The Fayetteville-based nonprofit New Design School is expanding its education offerings to include programs tailored to younger students, ages 6 to 15, with the acquisition of Nerdies, an alternative education startup also located in Fayetteville.
Nerdies was donated to the New Design School by founder Brad Harvey, who will stay on at Nerdies for at least the next three years, he said.
Harvey said in founding Nerdies he originally intended the classes offered to be attainable for everyone. However, he found the business model required him to charge prices that are not affordable to many families.
Harvey hopes that now that Nerdies is part of a nonprofit organization, rather than for-profit, that the curriculum can be brought to a broader audience, because there will be more opportunity to “help kids who maybe couldn’t afford it.”
Sonia Gutiérrez, founder and chief of operations at New Design School, said, “Nerdies will be able to provide scholarships, increasing educational opportunities to a more diverse group of students.”
Founded in 2013, Nerdies promotes learning in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) through summer and after-school classes, featuring mentorship from area professionals in a variety of fields.
Subjects include robotics, Minecraft mods and graphic design.
Harvey said: “Nerdies focuses on the population of people who often don’t fit in or have activities that are geared toward them. Nerds are often not interested in sports and are more likely to play video games than ride a bike. Nerds could care less about the social scene, pay no attention to the latest fashion trends or care whether they are in the popular crowd.”
He used the term endearingly, adding that nerds are “a great group of people who need their own space.”
Founded in 2006, the New Design School has traditionally served adults through professional development and certificate-granting seminars in graphic design and animation. However, in a press release the school said Nerdies fits well within its overall mission “which focuses on closing the gap between real-world experience and education.”