“Our development is driven not only by new academic standards and assessments, but also by global crises stemming from a lack of equitable access to high-quality educational resources,” Murphy said. “Everyone deserves the right to learn, think critically, and express their point of view effectively. This funding will allow ThinkCERCA to more effectively promote critical thinking at scale in school districts across the country and across the globe.”
Since securing the Series B funding, ThinkCERCA has already developed a ground-breaking, interactive lesson type designed to prepare students for the 21st century. Over the next 12 to 18 months, the company will implement a product-led growth strategy to accelerate its impact. This plan entails launching 7,000 new lessons to provide students with discrete instruction and practice in critical literacy skills, such as supporting arguments with evidence across subjects. These new lessons, like the rest of ThinkCERCA’s curriculum, will be differentiated for grades 3 through 12. ThinkCERCA will also be looking to expand its differentiation offerings to meet the needs of more learners, including adults, thanks to extensive teacher demand.
Along with the platform updates, Murphy and Abby Ross, co-founder and Chief of Partnerships, emphasized the increased impact ThinkCERCA will be able to have on student outcomes by helping more districts and schools implement personalized literacy at scale. The company has already had success with district-wide implementations at Fayette County Schools in Georgia, Farmington Municipal Schools in New Mexico, and Vancouver School District in Washington. Additionally, the ThinkCERCA platform is being used with fidelity across major school systems such as Chicago Public Schools, the New York Department of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, the Syracuse City School District, and more.
Among the new investors who lead the Series B round are Scott Cook and Signe Ostby, founders of the Valhalla Charitable Foundation. Cook is the founder of Intuit—the leader in financial, accounting, and tax preparation software for individuals and small businesses.
“ThinkCERCA has among the strongest impact of ed-tech products that we have seen in the K-12 market. Multiple third-party evaluations have consistently shown that it significantly improves student learning, especially in the areas that matter for success in life—critical thinking and effective writing,” Cook said. “An investment in ThinkCERCA is an investment in the future success of kids.”
A number of prominent hedge fund managers and investors from the tech, education, and corporate sectors also joined, including TAL Education Group, the world’s largest education company; Jeff Weiner (CEO) and Mike Gamson (SVP) of LinkedIn; Chuck Templeton, the founder of OpenTable; Deborah Quazzo, the founder and managing partner of GSV Acceleration; Sam Yagan, the founder of OkCupid and former Match CEO; Follett Knowledge Fund; and Plum Alley Investments, a syndicate dedicated to investing in women-led companies.
“ThinkCERCA is a solid company transforming education for the broad population. Three outside studies have validated that their method of teaching math, science, and language with critical thinking and argumentative writing has been highly effective with both students and teachers,” said Deborah Jackson, founder and CEO of Plum Alley. “The company leverages its leadership team’s deep experience in the classroom and technology. Now as an investor in ThinkCERCA, Plum Alley and our members will assist the company with our relationship and social capital to help it grow on a massive scale.”
Also as part of the Series B raise, joining the ThinkCERCA board will be Tom Chi, a former Google X co-founder and world-renowned inventor.
ThinkCERCA’s personalized literacy platform helps educators teach critical thinking skills through argumentative writing. With students and teachers using its platform in all 50 states and 130 countries, the company has partnered with prominent leaders in education, including Follett Corporation, and has been featured by The Atlantic and EdSurge. In a recent controlled study of 26 ed-tech tools by LEAP Innovations, ThinkCERCA was proven to help students achieve two years of academic growth per year on average. A 2016 SIAA CODiE Awards finalist in the Best Learning Capacity-Building Solution and Best Reading/English/Language Arts Instructional Solution categories, ThinkCERCA has also been named one of the best tools in ed tech by Common Sense’s Graphite. In July 2013, ThinkCERCA was the recipient of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Literacy Courseware Challenge grant, and in December 2012, graduated from the inaugural class of Impact Engine’s social impact accelerator. To learn more, please visit www.ThinkCERCA.com.