OAO Named

In its Second Year, Florida Education Innovator, Optima Academy Online, named Yass Prize 2023 Quarterfinalist  


NAPLES, Fla. – Entering its second year, Naples-based Optima Academy Online, the world’s first virtual reality public charter school, is a 2023 Yass Prize Quarterfinalist. The Yass Foundation for Education recognizes dozens of organizations, building a network of innovative providers who demonstrate a commitment to new ideas, technologies and approaches aiming to bring education into the 21st century.  

Known as the Pulitzer of Education Innovation, the one-million-dollar Yass Prize celebrates the country’s education provider who best demonstrates STOP principles – sustainable, transformational, outstanding and permissionless. This year, the Yass Prize had over 2,500 applicants representing 27 million students across all 50 states. Of those, 64 quarterfinalists were chosen. 

Optima Academy Online was selected as a quarterfinalist due to its cutting-edge virtual reality technology fostering a collaborative learning approach from the comfort of students’ own homes. This immersive, interactive and engaging learning experience has resulted in exceptional academic test scores in Florida, outcomes the academy expects to replicate as it enters new states. 

“We are honored to be selected as a Yass Prize Quarterfinalist,” Founder and CEO of OptimaEd Erika Donalds said. “This distinction affirms we are creating meaningful educational experiences for students. Winning this award will allow us to continue to make a classical education more accessible to families across the country.”  

Just one year after its launch in Florida, OAO has already made a significant impact on education and school choice. Optima Academy Online finished its inaugural year with 175 Florida-based students and current enrollment numbers near 400 students across Florida, Arizona and Michigan. OAO courses and VR field trips are available in all 50 states through direct purchase, Education Savings Accounts, partner school districts, private schools, independent schools and afterschool programs.   

About Optima Academy Online   

Optima Academy Online (OAO) redefines education. We are an accredited virtual instruction provider integrating virtual reality into the student experience bringing immersive, classroom-based online learning to scholars regardless of location or economic status. 

Our mission is to train the minds and hearts of young people through a content rich, virtue-based classical education rooted in the liberal arts. To learn more visit us online at OptimaAcademy.Online.