2020
Annual Impact Report

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74,962,074

Total learners reached in 2020

24,137,484

Total low-income learners reached in 2020

We invest in people, ideas, and companies that rethink the way we learn and teach.

We support mission-driven founders willing to tackle the hard problems — to challenge the status quo and transform educational outcomes for all learners.
Matt Greenfield
Rick Segal
Michael Walden
Michelle Dervan
Ebony Brown
Joanne Cheng
Amanda Beaudoin

Our Values

WHAT DRIVES OUR WORK

We want to help people reach their full human potential and to thrive as workers, citizens, and family members.

We want to provide new opportunities to the poor, to members of an increasingly vulnerable middle class, to the illiterate, to the imprisoned, to those who struggle with a cognitive difference like autism or ADHD, and to those who face discrimination and persecution.

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Second, we want to transform learning for everyone, both rich and poor.

We believe that educational institutions, processes, and tools around the world are broken. Billions of people suffer and fail to achieve their potential because they are taught in the wrong way; our learning tools and institutions are hierarchical, rigid, and unidirectional. Abundant research demonstrates that what works is the opposite approach: people learn best through personalized, collaborative, self-paced exploration linked to their own interests and passions.

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Third, we want to make our own firm, our portfolio companies, and the society they serve more humane, more just, more equitable, and more inclusive.

We practice empathy and believe that empathy is a crucial business skill for us and for the entrepreneurs we back. We believe that a strong social mission is a powerful business advantage that attracts talent and helps reduce risk.

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We want to help people reach their full human potential and to thrive as workers, citizens, and family members.

We want to provide new opportunities to the poor, to members of an increasingly vulnerable middle class, to the illiterate, to the imprisoned, to those who struggle with a cognitive difference like autism or ADHD, and to those who face discrimination and persecution.

1

Second, we want to transform learning for everyone, both rich and poor.

We believe that educational institutions, processes, and tools around the world are broken. Billions of people suffer and fail to achieve their potential because they are taught in the wrong way; our learning tools and institutions are hierarchical, rigid, and unidirectional. Abundant research demonstrates that what works is the opposite approach: people learn best through personalized, collaborative, self-paced exploration linked to their own interests and passions.

2

Third, we want to make our own firm, our portfolio companies, and the society they serve more humane, more just, more equitable, and more inclusive.

We practice empathy and believe that empathy is a crucial business skill for us and for the entrepreneurs we back. We believe that a strong social mission is a powerful business advantage that attracts talent and helps reduce risk.

3
Letter from THE team

Impact
Investing in 2020

In 2020 the pandemic changed education around the globe. People of any age trying to learn anything struggled with grief; terror; loneliness; anger; hunger; homelessness; racist policies and budgets and the constant spectacle of violence by racists, uniformed and otherwise; lack of a quiet, private place; lack of computing devices; lack of connection to the internet; lack of accommodations for special needs; and lack of childcare and eldercare and help in caring for the sick. The pandemic dramatically exacerbated inequality.

Even the wealthiest and safest people in the U.S. and most other nations now struggle with an invisible wound, a painful and distracting blankness that falls across every effort to concentrate and to learn. For learners, the trauma of the pandemic sharpened existential questions about whether a particular formal credential was worth pursuing. Learners have become much less tolerant of obligatory busywork: they want an education honed down to the essentials.

What does that education honed down to essentials look like? We have a crystallizing thesis about what learners, and particularly economically vulnerable learners, are looking for and having trouble finding. We call it minimum viable upskilling, and in its purest form it has the following traits: 1. It takes less time than a traditional degree, in ideally weeks or a few months. 2. It comes with a guarantee of a good job, or at least an interview for a good job, for those who complete the program. 3. It is free or costs very little. 4. It fully recognizes a student’s prior learning. 5. It recognizes the values, preferences, and aspirations of students as well as their skills and aptitudes.

This may sound like an absurdly demanding set of requirements, but we are starting to see the emergence of strong minimum viable upskilling programs, including some within our portfolio. One example involves Pathstream, which helps students prepare for jobs including data analyst, digital marketer, sales administrator, and project manager. For each of those roles, Pathstream runs a 4 to 6 month program where the student earns college credits and certificates from a major tech company like Facebook, Salesforce, Asana, or Unity. Mastering the relevant tech platform is a major edge in landing a good early-career job. Many students will soon be able to have their employers pay the full cost of a Pathstream course. And Pathstream has an expanding network of partnerships with employers, including staffing company Kelly Services.

Similarly, Correlation One has found sponsors that will allow the company to offer its Data Science For All program free to ten thousand future data analysts and data scientists over the next three years. For their October 2020 cohort, Correlation One chose 500 people from a pool of 8,500 applicants. The admitted students were 60% Black, 30% Latinx, and 15% LGBTQ+. The program includes mentoring and connections to multiple employers.

For many education technology companies, 2020 was a year of unprecedented growth. Online learning moved from the periphery of formal education to the center, from a supplemental or inferior option to a central one. Some companies struggled, but many companies experienced a decade’s worth of growth in a year. Valuation multiples for many education companies have increased dramatically, competition among investors has intensified, and a bubble is emerging. Some of the most successful education companies, though, widen rather than narrow the gap between rich and poor. And many financially successful companies have anemic completion and engagement numbers.

As investors who want to make the world more just and equitable, we try to choose our companies and our entrepreneurs thoughtfully. We look for companies whose core strategy centers on serving a vulnerable population. We want the commitment to social impact to be hard-wired into the business model. We did our first close on our first fund back in August of 2012 (though the fund technically belongs to the 2014 vintage year) and it gives us great pleasure to be able to say that we have seen very little mission drift in our portfolio.

