Acelero Learning Wisconsin Rates Among Top 10% of Head Start Programs

Acelero Learning Wisconsin, which began providing Head Start services in 2013, was notified by the Office of Head Start that its Milwaukee program scored in the top 10% of Head Start programs nationwide in Instructional Support, a key indicator of quality education for young children.  This was determined by an independent team of reviewers from the Office of Head Start (at the US Department of Health and Human Services), who observed every classroom in Milwaukee, using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ (CLASS) tool.  Positive scores on Instruction Support in the CLASS have been shown by researchers to be directly correlated to positive child outcomes for children.  CLASS reviews are conducted by a team of classroom observers, employed by the Federal Government, on every Head Start program in the country.

Dr. Earnestine Willis, the founding Board Chair of Acelero Learning Wisconsin, recognized the importance of this result for Milwaukee's children.  "I sincerely appreciate the hard work and dedication that the staff and parents of Acelero Learning Wisconsin have done to culminate in these outstanding federal reviews.  These are critical contributions to our future as a community, championing early childhood development."

Please see the full press release here.

Acelero Learning Clark County Children's Day Kickoff

Today was the official kick-off for Children's Day and the celebration started in Las Vegas at Acelero Learning Clark County's Reach Out Center with Nevada's First Lady Kathleen Sandoval and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. Both expressed their passion and advocacy for children around the world and especially for the Head Start and Strong Start programs. This event was sponsored by the United Way Program and their campaign "Be a Champion for Children."

Acelero Learning Co-Founder & COO Henry Wilde to Become Next CEO

Co-Founder & CEO Aaron Lieberman to become Executive Chair of the Board; CAO Doug Whiteman to add the role of President

Acelero Learning announced today that Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Henry Wilde will become the organization’s next Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In the last two years, while Mr. Wilde served as COO, he led the organization through three successful federal reviews; generated year-over-year child outcome increases, including some of the largest gains ever recorded in a Head Start program; and launched the company’s new Shine Implement outsourced Head Start leadership division. Shine Implement has rapidly expanded and will serve over 1,700 young children in Early Head Start and Head Start programs in three different states this coming year. As CEO, he will report directly to the Board of Directors and will hold primary responsibility for strategic development, overall organizational execution, and all programmatic functions.

Current CEO and Co-Founder Aaron Lieberman will transition to the role of Acelero Learning’s Executive Chair of the Board as he relocates to his native Arizona with his wife and two young sons. Doug Whiteman will continue as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) while assuming greater responsibility for the organization’s external relations and day-to-day operations as President.

“Henry Wilde fully exemplifies our ideal leader for the company: passionate, compassionate, whip-smart, and, above all, intensely motivated by our mission to do good in the world,” said Mr. Lieberman. “He has not just risen to every challenge -- he has soared over them, and I know he will continue to do so.”

Aaron Lieberman and Henry Wilde co-founded Acelero Learning in 2001 with a vision to develop and manage the highest-quality Head Start programs nationwide. Since Acelero Learning’s inception, Mr. Wilde has served as Executive Director of two Acelero Learning delegate locations, as a member of the Board, and as COO. Previously, he was the first Deputy Secretary of the Department of Children and Families for the State of Wisconsin, where he oversaw the Head Start State Collaboration Office, the child care subsidy program, child care licensing, and the creation of Youngstar, the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). Mr. Wilde is a graduate of Harvard University, and began his career working as Special Assistant to Marian Wright Edelman at the Children's Defense Fund. He also earned an MBA focused on social enterprise from the Harvard Business School and is an Ascend Fellow and a Pahara Fellow at the Aspen Institute. As COO, Mr. Wilde has overseen all programmatic initiatives and direct Head Start services, as well as the Shine Implement and Shine Assist programs.

Since he joined Acelero Learning as CAO in January 2014, Doug Whiteman has been in charge of all support services including finance, legal, human resources, and compliance functions, as well as for reporting and governance issues. Previously, he served as chair of the Acelero Learning - Monmouth/Middlesex Board of Directors for seven years. In his new role as President and CAO, Mr. Whiteman will add direct oversight of partner recruitment. Prior to joining Acelero Learning, Mr. Whiteman had a 30-year career at Penguin Group Inc., including serving as VP of Sales and then as President of Penguin/Putnam Young Readers.  His work at Penguin culminated in serving as EVP of Operations for the entire company.

