SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Altius Education, Inc., a San Francisco-based provider of online higher education, today announced that it has closed an $18.6 million Series B funding round led by Charles River Ventures (CRV). CRV joins Maveron and Spark Capital in supporting Altius' innovative approach to meeting some of the nation's most pressing higher education and workforce training needs.
In 2007, Altius launched Ivy Bridge College, a joint venture with Tiffin University, to address the growing gap in post-secondary education – increasing numbers of non-traditional students seeking a pathway to a traditional four-year degree. Today, Ivy Bridge offers 1,500 learners a two-year online associate's degree and seamless admittance into bachelor's degree programs through articulation agreements with more than 65 four-year universities.
"Despite fluctuations in the market, and an uncertain regulatory environment facing the for-profit, online higher education sector, we were eager to invest in Altius because of the company's objective success to-date," said Saar Gur, partner at CRV. "Altius Education CEO Paul Freedman and his team have built a strong business model that is attracting the attention of traditional higher education institutions due to the importance of the market it is serving, and its high persistence and graduation rates."
Ivy Bridge's student success-focused model has emerged at a time when both the federal government and individual students are increasingly focused on student outcomes. Retention and graduation rates are more than double the industry average, driven by the unparalleled student mentoring and support that Ivy Bridge provides to its students. From application to graduation, each student is assigned a success coach to guide them academically and professionally to reach their individual goals.
Recently, Altius extended Ivy Bridge College's reach by partnering with Tiffin University in Ohio, City University in Seattle, and Concordia University in Chicago to create co-branded four-year programs for students. Altius intends to establish local partners in every state through a network it calls The Altius University System.
"CRV is an ideal financial partner to help us expand the Altius University System," said Altius CEO Paul Freedman. "With expertise in growing early-stage companies, Saar Gur and the Charles River team will provide invaluable insight and offers us a tremendous competitive advantage."
"Altius is proving to be an innovator in designing and building quality online programs that are democratizing access to post-secondary education. We were eager to continue supporting Altius' growth," continued Maveron partner Amy Errett.
"We are extremely proud of our investment in Altius Education," added Spark Capital partner Alex Finkelstein. "It's impressive when a company can provide such explosive growth while simultaneously providing a great social value. It is clear that Altius is doing just that."
In 2009, Altius Education closed Series A funding with $8 million, co-led by Maveron and Spark Capital. Altius will use the new capital to continue the growth of its programs and expand the number of partnerships in its network.
About Altius Education
Altius Education, Inc., partners with traditional universities to create an ecosystem designed to expand access to the traditional high-education. The heart of Altius' portfolio is Ivy Bridge College, a joint venture with Tiffin University, offering online associate's degree programs with direct access to more than 65 accredited four-year institutions. Altius has also partnered with a network of regional universities to create co-branded, four-year programs. For more information, visit www.altiused.com.
About Charles River Ventures
Founded in 1970, Charles River Ventures is one of the nation's oldest and most successful early-stage venture capital firms with approximately $2.1 billion under management. CRV is dedicated to helping exceptional entrepreneurs turn their ideas into the next category leaders in high growth technology and media sectors. Over the past 10 years, CRV funds have been ranked among the industry's top performers. CRV has offices in Boston, MA and Menlo Park, CA. For more information, visit www.crv.com.
Maveron is a leading venture capital firm founded by Dan Levitan and Howard Schultz. Maveron's mission is to partner with entrepreneurs in the creation of extraordinary consumer-based companies in order to generate outstanding financial returns. Current representative Maveron investments include fast-growing consumer companies, such as Potbelly Sandwich Works, Pinkberry and Livemocha, Allconnect and zulily. Monetized investments include eBay, Capella Education Company, Shutterfly, Cranium (acquired by Hasbro), Qsent (acquired by TransUnion), Good Technology (acquired by Motorola) and lucy activewear (acquired by VF Corporation). Based in Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco, Maveron has approximately $750 million under management and 23 active portfolio companies nationwide. For more information, visit www.maveron.com.
About Spark Capital
Spark Capital is a venture capital firm based in Boston, Massachusetts, with investments focused on the conflux of the media, entertainment and technology industries. Over the last decade, the Spark team has been instrumental in the development of new markets and market leaders such as Akamai Technologies, Qtera, Aether Systems, Novatel Wireless, Twitter, 5Min, Altius Education, AdMeld, Verivue and Tumblr. With deep experience and $980 million under management, Spark Capital provides world-class entrepreneurs and revolutionary companies with the resources to succeed in today's marketplace. For more information, visit www.sparkcapital.com.
SOURCE Altius Education, Inc.