As of year end 2020, we have had seventeen partial and total exits from our portfolio, and we are happy to say that even our companies that have gone public or been acquired have largely maintained fidelity to their missions. Some acquirers under-utilize or even destroy the assets they acquire, but we have not seen a former portfolio company go over to the dark side. And there are many instances where one of our companies became a critical component of the strategy of a much larger acquirer. For example, the skills assessment capabilities of our company Smarterer became a crucial differentiator for their acquirer Pluralsight. Our Fund II company Trilogy Education Services contributes an increasing percentage of the revenues of its acquirer, our Fund I company 2U, and helps 2U address a more economically vulnerable student population. McGraw Hill Education does not use all of the capabilities of the Engrade platform, but Engrade’s software is now the content management platform used to deliver all of acquirer McGraw Hill’s digital assets, which play an important role in the lives of millions of people every month.

Our firm continues to have a slightly different perspective on education than other investors do. And we believe that our perspective is needed more than ever. Schools, colleges, and upskilling programs are frequently teaching the wrong skills. The skills we all need include the ability to listen and empathize, to ask interesting questions and define problems, to collaborate, to solve problems creatively, to write and speak clearly, to evaluate the quality of information, to think critically, to analyze probabilities, to analyze and change our own habits of thought, to translate ideas and paradigms from one domain to another, to think about the behavior of systems, and to mentor and be mentored, to name just a few. We need less grading, less memorization of facts and formulae, fewer videos of lectures, and fewer multiple-choice tests. We need more active learning, collaboration, exploration, peer feedback, debate, simulations, interviews, metacognitive reflection, prototyping, projects, and portfolios. We need learning at every level to blend the continual play of pre-school, the intense collaboration of a hackathon, and the self-directed deep exploration of a doctoral program.

The entrepreneurs we are looking for thus have a double task: to solve an urgent problem for the current system, and to transform the system into one that serves the whole student. We are looking for Trojan horse companies that carry a secret cargo of heightened empathy and collaboration and joy.

Yours sincerely,

Matt, Rick, Michael, Michelle, Ebony, Joanne & Amanda

The entrepreneurs we are looking for have a double task: to solve an urgent problem for the current system, and to transform the system into one that serves the whole student. We are looking for Trojan horse companies that carry a secret cargo of heightened empathy, collaboration, and joy.

READ MORE

A Step Towards Equity

In 2020, the buildup of political and racial unrest boiled over when a police officer, who our country trusted to protect and serve, murdered George Floyd. Within venture capital, we reflected on the inequities in funding: of venture-backed startups in the U.S., 77% of founders are white, whereas only 1.8% are Latinx and 1% are Black.

The root cause of this imbalance is complex and this past year, our team has taken action on three fronts:

Rethink Education has earmarked $5mm from Rethink Education III to invest in seed stage companies launched by underrepresented people of color helping solve some of the toughest challenges from education to workforce development.

The team has coined this initiative RETHINK EQUITY, acknowledging that venture capital is hardly distributed on a level playing field.

While this initiative is new, Rethink Education’s track record of investing in diverse founders dates back to the firm’s inception in 2012. Currently, 12.5% of Rethink Education’s portfolio is founded and/or led by Black and Latinx CEOs.

We need more diversity among VC fund managers. Venture capital is one of the least diverse asset classes as far as investor representation. Just 1% of venture capitalists are Latinx and 3% are Black. In an industry where deals are facilitated by warm introductions, diverse founders are often outside of traditional early-stage capital networks, both angel and institutional.

Our team was thrilled to help Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a leader in innovative instruction delivery, assign part of its endowment to investing in diverse fund managers as another frontier in addressing structural inequalities. In October 2020, SNHU’s board of directors led a Socially Responsible Investing Initiative and our team’s Matt Greenfield & Ebony Brown found and vetted the fund managers that presented to the board. SNHU ultimately invested $11mm across five African-American-led VC funds.

The Board of Directors has a powerful impact on how a company serves its end users. Yet, underrepresented ethnic & racial groups make up 40% of the U.S. population but just 12.5% of board directors.

At Rethink Education, we are taking action to ensure that the boards of our portfolio companies reflect the learners served. To that end, Rick Segal, Managing Partner, recently stepped down from his Board Director seat at APDS, to be replaced by Lawrence Bartley. APDS delivers education to incarcerated learners, many of whom are black and brown men, who are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system. Bartley is Founder & Director of “News Inside” of the Marshall Project, an award-winning, nonpartisan news organization focused on criminal justice and has direct experience with the prison system, having been incarcerated at 17 years old and then serving 27 years. Rick's decision gives voting power to a leader who not only shares the racial identity of APDS’ learners but also deeply understands the correctional system.

Supporting Founders of Color

Rethink Education has earmarked $5mm from Rethink Education III to invest in underrepresented people of color helping solve some of the toughest challenges from education to workforce development. The team has coined this initiative Rethink Equity, acknowledging that venture capital is hardly distributed on a level playing field.

While this initiative is new, Rethink Education’s track record of investing in diverse founders dates back to the firm’s inception in 2012. Currently, 14% of Rethink Education’s portfolio is founded and/or led by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.

Our 2021 Investment Theses

Our investment focus in 2021 reflects our commitment to further impact through capital.

$268 billion will be spent on education technology globally this year. We are living through a watershed moment where the adoption of online learning has radically accelerated, and this mass shift in teaching & learning has exposed the deficiencies in current technology platforms.

This acceleration has clarified our long-held theses on the future of education and how technology can help unlock human potential.

Read our full 2021 Investment Theses here

Put human conversation & collaboration at the core of the learning experience

We have always believed that there would be a continued need for education that involved humans talking to each other and defining and solving problems with each other. The institutions, processes, habits, tools, and platforms to do synchronous online education successfully, though, are just starting to emerge.

