K-12 Dealmaking: Savvas Learning Acquires Outlier.org; Bain Double Impact Invests in Branching Minds

Staff Writer
K-12 dealmaking

Savvas Learning, the curriculum and assessment provider previously known as Pearson K-12 Learning, has acquired Outlier.org, a company that offers online dual-credit courses for high school students.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

New Jersey-based Savvas said the deal to acquire Outlier will allow Savvas to offer the high schools it serves additional options for providing dual-credit programs, as well as career and workforce training.

Brooklyn-based Outlier, which was founded in 2018 by MasterClass co-founder Aaron Rasmussen, provides asynchronous courses that fit within a 45-minute class period.

Savvas Learning predicts the deal will help schools find ways around impediments to dual-credit programs.

After taking the course, students can earn transferable college credits from Outlier’s partners, the University of Pittsburgh and Golden Gate University. It also offers the ability to earn professional certificates from companies including Google, Meta, and Salesforce.

Outlier raised more than $46 million in venture capital funding, including a $30 million Series B led by GV, formerly known as Google Ventures, in April 2021. Other backers include GSV Ventures, Unusual Ventures, Harrison Metal, Gaingels, Tectonic Capital, and Jackson Square Ventures

In a statement, Savvas CEO Bethlam Forsa said Outlier helps address issues schools may face when trying to offer dual-credit programs, including logistical and transportation challenges.

“With Outlier, we are seeking to change that,” Forsa said. “This acquisition will allow us to create an exciting new opportunity for the millions of high school students served by Savvas.”

Rasumussen said in a statement that the company is “excited to join Savvas” and to bring its classes to a greater number of students.

Bain Capital invests in Branching Minds. Branching Minds, a company that offers a multitiered systems of support platform, said Bain Capital’s Double Impact fund has made a growth investment in the company.

While financial terms were not released, Bain Capital Double Impact focuses on making equity investments of $20 million to $80 million in mission-driven organizations, according to its website.

Branching Minds’ co-founder and CEO Maya Gat and co-founder and Chief Operations Officer David Magier will continue in their roles leading the company, it said.

Branching Minds, founded in 2013, offers districts a platform to implement and streamline multi-tiered systems of supports. It aims to use data and collaboration tools to help educators identify students’ learning needs, offer intervention support, and track progress. The company reports it is used by more than 250 districts in the U.S.

The partnership from a mission-driven investor like Bain Capital Double Impact is “a huge vote of confidence” in the platform as it enters a “new phase of growth,” Gat said in a statement. “We’re deeply excited about what this means for the future of Branching Minds and the schools, teachers, and students we serve.”

Iain Ware, a partner at Bain Capital Double Impact, said in a statement that Branching Minds has a “strong track record and differentiated solutions” and that the investment will be used to expand its reach to more districts.

“Educators across the country place significant trust in Branching Minds as the leading innovator of MTSS solutions because it goes beyond data analytics to serve as a co-pilot and central hub for student interventions,” Ware said.

Incident IQ Announces Strategic Investment. Boston-based private equity firm Cove Hill Partners made a strategic investment in Incident IQ, a workflow management platform for K-12 districts.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Incident IQ said current backer JMI Equity and company founders and management will retain stakes in the company.

CEO R.T. Collins will continue to lead Atlanta-based Incident IQ, along with the existing management team.

The deal is expected to close within the first quarter of 2024.

The influx of capital will allow Incident IQ to further develop its product roadmap and expand its presence in the market, the company said.

Incident IQ’s platform is used by districts to manage IT, facilities, human resources, and other operational workflows. It reports serving more than 1,500 districts in the U.S.

“This new partnership represents a tremendous opportunity to grow our impact in the districts we currently serve and expand to new opportunities that can benefit from workflow transformation,” Collins said in a statement.

JMI Equity — which has offices in Baltimore, San Diego, and Washington D.C. — made an undisclosed strategic growth investment in Incident IQ in August 2021.

“The impressive growth that Incident IQ has experienced over the last few years is a testament to the value that they have delivered to the districts they serve, enabling teachers and students to spend more time teaching and learning,” Larry Contrella, JMI Equity general partner, said in a statement.

Dan May, co-founder and partner at Cove Hill, said the firm looks forward to supporting Incident IQ’s long-term growth and believes the investment “will support Incident IQ to deliver continued product innovation and exceptional service to districts across the country.”

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