Think Together | September 13, 2022
Think Together, one of California's largest nonprofits serving K-12 schools today announced it has completed the merger with Orenda Education, a top school improvement and professional development consultancy. Upon the close, the combined organization will serve more than 200,000 students across the state with more than $150 million in annual revenue. Moreover, the organization will be better positioned to rapidly scale their impact.
"We're thrilled to bring our two organizations together in our combined efforts to improve student success and close the achievement gap,This merger is the natural evolution of Orenda's existing relationship with Think Together and solidifies our joint commitment to ensuring that the more than 2 million California students that are performing far below grade level have the support they need during the school day and beyond to succeed academically."
Think Together Founder and CEO Randy Barth
Over the past seven years, Think Together and Orenda have had an affiliate agreement in place while the full acquisition builds the long-term financial and operational capacities for Orenda to continue to scale. Orenda's work focuses on transformingeducation systems, either across a school district or by cohorts of schools, providing professional development to all levels of district staff, around a specific data-driven but people-centric school improvement model. Think Together partners with over 60 school districts and charter management organizations to provide more than 900 direct-to-student academic and enrichment programs at more than 450 school sites across California, serving more than 100,000 youth. Orenda Education works behind-the-scenes with school district leaders and educators to identify inequities in schools and then transform their systems to ensure all students have access to a premium education. "Think Together has always been an incredible partner, infusing the infrastructure needed to provide an efficient model for changing the odds for kids," said Orenda Education Founder and CEO Dr. Robin Avelar La Salle. "Our two models have always complemented each other but now, we can efficiently scale our vision for all students to receive the premium education they deserve." The acquisition comes as both organizations experience tremendous growth due in large part to new and renewed state investments in education to accelerate learning recovery efforts and provide educators with needed support amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Now more than ever, teachers, school leaders and administrators need to think outside the box to address the issues impacting students including socio-economic biases, social emotional learning, and more," added Barth. "Providing these much-needed supports to educators means districts and schools can provide the skills they need to teach, lead and counsel during and following a period of great disruption during the pandemic. Recently the U.S. Department of Education reported a dramatic decline in scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) known as the nation's scorecard. Two decades of growth for American students in reading and math were wiped away by just two years of pandemic-disrupted learning, according to national test scores released last week. And, the declines were much larger for students at lower performance levels, widening already-huge learning disparities between the country's high- and low-achievers. Orenda's approach to school improvement has proven to accelerate student outcomes, such as mastery of grade-level standards (measured by math and English language SBAC scores), improved A-G class completion rates, and improved graduation rates. They also provide administrative coaching, teaching strategies, and leadership clinics. To expand these services, Orenda was recently awarded a $4 million Education Innovation and Research grant by the U.S. Department of Education to digitize and distribute their school improvement approach through an online platform that is effective and highly scalable to schools and districts in any geography, and to those who require less in-person support. Think Together adds Orenda to their growing list of services that support student education in and around the school day. Think Together's flagship afterschool programs support students in underserved communities with homework help, enrichment, social-emotional learning and physical well-being, all to enable students to strive for college or a fulfilling career. To provide high-quality programs, Think Together partners with philanthropic organizations like the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Breaking down the barriers to opportunity, equity and access in education by keeping students and their success as the centered focus is one of the most meaningful investments for our future generations" said Alyssa Santino, Program Director of the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Ensuring the educators, leaders and structures around students are supported and inspired and effectively trained with research-based, proven and engaging strategies is imperative for thriving students and communities. We are pleased to partner with Think Together and Orenda Education as they excel in this space and continue to transform the trajectory of students and the schools they attend." Barth sees the combination of direct services to students through expanded and early learning, coupled with equity-based professional development, as an effective combination to supporting student achievement alongside their school district and charter partners. Dr. Paul Gothold, Superintendent of County Office of Education in San Diego agrees. His former district, Lynwood Unified School District, realized astonishing improvements when partnering with both Think Together and Orenda, including increasing graduation rates from 56% to 90.8%, and A-G college eligible rates from 18% to 53%. Orenda provides the technical expertise for true district turn-around. The systems approach and professional development modules to build staff capacity ensures all leaders have the tools and resources to provide a premium education for all students, said Gothold. "With Think Together's financial and operational support, Orenda is well positioned to continue providing much-needed education innovation to schools throughout the state and beyond.
About Think Together
For over 25 years Think Together has partnered with schools and communities to pursue educational equity and excellence for all kids. As a nonprofit organization, Think Together innovates, implements, and scales academic solutions that change the odds for hundreds of thousands of California students. Think Together's program areas include early learning, afterschool, school support services and leadership development for teachers and school administrators.
CORPORATE EDUCATION AND TRAINING
EVERFI | September 17, 2022
Varo Bank, the first all-digital, nationally chartered U.S. consumer techbank, announced today the launch of SaveUp, a free middle school savings curriculum designed in strategic partnership with social impact education innovator, EVERFI. The SaveUp course is the largest initiative to date of the Varo Money Power program, which includes free online financial education lessons for adults and the Russ x Varo Money Power financial education workshops for high school students designed in partnership with NBA superstar Russell Westbrook.SaveUp empowers students by providing them with the tools they need to build a strong savings foundation and will be available to 4,500 middle schools nationwide by June 2024. The course is aligned with Jump$tart National Standards for Personal Finance Education and focuses on middle school students to provide them time to learn and practice savings habits before they start to deal with more pressing financial challenges in high school and beyond.
