09 Jul PRESS RELEASE: Cell-Ed raises $1.5 million seed round led by Lumina Impact Ventures
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Cell-Ed raises $1.5 million seed round led by Lumina Impact Ventures
PALO ALTO, Calif., July 9, 2018 Cell-Ed, a mobile learning solution for low-skilled workers, announced today that it has raised a $1.5 million seed round led by Lumina Impact Ventures, the impact investing arm of Lumina Foundation. Strada Education Innovation Fund, Partners Group Impact (Verein), and Twilio.org Impact Fund also participated in the financing.
Launched in 2014, Cell-Ed is a women-led company focused on serving the massive market of 100 million U.S. adults and 2 billion worldwide who cannot read above a sixth-grade level. The company has expanded to offer lessons in language, job and digital literacy skills over any mobile device.
Cell-Ed is mobile-first because 89% of time-strapped adults cannot make it to attend classes in person. By providing lessons over voice and SMS on devices ranging from basic flip phones to data-powered smartphones, Cell-Ed can serve millions of low-skilled, on-the-go adults who are eager to learn.
A lack of consistent internet access and digital literacy significantly hamper today’s online training and app-only offerings for this underrepresented, and often misunderstood, population. To date, millions of messages have been exchanged between Cell-Ed and learners, who access the platform through employers and education providers, and gain skills 84% faster than if in a classroom.
“Lumina Impact Ventures invested in Cell-Ed because the foundation believes their platform will bring the country closer to the goal that drives our work — increasing the proportion of working-age Americans with college degrees, certificates, and other high-quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “Adults are more rapidly building their skills and earning credentials through Cell-Ed’s platform. This opens them up to new employment opportunities and further education. We look forward to supporting the company’s next phase as it builds its customer and revenue bases to create even greater benefit for individuals, society, and the economy.”
“I’m impressed by Lumina Impact Ventures’ profound sense of urgency around helping millions of Americans earn credentials beyond a high school diploma,” said Jessica Rothenberg-Aalami, CEO and founder of Cell-Ed. “We both share an unceasing commitment to reaching and teaching workers who have been more underserved than upskilled, so they can secure better opportunities. I feel incredibly fortunate that Lumina, with its deep networks and strong brand, will be supporting Cell-Ed as we continue to scale.”
Funding will be used to increase Cell-Ed’s workforce-related content and credentialing pathways, as well as to enhance advanced mobile technology and provide even greater learner personalization and reach.
Cell-Ed recently solidified its reach last month when it was named one of five finalists in the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation. This allows Cell-Ed to continue serving the competition’s 12,000 low-literate adult participants in Los Angeles, Dallas and Philadelphia. The winner will be announced in early 2019.
Cell-Ed offers a complete mobile solution for employers and education providers to reach, retain and upskill millions of low-skilled, low-literate, low-wage workers worldwide on any mobile device – from smartphones to tablets to computers to even flip phones – with no internet connection or data plan needed. Our personalized and scalable platform, real-world courses and customizable content are used by Discovery, AT&T, the States of New York and Texas, SEIU, the Los Angeles Public Library and others. Their learners experience 84% faster skills gains with Cell-Ed. A social enterprise based in Palo Alto, California, we are the Employment Technology Fund‘s (ETF) first investment. ETF is an impact investment fund capitalized by ECMC Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Walmart Foundation.
About Lumina Impact Ventures
Lumina Impact Ventures leverages investment capital to accelerate development of promising solutions that can help more people benefit from education and training beyond high school. Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis operates this impact investing arm as part of its national commitment to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. The foundation envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. The foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.
About Strada Education Network
Strada Education Network is a national nonprofit dedicated to improving lives by catalyzing more direct and promising pathways between education and employment. We engage partners across education, nonprofits, business and government to focus relentlessly on students’ success throughout all phases of their working lives. Together, we address critical college to career challenges through strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and mission-aligned affiliates — all focused on advancing the universal right to realized potential we call Completion With a Purpose®. Learn more at StradaEducation.org.
About Partners Group Impact (Verein)
Partners Group Impact (Verein) is the employee foundation of global private markets investment manager Partners Group. Founded in 2006 and funded by employee donations, it aims to support entrepreneurial projects and organizations that create measurable, lasting, positive social impact. Since inception, the foundation has invested in 50+ grants and impact investments to social enterprises addressing issues including, but not limited to, hunger, education, and healthcare.
About Twilio.org Impact Fund
Twilio.org is the social impact arm of Twilio. Our mission at Twilio.org is to fuel communications that give hope, power, and freedom. We connect social impact organizations, passionate software developers, and the full power of the Twilio platform to ignite positive change on a local to global scale. Through the Impact Fund, we provide grants and investments to help organizations build and scale solutions that make it easier, faster, and more affordable to connect with the people they serve.