“I have known Doug for over 15 years, but the last 18 months of working side by side as he assumed the reigns of Chief Administrative Officer for the company have completely convinced me that he is the perfect person for the President role,” said Mr. Lieberman. “Doug has recruited an amazing senior team for our support services staff, has built a fantastic operating partnership with Henry, and has had a major impact on areas of our business that are outside of his considerable scope with his smarts, good judgment, and vast experience. I have also been so impressed by Doug’s willingness to put the company, and the children we serve, first in every decision he has made.”

As he prepares for this cross-country move, Mr. Lieberman will transition from his current role as CEO of Acelero Learning and Shine Early Learning into his new leadership position as Executive Chair of the Board. In this role, he will continue to oversee and work closely with the Acelero Learning team by chairing and participating in all board meetings; maintaining involvement in sales and investor relations work; and meeting weekly with the CEO and President/CAO. Mr. Lieberman has consulted closely with senior leaders and the Acelero Learning Board in developing this transition plan, and will maintain his strong commitment and dedication to the company from his new home in Arizona.

“Nobody can replace Aaron,” said Mr. Wilde. “His talent, vision, and energy are beyond that of anyone I have met or known -- and it is a testament to him that the team we have built at Acelero Learning and Shine Early Learning reflect all of those attributes. I am confident that our team of leaders will continue to drive innovation and positive child outcomes in our programs and the Head Start programs we serve. I am excited to continue to work with him in his new capacity and to build on the work we have done together for the past 15 years."

“This is both an exciting time as well as a sad one for me,” said Mr. Whiteman. “Aaron Lieberman personally recruited me, first as an Acelero Monmouth County board member, and later as the company’s CAO, and I will greatly miss seeing him on a daily basis. He is a true visionary and an inspiring leader who is unparalleled in his field. At the same time, I know that Henry Wilde is poised to be a phenomenal CEO for this company, and the notion of expanding my partnership with him is incredibly energizing. I look forward to working alongside Henry to continue to expand our reach and make even greater progress as we strive to close the achievement gap for many thousands of children and families.”

Please see the full press release here.

Acelero Learning Receives $4 million Program-Related Investment from the Packard Foundation

Former OHS Director Yvette Sanchez Fuentes joins the board, company poised for future growth in impact and outcomes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 19, 2015
New York, New York

Acelero Learning announced today that it has received a $4 million Program-Related Investment loan from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “These funds from the Packard Foundation will allow us to complete the re-capitalization process we began last year, providing some liquidity to our initial investors, including Boston Community Capital and Ironwood Capital, while positioning the company to continue our rapid growth,” said Aaron Lieberman, co-founder of Acelero Learning and CEO of Shine Early Learning. “We continue to break new ground – demonstrating that a double bottom line company that produces break through child outcome gains for low-income children and families and can also produce a reasonable returns for investors. In this way, we are providing a desperately needed proof point for the emerging world of impact investing,” concluded Lieberman.

“The funds from the Packard Foundation are important to us on at least two levels,” said Henry Wilde, Acelero Learning’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer. “First and foremost, this is a major stamp of approval to have a mission-first, philanthropic investor like the Packard Foundation make this type of commitment to the company. Second, these funds will give the company the flexibility to continue to prioritize pursuit of our social impact goals. As a company, we believe that our first duty is to close the achievement gap for low-income children and families served by the Head Start program – and that financial success will follow from breakthrough child outcome gains.” The Packard Foundation joins Acelero Learning’s investor group which includes Ironwood Capital, Boston Community Capital, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, New Profit, NewSchools Venture Fund, and New Jersey Community Capital.

“As an impact-first investor, the return we seek is deep social impact that advances our grantmaking strategies. We are impressed by Acelero Learning’s outcome-focused approach to promoting quality early education and closing the achievement gap for children and families served by the Head Start program,” said Susan Phinney Silver, Program-Related Investment Manager for the Packard Foundation. “Through this loan we are thrilled to support the expansion of Acelero Learning’s promising early childhood education model and services within communities across the country.”

As part of the transaction, the board of Acelero Learning will expand to include two new members: Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, the President of the National Alliance for Hispanic Families and former Director of the Office of Head Start, and Georgia Levenson Keohane, the Director of the Program on Profits and Purpose at the New America Foundation. “I have long admired Acelero Learning and I am particularly excited to join the board to help the company spread their innovative practices which we know are so effective,” commented Sanchez Fuentes.