"Everyone deserves the same access to opportunity, and that starts with financial education,Through this joint initiative, Varo and EVERFI continue to advance our shared mission of expanding financial inclusion and helping young people learn the fundamentals of what it takes to build wealth for themselves and their communities. We plan to leverage this program content in the future to broaden the reach of financial education and literacy to a wider audience going forward."
Colin Walsh, Founder and CEO of Varo Bank
Throughout the course, students will learn the importance of saving, how to budget, how savings can help reach financial goals, and how to open a savings account. This will be accomplished through an interactive learning experience that includes:
Self-guided lessons to help students develop simple, actionable strategies.
Real-world scenarios that prime students for long-term behavioral change using problem-solving and self- reﬂection activities.
Detailed score reports and ofﬂine extension activities to help teachers maximize their impact across all students.
Middle school is a time of financial socialization for students as they start to develop their own values and beliefs around money," said Ray Martinez, Co-Founder and President of EVERFI. "Developing the SaveUp curriculum and bringing it to middle schools around the country, is just part of our commitment to help students, especially those in low-to-moderate income populations, build the knowledge and skills they need to achieve financial wellness and stability while providing equal access to the financial services system.
About Varo Bank, N.A.
Varo Bank is the first all-digital, nationally chartered U.S. consumer techbank built from the ground up, designed to make financial inclusion and opportunity a reality for all. Varo Bank is reimagining the modern banking experience and providing customers with the tools they need to build financial resilience and realize their financial power – with offerings such as Varo Believe, a secured card to help build credit, Varo Advance to help stretch hard-earned dollars between paychecks, the ability to earn cashback at 1,000 merchant locations nationwide, and a newly launched high yield savings account option, more than 38x the national average. A different kind of financial institution – Varo Bank serves everyone striving to build a better future – from those with abundance to people struggling to make ends meet. Varo has been named one of Forbes' World's Best Banks in 2022, Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies, and is on the Inc 5000 list of fastest growing companies for 2022. For more information on Varo Advance, Varo Believe, and other offerings such as Perks, visit www.varomoney.com, like Varo Bank on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @varobank. @2022 Varo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.
About EVERFI, Inc.
EVERFI from Blackbaud is an international technology company driving social impact through education to address the most challenging issues affecting society ranging from financial wellness to mental health to workplace conduct and other critical topics. Founded in 2008, EVERFI's Impact-as-a-Service™ solution and digital educational content have reached more than 45 million learners globally. In 2020, the company was recognized as one of the World's Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company and was featured on Fortune Magazine's Impact 20 List. The company was also named to the 2021 GSV EdTech 150, a list of the most transformative growth companies in digital learning. Blackbaud, the world's leading cloud software company powering social good, acquired EVERFI in December of 2021.
CORPORATE LEARNING SYSTEMS
WorkRamp | September 29, 2022
WorkRamp, the All-in-One Learning Platform, today announced the release of WorkRamp Content, powered by one of the world's largest corporate education content hubs, Go1. WorkRamp Content is one of the most comprehensive content solutions for organizations that are invested in developing their people to unlock exponential growth.With this product, relevant industry- and role-based content can be curated to complement the organization's learning strategy, and businesses can leverage the power of prebuilt, proven content to build impactful programs that attract, develop, and retain talent and mitigate corporate risk by maintaining compliance.
"Businesses need their workforces to be highly skilled if they are to stay competitive in today's market, and that means learning cannot stop,Those that really invest in making learning a growth engine for their organizations recognize that effective content is fundamental to this strategy. Now they can find not only flexible content creation and collaboration within WorkRamp's platform but also the most relevant expertise to uplevel their people."
Ted Blosser, CEO and Co-Founder of WorkRamp
With over 85,000 course resources from more than 250 providers in one learning center of excellence, WorkRamp Content provides exactly what employees want, in whichever format, length, and style are effective for them. The catalog of resources from the world's top providers such as EasyLlama, ej4, The Expert Academy, Mind Tools, Pluralsight, Sandler Training, Skillsoft, and Traliant empowers learning administrators to upskill their teams for more meaningful business contributions. They also have access to complimentary content recommendations and curation in partnership with Go1's team. Customers should expect learner engagement to increase sixfold once they leverage the ability to quickly provide employees with meaningful content within their learning platform. Businesses want their learners to be able to develop and apply their skills in the flow of work and in systems they recognize. Those that invest in WorkRamp to support their development strategy and growth can now really achieve this most effective approach to learning by accessing Go1's vast training and content libraries, said Marc Havercroft, President of Go1. With WorkRamp Content, customers are now able to draw on all levels of instructional design capability and better align their learning content strategy with an overall learning strategy. The All-in-One Learning Platform provides course authoring tools out of the box for building content just the way the business wants it, customizable course templates to set teams up with solid starting points, and now prebuilt, proven content that can be rapidly deployed for immediate business impact.