Looking to roll up more technologies into its portfolio, higher education software provider Civitas Learning received a commitment of up to $60 million to consolidate its position in the field of higher learning.
The Austin-based company started its development with six public schools in 2011 and has since grown to manage a several different areas for a number of vocational and state schools.
According to the company, the idea is to use data science to encourage retention, student engagement, and after school success among colleges across the country.
Initially backed by investors including Austin Ventures, Emergence Capital Partners, and Felicis Ventures, Warburg Pincus has come on to lead the latest round of funding, which brings the company’s total to $88.9 million.
According to chief executive, Charles Thornburgh, the core addressable market for student retention, which is Civitas Learning’s primary focus is $1 billion globally.
“Approximately $100 million in tuition and fees (in the U.S.) are spent each year on students who will not graduate,” wrote Thornburgh in an email. “We believe there is an opportunity to improve that number by 5-10%, which is a multi-billion dollar opportunity.”
The goal of a program like Civitas’ is retention and graduation, which can mean different things at different schools.
“The company focuses on public institutions because the scale of public institutions combined with an increased focus on student success in funding formulas is compelling many public institutions to lead in this work,” says Thornburgh.
Currently, there are no companies that provide the same level of detail and ubiquitous oversight into the college market as Civitas Learning. The company is relatively omnipresent among a certain caliber of schools in the southeast.
The company doesn’t sell the data to third parties. It uses the data to provide school-specific machine learning and front-end applications that let students network, teachers engage, and parents monitor with or in just about everything going on in a classroom.
Currently, Civitas Learning sees a whole host of point solutions as competitors, like Starfish, or Blackboard and Ellucian. Thornburgh envisions his company as the first to incorporate machine learning and analytics as the backbone of his curriculum,” says Thornburgh.
Thornburgh vies the decision to blow out fundraising now as a logical step and not just an exigency.
“More students need higher levels of education to be able to get good jobs and participate in the civic life in a more complicated and connected world—65% of emerging jobs require a postsecondary credential (Georgetown Study on Economy and the Workforce),”says Thornburgh.
“However, more and more students are first generation or returning students, who are the least likely to successfully navigate our education system,” he says. “Our institutions are no longer focusing on simply increasing access, but increasingly focusing on and being funded by formulas that are based on enrollment and completion – which is not surprising given that state funds are tight. And, lastly, our economy needs more students with degrees to keep the economy humming.”