Engage students in a personalized way that recognizes their interests

Some discussions of education innovation lose track of the emotions of the learner. This is a mistake, since without joy and immersion, learning simply does not succeed. We are looking for the rare products and services that create curiosity and intense excitement in learners — that engage them deeply, help them develop a new learning habit, and ideally put them into a state of flow where they lose track of time.

Elevate the teaching of human skills and not solely core academics

Our education systems are frequently teaching the wrong skills. The skills we all need include the ability to listen and empathize, to ask interesting questions & define problems, to collaborate, and to think critically. We need less grading and less memorization of facts and formulae. We need learning at every level to blend the continual play of pre-school, the intense collaboration of a hackathon, and the self-directed deep exploration of a doctoral program.

Tools for system change

We are interested in tools that have the capacity to transform existing education systems on a national and even a global scale. We will continue to invest in administrative tools that deliver improved access, affordability, employability, fairness, efficiency, flexibility, and completion rates; that integrate siloed systems; and that replace extrinsic motivation systems with intrinsic ones.

Provide continuous feedback loops between the learner, peers, instructors, and employers

We are interested in software that makes education more humane and improves the feedback loops between the learner and the institution. Schools, colleges and training programs need the ability to continually tune and adjust their offerings to improve the employability of their graduates.

Hone the skills needed to filter, curate, and judge information

We have since our fund’s inception been interested in curation as a key educational function. We need many new tools to create trusted collections of learning objects and structure them into coherent learning pathways. We also need to do a better job of curating human connections for learning collaborations.

Focus on habit formation

Nestling comfortably into people’s current habits is unquestionably a powerful and necessary strategy for most learning products. But for a small number of exceptional education products, it is possible to actually change people’s habits and transform the way they inhabit the world. Most educational institutions pay far too little attention to tacit knowledge, the things we don’t know that we know and cannot articulate that nonetheless shape our actions.

Business models for the future of learning

There are two key questions shaping our evolving thinking about what kind of business models we are excited about backing: is it a good business model and is it aligned with our values? First, will this business model help create a rapidly scalable, efficient, defensible business? Second, does it serve the needs of vulnerable people? The very best of these enterprise models also deliver a strong return on investment to all of their stakeholders.

2020 PORTFOLIO

124,131
Total Students Reached

This number does not include companies that exited the portfolio prior to Fall 2020

$186 MILLION

Total cumulative dollars invested
$152,235
Total Dollars Invested

This number does not include companies that exited the portfolio prior to Fall 2020

74,962,074

Total learners reached in 2020
69
Total Portfolio Companies

Includes 9 companies with investments from multiple funds (AdmitHub, AllHere, Care Academy, Crehana, Ellevation, Kenzie Academy, NoRedInk, Pathstream, SVAcademy)

24,137,484

Total low-income learners reached in 2020
109,467
Total Low‑Income Students Reached

This number does not include companies that exited the portfolio prior to Fall 2020

69

Total portfolio companies
36%
% of Portfolio Companies with a female CEO/Founder
Industry Average is 9.2%

Diversity in U.S. Startups report by RateMyInvestor and Diversity VC. link
https://ratemyinvestor.com/diversity_report

36%

Portfolio companies with a female CEO/Co-Founder
15
Total Exit Transactions

Exit transactions include the public offering of 2U; cash acquisitions of Pathbrite by Cengage, Intellus by Macmillan, General Assembly and Course Report by Adecco Group, Neverware by Google, Rethink First by K1 Investment Management, and StraighterLine by BV Investment Partners; cash and stock acquisitions of Engrade by McGraw-Hill, Smarterer by Pluralsight, MissionU by WeWork, Flocabulary by Nearpod, Trilogy Education Services by 2U and Imbellus by Roblox; and stock acquisitions of Entangled by Guild Education.

RETHINK EDUCATION I

Vintage
2014
21
Companies

RETHINK EDUCATION II

Vintage
2016
25
Companies

RETHINK EDUCATION SEED

Vintage
2017
19
Companies

RETHINK EDUCATION III

Vintage
2019
13
Companies

OUR Portfolio

By Geography

Note: Data counts exclude one investment in an accelerator cohort
2020 Impact Outcomes

Things We Are Proud Of

In 2020, our portfolio companies made some major progress addressing urgent problems in education. We are proud to support companies that are:

In 2020, our portfolio companies made some major progress addressing urgent problems in education. We are proud to support companies that are:

Enabling collaborative online K-12 instruction

Hapara helped improve teacher instruction and the student learning experience for 2,000,000 students in 2020 and empowered schools to more easily transition to remote learning during COVID-19 through its suite of online K-12 instructional and learning tools.

Improving literacy & reading fluency

Amira Learning’s AI tutor empowered 150,000 students to read with greater confidence in 2020, with students using Amira observing 2x reading fluency growth compared with non-users.

Democratizing job access for overlooked students

SV Academy partners with 400+ leading SaaS companies to increase access to tech sales jobs for students from non-traditional and underserved backgrounds. In 2020, the company helped students expand their income by 2.4x post-training, representing a $50k average increase in income. Of SV Academy graduates, 97% had no tech background before joining the program and 70% are first-generation college grads.

Empowering workers to connect learning to opportunities

80% of employees fear that they lack the skills needed for current or future roles. Degreed’s upskilling platform enables 6.5 million learners across 340+ companies to develop their skills and connect their learning into specific economic opportunities, including pathways into a new internal job or promotion, or higher pay.

Closing the achievement gap for English Language Learners (ELLs)

Ellevation helped 800+ districts and 100,000+ educators better support the needs of 3,500,000 English learners and empower them to reach their full potential in 2020 through its ELL program management and instruction platform.

Reducing college attrition for non-traditional students

Upswing worked with 70 colleges and universities to provide access to student success services to 500,000+ students in 2020 and eliminate the gap in resources available to nontraditional and diverse populations, especially in rural communities. Schools partnering with Upswing observe a 12% increase in student persistence.

