Great EdTech Success Story Turns Into The Biggest Philanthropic Story of the Year

Curriculum Associates may be the most important EdTech success story you don’t know about.

For starters, it’s headquartered in North Billerica, Massachusetts–not in Silicon Valley. The former workbook publisher never took venture capital, instead bootstrapping an adaptive learning business from scratch. In four years, the company grew into a $190 million blended learning giant with its i-Ready program, which now serves over 4.5 million students.

Curriculum Associates extended its impact exponentially through this program, while traditional publishers shrank each year. i-Ready was built and is consistently updated to address the rigor of new standards, and collects a broad spectrum of rich data to help students and teachers identify areas of struggle, measure growth across a student’s career, support differentiated teacher-led instruction and personalize learning.

In addition to a focus on student learning, Curriculum Associates was scaled with the intent to benefit nonprofit beneficiaries. In January, the founder donated the majority of the company’s stock to the Iowa State University (ISU) Foundation, with a portion also going to the Boston Foundation to benefit charities in the Greater Boston area.

Yesterday, the Iowa State Foundation agreed to sell the stock to Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based investment firm, resulting in a permanent endowment of approximately $145 million that will generate more than $5 million annually to support the ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  

“The new endowment will more than triple the amount of scholarship dollars awarded by the college, boost our ability to provide Iowa State students with the opportunity to learn from superb faculty and accelerate innovation in teaching and research,” Beate Schmittmann, dean of the college.

The Boston Foundation received a $50 million donation (the largest ever in their 102-year history) as a result of the transaction. Most of the funds will go to the foundation’s $300 million Permanent Fund. The balance will go to individual nonprofits through grants from the foundation and a donor-advised fund.

Curriculum Associates CEO Rob Waldron said he was proud of the progress the company has made to date, happy with the new ownership structure, and pleased that the value created by the company would benefit so many students and Boston citizens.

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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