CHICAGO (March 12, 2015) - Chicago-based ThinkCERCA and Follett Corporation today announced a strategic partnership to expand access to web-based academic reading and writing instruction for students everywhere. The announcement also marks the completion of ThinkCERCA's $3.2 million Series A round, led by the Follett Knowledge Fund, a $50 million capital funding source for new educational technologies established by Follett in 2013. Other investment partners include Math Venture Partners, Amicus Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital and Chuck Templeton.
ThinkCERCA's web-based software provides educators with a school-wide platform for enabling differentiated instruction for English, science and social studies. Students at all levels of readiness engage in reading, writing and critical thinking with their peers around real-world topics from the highest quality publications.
"At Follett, we are committed to expanding access to content and technologies in ways that help schools run, teachers teach and students learn," said Mary Lee Schneider, Follett's President and CEO. "Our partnership with ThinkCERCA is a natural extension of that commitment and will help drive success for students from their first day of school to college and beyond. With Follett's focus on improving reading, writing and vocabulary skills, and our vast library of engaging content that could truly support the ThinkCERCA model in an even more robust fashion, we believe the opportunities for educators are endless."
Follett serves over half the students in the United States and works with more than 70,000 schools to provide educational content of all types, technology and services. Through the partnership, more schools and districts will have the opportunity to access and implement ThinkCERCA to improve student outcomes through personalized education.
"We are passionate about supporting principals and teachers who work hard every day to ensure that all students can express their own powerful ideas," said Eileen Murphy Buckley, founder and CEO of ThinkCERCA. "As a teacher and a former district administrator, I saw the huge gap between available technology and what was required to teach these complex skills to all students in actual classroom practice. This investment, coupled with our strategic partnership with Follett, a trusted partner to so many schools, can help us scale our research-based approach to drive student outcomes, which is why we are so excited."
With this most recent investment, ThinkCERCA will begin adding new features to its platform to enhance efficacy and ease of use, including resources for district-level administrators. Currently, the company's subscription version is used by 215 schools and 50,000 students in 25 states, and its free version reaches 17,000 classrooms serving 115,000 students across all 50 states and 112 countries.
Designed by a team of leading educators and technology entrepreneurs, ThinkCERCA's approach is supported by decades of research that shows that achievement through cross-curricular reading, writing and debate leads to increased college and career readiness.
"Years of intense focus on reading and mathematics left a void in our students' ability to write coherent thoughts," said Troy Barnes, principal of C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School in Waldorf, Md. "In just 4 months of implementing ThinkCERCA, we have seen a dramatic increase in our students' ability to make a claim, provide text-based evidence, establish sound reasoning for their claim based on the evidence, and address the counter argument while focusing on the audience. Students are now developing their writing using the CERCA model on assignments outside of the program. Writing scores on county assessments have increased due to our implementation of this program."
For more information, visit ThinkCERCA.com and www.Follett.com.
ThinkCERCA is a school-wide online educational resource designed to prepare students for college and career by helping them build analytical reading and writing skills across subject matter. ThinkCERCA graduated from the inaugural class of the Impact Engine Accelerator in December 2012 and won the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Literacy Courseware Challenge in July 2013. To learn more, please visit www.ThinkCERCA.com.
For more than 140 years, Follett has been a trusted partner to pre-K and K-12 schools, districts, and college campuses, taking care of the critical details that make it easier for schools to run, teachers to teach and students to learn. Every day, Follett serves over half of the students in the United States, and works with 70,000 schools as a leading provider of education technology, services and print and digital content. Follett is higher education's largest campus retailer and a hub for school spirit and community, operating 940 local campus stores and 1,300 virtual stores across the continent. Headquartered in Westchester, Illinois, Follett is a $2.6-billion privately held company.
The Follett Knowledge Fund is a venture capital fund for new technologies with the potential to improve and even disrupt the way educational content is delivered and consumed. The fund is co-managed by Atrium Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that has been co-managing and advising strategic corporate venture programs for more than two decades.