Enabling collaborative online K-12 instruction

Hapara helped improve teacher instruction and the student learning experience for 2,000,000 students in 2020 and empowered schools to more easily transition to remote learning during COVID-19 through its suite of online K-12 instructional and learning tools.

Democratizing job access for overlooked students

SV Academy partners with 400+ leading SaaS companies to increase access to tech sales jobs for students from non-traditional and underserved backgrounds. In 2020, the company helped students expand their income by 2.4x, representing a $50k average increase in income post-training. Of SV Academy graduates, 97% had no tech background before joining the program and 70% are first-generation college grads.

Enabling collaborative online K-12 instruction

Hapara helped improve teacher instruction and the student learning experience for 2,000,000 students in 2020 and empowered schools to more easily transition to remote learning during COVID-19 through its suite of online K-12 instructional and learning tools.

Improving literacy & reading fluency

Amira Learning’s AI tutor empowered 150,000 students to read with greater confidence in 2020, with students using Amira observing 2x reading fluency growth compared with non-users.

Democratizing job access for overlooked students

SV Academy partners with 400+ leading SaaS companies to increase access to tech sales jobs for students from non-traditional and underserved backgrounds. In 2020, the company helped students expand their income by 2.4x, representing a $50k average increase in income post-training. Of SV Academy graduates, 97% had no tech background before joining the program and 70% are first-generation college grads.

Empowering workers to connect learning to opportunities

80% of employees fear that they lack the skills needed for current or future roles. Degreed’s upskilling platform enables 6.5 million learners across 340+ companies to develop their skills and connect their learning into specific economic opportunities, including pathways into a new internal job or promotion, or higher pay.

Closing the achievement gap for English Language Learners (ELLs)

Ellevation helped 800+ districts and 100,000+ educators better support the needs of 3,500,000 English learners and empower them to reach their full potential in 2020 through its ELL program management and instruction platform.

Reducing college attrition for non-traditional students

Upswing worked with 70 colleges and universities to provide access to student success services to 500,000+ students in 2020 and eliminate the gap in resources available to nontraditional and diverse populations, especially in rural communities. Schools partnering with Upswing observe a 12% increase in student persistence.

PORTFOLIO COMPANIES

Rising Up to the Challenge of COVID-19

I always have my Formative live results page up so I can see if I need to do any immediate intervention before they continue to the next content level.  - Formative teacher

During COVID-19, Formative offered its school and district product to teachers to help them transition and better teach in a new virtual environment by tracking student understanding and providing support based on feedback in real-time during class.

4,700+
K-12 schools & districts signed up for the COVID-19 Assistance Program
FREE
to students and teachers

You're super helpful and these messages are a crucial ingredient to my success. How do I keep receiving them or, can we just reset the bot again for 2021.  - Student

In 2020, Mainstay (fka AdmitHub) offered a COVID-19 AI chatbot to Higher Ed Institutions so students could get clear and immediate answers from their schools around school-specific pandemic policies and health and safety.

Nearly 100
Higher Ed institutions received access
$0
cost to schools and students

Mainstay also partnered with CommonApp to support first-generation & low-income college students through the especially challenging COVID summer melt season, a high-risk period of time when students who enroll in college end up not attending in the fall because they lack the resources or support network to pay tuition, obtain financial aid or find housing.

400,000
first-year college students and high school seniors engaged in 2020
1 million
messages sent by students to the chatbot

I think the biggest change I’ve seen in Hannah is her level of confidence in her least favorite and hardest subject in school. As a working parent, it’s made my life so much easier knowing that she’s in good hands.  - Vivvi parent

During COVID-19, Vivvi recognized the critical challenge of childcare for emergency healthcare workers. The team partnered with New York-Presbyterian Hospital to launch an in-person childcare center in addition to virtual tutoring to both support healthcare hero parents and enhance learning and care for their children.

1,000+
children enrolled in the program, allowing hospital employees relief from the mental and physical burden of childcare
78%
improved academic performance in children
71%
more confidence in children
77%
less burnout at work for parents
41%
increase in safety and focus at work for parents

Case Studies & Interviews

The below highlights the breadth and depth of impact that our early- and growth-stage portfolio companies are having in the education sector.

Increasing persistence in Higher Ed by expanding options for students through the power of course-sharing.

Read More
Joshua Pierce
Co-Founder & CEO
$50mM
Tuition saved by students through accelerated program completion since founding
350+
Higher Ed institutions
partnered with Acadeum
50,000+
Accredited, vetted online courses available to help students complete their degree programs
Fund RTE III
City
Austin, TX
Year Founded 2016
Type of Evidence
Company-generated case studies
Fund
RTE II
City
San Francisco, CA
Year Founded
2015
Type of Evidence
Company-provided case study
THE PROBLEM

Every year, two million students who begin college in the U.S. will drop out before earning a diploma and only 44% of first-time bachelor’s degree recipients will complete their degree within four years. Higher education is failing to see students through to completion in large part due to inefficiencies that are preventable. The average graduate of a four-year college takes 12 to 15 more credits than they need, accumulating debt in the process, while other students struggle to find or get into the courses they need to graduate. Clunky transfer processes, fully booked classes, staff shortages, and disparities in course requirements from program to program and school to school are the culprit. These structural barriers put students who face minor and major life setbacks at peril of not graduating, through no fault of their own.

THE COMPANY

Acadeum powers collaborative higher education consortia that help colleges and universities find efficiencies and close access gaps through course-sharing partnerships with like-minded institutions. Acadeum enables students to tap into a wide network of courses to find the classes they need in order to graduate from their home institution, while helping partner institutions fill course seats that would otherwise go unused. Through Acadeum, students can access course equivalencies from 50,000+ accredited online courses from other schools that are transferable to their current program. In this way, students have a better chance of succeeding and passing courses at their home institution, and schools can dramatically improve retention and completion rates while also benefiting from an alternative revenue source through selling their courses.

