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

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.”

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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.

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.”

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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

Acelero Learning Selected as One of the New Head Start Replacement Grantees for Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Acelero Learning will provide high-quality services to 800 young children and their families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee, WI

Acelero Learning has been selected by the US Department of Health and Human Services to be one of four Head Start grantees for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Acelero Learning will provide services in Milwaukee through Acelero Learning Milwaukee County, a subsidiary of the company that will serve as a Head Start delegate agency for the Milwaukee service area.

“Good Start on Head Start” article from the Asbury Park Press

Five-year-old Ronessa Clemming took a proud curtsy in front of federal Head Start Commissioner Channell Wilkins as he praised a story she wrote with her teacher during Monmouth County Head Start's new summer school program. Channell Wilkins, federal commissioner of Head Start programs, visits the Asbury Park Head Start Center. His visit was to review programs offered bythe county's newprovider, Acelero Learning Monmouth County Head Start Inc., whose founder and CEO is Aaron Lieberman.
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