“We are exclusively focused on continuing to generate breakthrough child outcome gains at our own Acelero Learning Head Start programs, while rapidly growing our Shine Assist and Shine Implement efforts where we help others achieve breakthrough gains in their own Head Start programs,” concluded Doug Whiteman, Acelero Learning’s Chief Administrative Officer. “The strong support of the Packard Foundation and our current investor group will allow us to continue to make key investments in further closing the achievement gap, including the transformation of our Shine Insight data system into an enterprise system capable of revolutionizing the way that Head Start services reach hundreds of thousands of low-income children and families.”

Read more.

Acelero Learning Selected as Head Start Replacement Grantee for Racine, Wisconsin

Acelero Learning will provide high quality services to 528 young children and their families in Racine County, Wisconsin.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 11, 2014
Racine, WI

Acelero Learning has been selected by the US Department of Health and Human Services to be the Head Start grantee for Racine, Wisconsin. With this award, Acelero Learning will be funded to serve over 5,000 children and families in Head Start in four different states.  Last year, Acelero Learning was awarded a portion of the Milwaukee County service area, and immediately implemented program options offering more full-day and extended hour options for parents.

 “We are thrilled about expanding our work in Wisconsin to include Racine,” said Henry Wilde, Acelero Learning’s Chief Operating Officer and Head Start Director.  “All services will be provided through our local delegate agency, Acelero Learning Wisconsin, which has already expanded the number of service hours available to children in Milwaukee.  Our plan is to dramatically increase the number of full-day slots, and, starting next summer, operate classrooms on a year round basis.  Our goal is to provide a major increase in classroom hours for participating children to truly help every child enrolled get ready for successful kindergarten entry.”

Read more.

Doug Whiteman Joins Acelero Learning as Chief Administrative Officer

New York, NY - January 30th, 2014

Doug Whiteman, former Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the international publishing house, Penguin Group, has joined Acelero Learning, Inc. as Chief Administrative Officer. Mr. Whiteman will oversee the strategic direction, expansion and operation of Acelero Learning's back office systems in both their Training and Technical Assistance division and directly administered Head Start programs. Mr. Whiteman previously served as the Chair of Acelero Learning’s Monmouth/Middlesex County Board of Directors for six years before formally joining the company.

“I've known Doug for almost two decades and I'm so thrilled that he's joining our team here at Acelero Learning,” says Aaron Lieberman, founder and CEO. “He is a unique mix of a world class operational leader with a deep passion for the children and families that we serve. I know he will play a key role in helping us close the achievement gap for the children and families we serve by ensuring our back office systems are as cutting edge and results-oriented as our programmatic approaches are today.” 

 “I am thrilled beyond measure to join Acelero Learning, with whom I’ve been associated as a board member for a number of years, in a role that allows me to move into a mission-based phase of my career,” continues Mr. Whiteman.  “I embrace Acelero Learning’s vision wholeheartedly, and look forward to being able to help even more children and families than I could reach via my position on the local governing board.”

Mr. Whiteman's career began in 1982 when he joined the Putnam Berkley Group as a sales representative. He went on to lead as Senior Vice President and Publisher of the Putnam and Grosset Group and subsequently President of Penguin Young Readers Group, responsible for the overall publishing program of the $200 million subsidiary which included more than ten imprints. In 2008 he was promoted to head of Business Operations for the company where he led Penguin’s digital transformation.

Acelero Learning was founded in 2001 by Aaron Lieberman, a former Head Start teacher, and Henry Wilde, a Children's Defense Fund staffer, with a mission to bring relentless focus on positive child and family outcomes to close the achievement gap, and build a better future for children, families and communities served by the Head Start program. Today, Acelero Learning serves nearly 4,500 young children and families in Head Start and Early Head Start programs across the country and children in their Head Start programs make outcome gains at more than twice national averages.  In pursuit of their mission to positively affect the broader Head Start community, Acelero Learning's Training and Technical Assistance division disseminates the practices that they developed and tested in their Head Start programs to over 125 Head Start programs serving more than 100,000 children nationwide.

For more information about this Press Release please contact: 
Taylor Thompson
Acelero Learning 
taylor@acelero.net