THE IMPACT

Acadeum is used by approximately 350 colleges and universities and is estimated to have saved students $50 million since founding as they accelerate their path to completion. The course offerings made available through the platform are transformational for students across a number of use cases, including improving GPAs to regain good academic standing, summer and winter term progress offerings to help students catch up or get ahead, supporting student-athletes to meet athletic credit-hour and GPA requirements, and bringing “stopped-out” students back to school to complete their degrees. Furthermore, higher education institutions using Acadeum have gained $25 million in new revenue by offering their own courses on the course-sharing platform.

Bringing Students Back to Good Standing

Acadeum’s course-sharing capabilities have had a profound impact on students who were at academic peril. At Eureka College, an Acadeum partner, students on academic probation or suspension were unlikely to return to their courses. Many of those students were stuck in what Eureka College deemed a “cycle of perpetual probation.”

“The negative impact of a single poor grade on a student’s GPA cannot be overstated,” an Acadeum case study explains. “It takes three good grades to offset one poor grade, and students with poor grades tend to cycle on and off probation.”

Students who received a D, F or who Withdrew from a course (“DFW status”) were at risk of failure heading into summer. Many only had the option to retake a course at a local community college. By using Acadeum, however, Eureka was able to target students who were at-risk and provide a solution by pointing them to available courses in Acadeum’s network. The school advised students on taking specific, transferrable Acadeum courses over the Summer and explained what grades were needed in order to regain academic standing. Across the summers of 2018 and 2019, Eureka brought 81% of “DFW'' students back to good academic standing by the following Fall semester. And in the Summer of 2019, 87 students took 138 Summer online courses, earning passing grades in 90% of the classes, and with 94% of students returning in Fall 2019.

Using AI to understand and solve the root causes of chronic absenteeism in schools.

Read More
Joanna Smith
Founder & CEO
2 Million
Students and families supported in 2020
30%
Increase in attendance through newly-developed AI-Powered Chatbot product
Fund
RTE Seed & II
City
Boston, MA
Year Founded 2017
Type of Evidence
Customer-reported outcomes data
Fund
RTE II
City
San Francisco, CA
Year Founded
2015
Type of Evidence
Company-provided case study
THE PROBLEM

Even well before the pandemic, around 8+ million children in grades K-12 were missing 15 or more days of school each year, making chronic absenteeism among the most serious and costly problems facing American education. Chronic absenteeism is a leading cause of dropout. One study showed that only 11% of high school students with chronic absenteeism persisted to their second year of college, compared to 51% of students who had regular high school attendance. With the widespread shift to digital learning that took place suddenly in 2020, the challenges around helping students to persist in their attendance without the physical support of teachers and educators became even more complex. During the pandemic-impacted school year, absentee numbers are thought to have skyrocketed to around 20-40% of all children in the U.S.

THE COMPANY

AllHere fosters student engagement and attendance with mobile messaging powered by AI. The company develops chatbots that help families and students on the path to and through school. Their new chatbot—referred to as a “high-quality advisor for each and every child”—sends interactive “nudges” to families regarding absence, and combines artificial intelligence, proactive nudges, and a vast knowledge base to engage families and students in authentic, personalized conversations. This vehicle allows families and students to text back and get support on school-related questions or problems 24/7 and also empowers them to meet critical milestones in their K-12 journey.

THE IMPACT

Prior to COVID-19, AllHere enabled more than 130,000 truancy interventions, routinely sharing data with school professionals to allow for earlier warning signs and opportunity recognition. In the pandemic-impacted school year, the company served over two million students nationwide with always-on chatbot communication and intervention technology. To date, 7,500 schools and 90+ districts use AllHere. Participating students have improved their attendance by an average of 17%. Among AllHere’s pre-COVID adopters, schools reported that 47% of truant students (those who had missed 20% or more of the school year) were successfully brought back from truant status, with 83% of those students improving attendance by 30% on average, or five days of seat-time.

A Powerful Pivot to AI

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 gave AllHere the chance to support educators and students in a new digital teaching and learning environment, but it also served as an opportunity for the company to make a powerful pivot from supporting only in-person interventions to deploying an AI-powered technology that is more scalable than even they imagined. In 2020, AllHere migrated their existing clients to their new AI chatbot and began offering the product to families and students in participating schools.

As a result of using AllHere’s AI-Powered Chatbot, districts such as Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland have seen improvements of up to 30% increase in attendance for students across 30,000 participating households. In addition, 80% of support requests are handled automatically by the bot and 98% of families have opted in, saving staff approximately 5,550 hours of time that they would have otherwise used engaging families through traditionally manual methods.

We are actively creating a world where the education system’s response to the pandemic is not ‘return to normal’, because ‘normal’ led to the widespread failures in supporting the most vulnerable students, which exacerbated already-staggering inequities. We have an opportunity to reimagine what it looks like for technology to make attending school on a regular basis possible, for each and every child.

Joanna Smith, Founder & CEO, AllHere

Creating equal access to the data-driven jobs of tomorrow.

Read More
Rasheed Sabar
Co-Founder &
Co-CEO
Sham Mustafa
Co-Founder &
Co-CEO
100%
of training program tuition is funded by employers so students can train with no cost burden
90%
of learners in the Women’s Summit received internships, jobs, or promotions post-training
Diverse
DS4A/Empowerment cohort: 57% Female, 60% Black, 30% Hispanic, 15% students identifying as LGBTQ+
Fund RTE III
City
New York, NY
Year Founded 2015
Type of Evidence
Company-submitted survey data
Fund
RTE II
City
San Francisco, CA
Year Founded
2015
Type of Evidence
Company-provided case study
THE PROBLEM

The economy of the future will be powered and reshaped by data science and artificial intelligence (AI). One estimate predicts that these fields will contribute approximately $16 trillion to the global GDP by 2030. With the rising importance of these sectors, skills like data fluency are becoming paramount and all industries are recognizing the importance of hiring talent skilled in data science. Yet, this field faces a critical problem: a lack of inclusion. Traditionally, data science & AI hiring has skewed away from women, Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented candidates who have not had the same access and economic opportunity to these well-paying jobs. In fact, recent data suggests that Black people make up only 3% of data and analytics professionals and women comprise just 15% of data scientists. As the industry grows, employers can ill afford to overlook diverse professionals in their hiring. Furthermore, a lack of diversity in the data science workforce will skew the data and systems we depend on in our daily lives further away from an equitable and just representation of the diversity of our society.

