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05/20/2015 | Announcement
Acelero Learning Receives $4 million Program-Related Investment from the Packard Foundation (PRNewswire)

Acelero Learning is a pioneering provider of early childhood education and family engagement services, all of which are focused on closing the achievement gap for thousands of Head Start children and families across the country.

NEW YORK, May 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Acelero Learning (an Ironwood Capital portfolio company) announced that it has received a $4 million Program-Related Investment loan from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “These funds from the Packard Foundation will allow us to complete the re-capitalization process we began last year, providing some liquidity to our initial investors, including Boston Community Capital and Ironwood Capital, while positioning the company to continue our rapid growth,” said Aaron Lieberman, co-founder of Acelero Learning and CEO of Shine Early Learning. “We continue to break new ground – demonstrating that a double bottom line company that produces break through child outcome gains for low-income children and families and can also produce a reasonable returns for investors. In this way, we are providing a desperately needed proof point for the emerging world of impact investing,” concluded Lieberman.

“The funds from the Packard Foundation are important to us on at least two levels,” said Henry Wilde, Acelero Learning’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer. “First and foremost, this is a major stamp of approval to have a mission-first, philanthropic investor like the Packard Foundation make this type of commitment to the company. Second, these funds will give the company the flexibility to continue to prioritize pursuit of our social impact goals. As a company, we believe that our first duty is to close the achievement gap for low-income children and families served by the Head Start program – and that financial success will follow from breakthrough child outcome gains.” The Packard Foundation joins Acelero Learning’s investor group which includes Ironwood Capital, Boston Community Capital, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, New Profit, NewSchools Venture Fund, and New Jersey Community Capital.

“As an impact-first investor, the return we seek is deep social impact that advances our grantmaking strategies. We are impressed by Acelero Learning’s outcome-focused approach to promoting quality early education and closing the achievement gap for children and families served by the Head Start program,” said Susan Phinney Silver, Program-Related Investment Manager for the Packard Foundation. “Through this loan we are thrilled to support the expansion of Acelero Learning’s promising early childhood education model and services within communities across the country.”

As part of the transaction, the board of Acelero Learning will expand to include two new members: Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, the President of the National Alliance for Hispanic Families and former Director of the Office of Head Start, and Georgia Levenson Keohane, the Director of the Program on Profits and Purpose at the New America Foundation. “I have long admired Acelero Learning and I am particularly excited to join the board to help the company spread their innovative practices which we know are so effective,” commented Sanchez Fuentes.

“We are exclusively focused on continuing to generate breakthrough child outcome gains at our own Acelero Learning Head Start programs, while rapidly growing our Shine Assist and Shine Implement efforts where we help others achieve breakthrough gains in their own Head Start programs,” concluded Doug Whiteman, Acelero Learning’s Chief Administrative Officer. “The strong support of the Packard Foundation and our current investor group will allow us to continue to make key investments in further closing the achievement gap, including the transformation of our Shine Insight data system into an enterprise system capable of revolutionizing the way that Head Start services reach hundreds of thousands of low-income children and families.”

About Acelero Learning:

Based in Harlem, Acelero Learning is a pioneering provider of early childhood education and family engagement services, all of which are focused on closing the achievement gap for thousands of Head Start children and families across the country. With over $50 million in revenue and unparalleled child outcomes, Acelero Learning is both one of the largest and most innovative companies operating in early care and education. Founded in 2001, Acelero Learning is a direct provider of Head Start services, serving 5,000 children and families in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

Shine Early Learning is a separate business unit formally launched in 2011 to disseminate Acelero Learning’s programmatic innovations to the larger early care and education community. Today, Shine Early Learning seeks to help local operators dramatically increase the impact of their Head Start programs through two separate services – Shine Assist and Shine Implement. Shine Assist is a training and technical assistance effort which partners with other Head Start providers to improve their programs through hands-on training, access to proprietary tools which have demonstrable impact on child outcomes, and the use of the Shine Insight data system. Shine Implement manages the delivery of Head Start services for a select group of partners through a suite of services including oversight of educational, family services, and program design activities, provision of proprietary tools, and use of the Shine Insight data system.

SOURCE Acelero Learning