524
LaGrange54210
Warrick51630
Shelby51126
Grant49629
Vigo47410
Dearborn46528
Morgan42532
Henry36118
Clinton3573
White34710
Montgomery34321
Lawrence32827
Wayne3179
Decatur31432
Harrison29422
Miami2582
Scott25010
Daviess24619
Greene23934
Franklin22410
DeKalb2224
Putnam2228
Jennings21012
Jasper2082
Gibson2004
Steuben2003
Ripley1887
Perry17212
Starke1657
Orange16424
Wabash1613
Posey1580
Fayette1557
Jefferson1492
Whitley1486
Fulton1462
Carroll1452
Wells1342
Knox1310
Huntington1183
Washington1161
Spencer1143
Newton11010
Tipton1075
Randolph1034
Clay975
Jay820
Adams812
Rush794
Owen781
Sullivan761
Pulaski721
Brown701
Fountain632
Benton600
Blackford532
Ohio514
Pike460
Parke451
Switzerland430
Crawford420
Martin420
Vermillion380
Union320
Warren191
Unassigned0200

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93963

Reported Deaths: 3539
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17254514
Cuyahoga12753477
Hamilton9160248
Lucas4944318
Montgomery405778
Summit3294217
Marion288444
Butler271459
Mahoning2411253
Pickaway235742
Stark1690132
Lorain163476
Warren163435
Columbiana158260
Trumbull1433103
Fairfield125425
Delaware120618
Licking112543
Clark108613
Lake104336
Wood92458
Clermont85511
Medina83533
Miami76937
Tuscarawas74713
Portage71760
Allen65442
Greene62611
Belmont58926
Richland54012
Ashtabula53945
Mercer53513
Geauga53143
Erie52427
Wayne49958
Ross4014
Huron3764
Ottawa35925
Athens3451
Madison33310
Sandusky33217
Holmes3226
Darke32127
Hancock3202
Auglaize2225
Lawrence2200
Union2161
Jefferson2063
Washington19722
Putnam19217
Scioto1881
Coshocton1866
Muskingum1811
Knox1692
Crawford1685
Preble1662
Seneca1613
Shelby1604
Morrow1582
Hardin15012
Clinton1486
Fulton1401
Champaign1381
Ashland1333
Highland1321
Defiance1294
Williams1243
Logan1231
Wyandot1207
Brown1121
Guernsey1117
Hocking1119
Carroll1085
Henry1061
Perry1062
Fayette970
Monroe9118
Van Wert691
Jackson670
Pike660
Paulding610
Gallia581
Adams532
Vinton302
Meigs250
Harrison201
Morgan200
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 54°
Angola
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 52°
Huntington
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 51°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 72°
Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 72°
Sunny Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events