THE COMPANY

Correlation One has a vision to “create equal access to the data jobs of tomorrow” and is building the talent infrastructure for the data economy. Their solutions—tailored to governments, employers, professionals, and students—include a data science training platform, an assessment platform designed to eliminate bias in data science recruiting, and an array of annual data science competitions designed to unearth non-traditional and “hidden” candidates. With these three offerings, the company aims to create the most diverse data talent ecosystem in the world. Since launch in 2015, Correlation One has built an expert community of 300,000+ data professionals and 600 partnerships with businesses, universities, and data science organizations in the U.S., UK, Canada, China, and Latin America.

THE IMPACT
Increasing Diversity & Access to Opportunity in Data Science

A core part of Correlation One’s mission is to increase racial and gender diversity in data science through training, mentorship and immersion to increase the supply of diverse talent. The company does this through their Data Science for All (DS4A) programs, which are immersive, 13-week data skills training programs that are cost-free for women, students of color, and other underrepresented minority groups, with an aim of encouraging more diverse talent pools in the sector. In 2020, Correlation One announced its DS4A Empowerment program to train 10,000 people belonging to underrepresented groups and communities by 2022. The training involves real-world projects, case studies, and the opportunity to work closely with mentors. Through the program, students will learn the core data analytics skills needed to succeed in jobs such as data analysis, product management, business intelligence, sales engineering, trading, and other data-related technical fields.

Correlation One launched its initial Empowerment cohort of 500 students in October 2020. Applicants were selected using a resume-blind meritocratic admission process from a pool of 8,500 candidates spanning 48 states across 250+ colleges and universities, including representation from 35 HBCUs. This class was 57% female and comprised 60% Black students, 30% Hispanic students, and 15% students who identify as LGBTQ+, in addition to other underrepresented populations including military veterans and refugees. The 13-week training program was cost-free to students, funded by 22 corporate sponsors eager to access the diverse, high-quality talent being developed through this program.

Unlocking every writer’s potential.

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Jeff Scheur
Founder & CEO
60%+
of U.S. K-12 school districts
have students & teachers
using NoRedInk
2x+
Increase in writing skill gains
for economically
disadvantaged students
2 billion
Exercises completed by students on NoRedInk in 2020
Fund RTE I & II
City
San Francisco, CA
Year Founded 2012
Type of Evidence
Company-submitted case study
Fund
RTE II
City
San Francisco, CA
Year Founded
2015
Type of Evidence
Company-provided case study
THE PROBLEM

The rapid evolution of jobs in recent years has seen companies increasingly require that new hires possess skills like tech literacy and cloud computing competency. Yet, it seems that the most basic building block of communication—strong writing—is often overlooked and critically lacking among high school graduates. In fact, the National Assessment of Educational Progress report (the nation’s largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what U.S. students know and can do in various subjects) found that only 24% of students are considered proficient writers, and just 3% are considered advanced writers. This missing component in graduates’ toolkits will hinder not only their ability to pursue higher education, but also their lifelong workplace success.

THE COMPANY

NoRedInk is a K-12 web-based, personalized language learning platform that strives to “build stronger writers through interest-based curriculum, adaptive exercises, and actionable data.” Their platform helps students of all abilities improve their grammar and writing by providing unlimited practice with content and writing prompts based on their interests, such as favorite celebrities and TV shows, while offering instantaneous feedback on performance and progress-tracking. With NoRedInk, teachers can free up their time to focus on the big-picture issues in students’ writing.

THE IMPACT

NoRedInk is used by students and teachers in more than 60% of all U.S. K-12 school districts. The company has conducted various studies that indicate product usage is positively correlated with student growth on state and national assessments. In one such study of 7,300 middle school students across urban, suburban, and rural environments, 37% of students using NoRedInk grew by at least 200% of their expected annual growth on the MAP Language Usage test, and every 10 additional topics students mastered on the site correlated with an additional 20% increase in language skills growth. This kind of access to personalized support and writing practice can in particular help students from economically disadvantaged households and underserved demographics, who may benefit most from the support of education technology to bolster their writing ability.

NoRedInk Helps Wylie Independent School District Fine-Tune Their Teaching & Learning

A 2020 case study details how, in the Wylie Independent School District (ISD) in Texas, students were able to significantly raise their State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) scores in English using NoRedInk. Wylie ISD is home to 20 schools and 17,000+ students, of whom 25% are economically disadvantaged, 11% categorized as limited English proficient (LEP), and 10% struggling with disabilities. Students in Wylie ISD also enter high school with a dramatic range of writing abilities and teachers struggled to differentiate instruction for that wide range of needs, as the information provided through textbooks and teacher-created resources were often deemed insufficient. Compounding matters, teachers had trouble providing rapid writing feedback to multiple students at once.

In 2020, Wylie ISD found that adopting NoRedInk led to marked gains for economically disadvantaged students, with the number of students achieving “Masters Grade Level” more than doubling in just one year from 5.38% to 12.71%. Limited English Proficient (LEP) students who reached “Approaches Grade Level” increased by more than 50% in the first year of NoRedInk use, increasing from 26.76% to 40.59%. Students with disabilities who achieved “Approaches Grade Level” increased by 20%, increasing from 29.59% to 35.54%, and students with disabilities who achieved “Masters Grade Level” rose 20% from 16.33% to 19.83% in just one year.

Students’ writing skills grew exponentially,
and the students who saw the most improvement were students with disabilities.

Ashley Loyd, ELAR Teacher, Wylie East High School

Empowering language learners for the jobs of the future.

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Katie Nielson
Founder & Chief Education Officer
Gregg Levin
CEO
87%+
of learners improve English language proficiency
75%
of learners in 2020 reported having achieved their real-world learning goals
94
Partnerships with employers, workforce development, and higher education institutions
Fund RTE I
City
Bethesda, MD
Year Founded 2019
Type of Evidence
Company-generated learner data
Fund
RTE II
City
San Francisco, CA
Year Founded
2015
Type of Evidence
Company-provided case study
THE PROBLEM

There are more than 45 million immigrants and refugees living in the U.S., representing 13.7% of the nation’s population. However, 47% of immigrants are not proficient English speakers and nearly 26 million people in the U.S. reported speaking English “less than very well.” Furthermore, working-age Limited English Proficient (LEP) adults earn 25% to 40% less than their English proficient counterparts. Yet, English learning in the U.S. is broken and inaccessible—just 4% of adult English language learners in the U.S. have access to ESL instruction. English is a critical enabling skill for integration and opportunity, and removing barriers to English learning is crucial in helping new Americans become well-adjusted, confident members of society while lessening their economic vulnerability and improving their career prospects.

THE COMPANY

Voxy EnGen aims to empower immigrants, refugees, and speakers of other languages by creating learning that is linked to career pathways. Their career-focused and tech-driven English language training and upskilling platform serves learners in workplaces, workforce development and adult education institutions, higher education, and incarcerated education programs. They bring valuable workforce readiness skills to some of the most underserved communities, while providing economic mobility, civic participation, and a better quality of life for language learners.

THE IMPACT

Voxy EnGen’s career- and skill-aligned pathways feature granular multimedia content and interactive lessons that are reflective of the type of English spoken in specific, real-world career settings and are designed to improve literacy in practical situations. Voxy EnGen’s “Healthcare” pathway, for example, uses authentic examples of interactions with nurses and doctors in teaching about common illnesses and conditions. Students also learn language skills that enable them to carry out such workplace-related tasks as reading a safety training manual, engaging in phone calls and meetings, or understanding the often-elusive employee benefits language.

In order to foster a strong connection between English language acquisition and specific career pathways, Voxy EnGen has deliberately created a number of “Integrated Education and Training” programs designed to leverage English language as a means to help learners obtain better-paying jobs and upward economic momentum. Voxy EnGen was able to support advancement for learners with the following results:

Learners at an employer kick-off receiving onboarding instructions and an introduction to the Voxy EnGen platform before and after their shifts. After this introduction, all instruction was self-paced and organized around the learners’ schedules.

Helping people live happy and productive lives as they age.

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Neil Dsouza
Co-Founder & CEO

Neil started his career as a software engineer at Cisco and later founded Mumbai-based Zaya Learning Labs, which he ran for seven years. Zaya sells low-cost software to schools in India and aims to provide world-class education for underprivileged children around the world.

Q&A with Neil Dsouza

Co-Founder & CEO
Fund
RTE III
City
San Francisco, CA
Year Founded
2019

Neil started his career as a software engineer at Cisco and later founded Mumbai-based Zaya Learning Labs, which he ran for seven years. Zaya sells low-cost software to schools in India and aims to provide world-class education for underprivileged children around the world.

THE PROBLEM

One of the great tragedies of our time is the widespread, poor treatment of older adults. With too few social safety nets in place for people to age with dignity, those who are perceived to have little value to contribute to today’s workforce are wrongly stigmatized as being a burden, and they run the risk of becoming isolated. The World Health Organization writes that “A society is measured by how it cares for its elderly citizens,” and in too many places, society is failing to live up to a high standard of care. For many people age 55 and older, the problem is not one of limited physical or mental function, but one of relevance and connection to society. By 2035, senior citizens are set to outnumber children in America. In order to support our increasingly disconnected and aging population, we need new ways of empowering older adults to connect, learn, and contribute to their communities.

Fund
RTE II
City
San Francisco, CA
Year Founded
2015
Type of Evidence
Company-provided case study

One of things we’re very proud of is helping seniors get COVID-19 vaccines. In January and February of 2021 the whole country was talking about seniors not having the digital skills to book appointments and find vaccine information. We stepped up and within two days we had classes running in all 50 states where we were teaching people the skills needed to go book their appointments.

Neil D’Souza, CEO, GetSetUp
How did the idea for GetSetUp come about?

ND: Most of my friends and many of the people I cared about were 20-30 years older than me and were entering an age group that is often told they’re not needed. That really bothered me. These people had so much skill and knowledge and were real rock stars, but people were always trying to treat them like they were done. That was my “Aha” moment. I wanted to build a place where we can tap into the wisdom and knowledge of people who have lived for longer than we have, while helping them understand their own relevance, and then do that in a way that is both scalable and solving real-world problems. My background was in edtech, so I realized that we could tap into the demographic of retired teachers to help educate our learner base. Because you can’t just teach by video; there’s magic in helping and learning from peers in a place where there’s no judgment, lots of empathy and the patience you might not get from a Millennial teacher, for example.

THE COMPANY

GetSetUp is an online social educational platform that is currently used by 1.2 million people ages 55+ around the world, and that aspires to help people live happy and productive lives as they age. The company hires retired educators, among others, to teach online classes to groups of older adults on subjects such as coding, starting a business on Shopify, using WhatsApp, understanding and using their Medicare plan, cooking, mental wellness and physical fitness, and much more. Students who log many hours on the platform are encouraged to become teachers themselves. GetSetUp promotes user-to-user socializing and learning, as learners connect and share with each other in small, intimate group settings.

How do you measure impact?

ND: We measure our impact in four different areas that are part of our hypothesis about social change. First is improving confidence in older adults so they can age independently. We measure that by surveying user confidence in the subject matter. If you feel confident, that changes your self-perception and also improves your determinants of health. With that, we also look at whether our users feel more independent. Secondly, we measure the socialization aspect. How many people are forming connections with each other and making friends after or while taking a class? Are they forming sub-groups together based on shared interests? Stronger social connections can help alleviate mental health issues. Next, we look at the economic opportunity we’re affording people. How many users end up becoming guides [teachers]? In GetSetUp, first you become a learner, then an ambassador, and then you can become a guide making $25 an hour. We look at how many people have made that transition. We gave out more than $1 million in salaries last year, and 80% of our instructors are part-time and make $2,000-$3,000 a month. In addition, if they can learn how to use LinkedIn and the skills needed to go get a job after the pandemic, or earn money through their newly learned skills, we’re helping them tap into an economic opportunity.

Also, there are less concrete measures of success that are equally important. In India, for example, GetSetUp is spreading like wildfire. We see people there taking 10 classes a week, and it’s being used as a real empowerment tool for women. Many women of a certain generation had to give up their careers to care for children, and when you think of the opportunities they missed, you can see now that they’re discovering things like financial planning, history, and travel for the first time. This is a trend across APAC for GetSetUp and we’re excited about how this platform can support women in particular.

Empowering higher education institutions to increase access & quality of online education while lowering cost to students.

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Keri Hoyt
President & COO

Q&A with Keri Hoyt

Keri Hoyt's decades-long career has included tenure at such organizations as the Princeton Review, where she improved the marketing and admissions process and helped to build online programming; and Success Academics, where she ran 34 high-performing schools in New York City before joining Noodle.

President & COO
Fund
RTE II
City
New York, NY
Year Founded
2013

Keri Hoyt’s decades-long career has included tenure at such organizations as the Princeton Review, where she improved the marketing and admissions process and helped to build online programming; and Success Academics, where she ran 34 high-performing schools in New York City before joining Noodle.

THE PROBLEM

Higher education, long seen as a necessity for obtaining gainful employment, is facing a crisis. Many now believe its cost exceeds its value, and that is true of both in-person and online programs. More than one in three college graduates with student debt say that college was not “worth it”, with a good deal of graduates forced to delay or forgo major life milestones due to financial hardship. Many students in particular, as highlighted during the pandemic, feel that the online student experience is far too expensive. Yet it is still true that a college degree–whether earned online or in-person–significantly improves a person’s chances of employability, with college graduates earning on average $1 million more than those holding only a high school degree over their lifetime. Those with a master’s degree or higher will earn significantly more.

Fund
RTE II
City
San Francisco, CA
Year Founded
2015
Type of Evidence
Company-provided case study

The only other way to reduce tuition is to expand your enrollment, maintain the excellence in the expanded enrollment, and use that tuition access to bring the sticker price down. That’s what we’re doing. We’ve already reduced our tuition cost by 30% [with Noodle].

Anthony Delitto, Dean of the School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
The stated differentiator for Noodle is to drive down the cost of online education for students. Can you elaborate on the model?

KH: Driving down the cost is what we lead with, and that’s because we want to make education more affordable for students. The way traditional OPMs have done it is through revenue-sharing models. They put up the initial capital to launch a program. The OPM takes on that risk and in lieu they take a revenue share over a long contract between the OPM and the university. That model once made sense when online learning was very speculative and the tech wasn’t where it needed to be and everyone had to convince universities that you could, in fact, have a good online experience. Now the question isn’t if but when a student will take an online program. Pre-COVID, close to 34% of graduate students were getting 100% of their program online. Post-COVID it’ll likely be north of 50%, if not more. The online market is growing.

Noodle drives down costs using a different structure. We partner under a fee-for-service model, using a flat fee. Universities pay for the services they want and we drive down the cost by tapping into our network. We partner with a provider on behalf of 20 universities as opposed to one. We pass those savings onto the university and, given our university partners are not-for-profit, ultimately its students. We manage online programs and do it by deploying a portfolio of services that we can offer at a lower rate than universities are able to because of our economies of scale.

THE COMPANY

Noodle is empowering higher education institutions to increase access and quality of online education while lowering cost to students. The company has reimagined the OPM through an agile, resource-sharing model that results in lower tuition and a higher-quality online student experience. They have built a network of providers and dozens of institutions that enables them to create and deliver online and hybrid programs to students that are affordable and in-step with institutional values, without sacrificing quality of the learning experience. In this model, Noodle manages the bulk of their partners’ online program components, including learning design, marketing, recruiting, academic work and performance, and student support. By partnering with a wide array of schools and tapping into shared resources, technology and best practices, Noodle is able to optimize the online learning experience down to the specific needs of institutions.

Why did you come to Noodle?

KH: I’ve worked exclusively—for my entire career—in education. Prior to joining Noodle, I worked for Success Academies, a charter network organization based in New York City. We started K-12 schools with the premise that we could run high-performing urban school districts. When I joined, we were four schools and our goal was to grow to 40 while retaining results. I did that, but then realized we were about to graduate thousands of students who are phenomenal, but honestly wouldn’t be able to afford higher education. It was a moment of truth where you’re doing everything to turn around the K-12 school system only to bring them into higher education where they’ll take on debt. So after seven years there I wanted to drive down the cost of higher education. I bumped into John Katzman (Founder of Noodle) and he mentioned that he also had similar goals. He asked me to help run a new company he was starting. It was kismet.

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2020

REPORT

Published June 2021

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2020

REPORT

Published June 2021

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