Edutech startup Cell-Ed raises $1.5 million to increase Cell-Ed’s workforce content and credentialing pathways and enhance advanced mobile technology
Cell-Ed, a mobile learning solution for low-skilled workers, has raised a $1.5 million seed round to increase Cell-Ed’s workforce-related content and credentialing pathways, as well as to enhance advanced mobile technology and provide even greater learner personalization and reach. The latest round of financing was led by Lumina Impact Ventures, the impact investing arm of Lumina Foundation with participation from Strada Education Innovation Fund, Partners Group Impact (Verein), and Twilio.org Impact Fund.
Cell-Ed is mobile-first because 89% of time-strapped adults cannot make it to attend classes in person. By providing lessons over voice and SMS on devices ranging from basic flip phones to data-powered smartphones, Cell-Ed can serve millions of low-skilled, on-the-go adults who are eager to learn.
A lack of consistent internet access and digital literacy significantly hamper today’s online training and app-only offerings for this underrepresented, and often misunderstood, population. To date, millions of messages have been exchanged between Cell-Ed and learners, who access the platform through employers and education providers, and gain skills 84% faster than if in a classroom.
Founded in 2014 by Jessica Rothenberg-Aalami, Cell-Ed is a women-led company focused on serving the massive market of 100 million U.S. adults and 2 billion worldwide who cannot read above a sixth-grade level. The company has expanded to offer lessons in language, job and digital literacy skills over any mobile device. Jessica is an impact entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience designing and delivering relevant tech to global markets. Her on-the-ground experience in over 40 countries stems from her rigorous attention to customer needs.
Cell-Ed offers a complete mobile solution for employers and education providers to reach, retain and upskill millions of low-skilled, low-literate, low-wage workers worldwide on any mobile device – from smartphones to tablets to computers to even flip phones – with no internet connection or data plan needed. Our personalized and scalable platform, real-world courses and customizable content are used by Discovery, AT&T, the States of New York and Texas, SEIU, the Los Angeles Public Library and others. Their learners experience 84% faster skills gains with Cell-Ed. A social enterprise based in Palo Alto, California, we are the Employment Technology Fund’s (ETF) first investment. ETF is an impact investment fund capitalized by ECMC Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Walmart Foundation.
“Lumina Impact Ventures invested in Cell-Ed because the foundation believes their platform will bring the country closer to the goal that drives our work — increasing the proportion of working-age Americans with college degrees, certificates, and other high-quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “Adults are more rapidly building their skills and earning credentials through Cell-Ed’s platform. This opens them up to new employment opportunities and further education. We look forward to supporting the company’s next phase as it builds its customer and revenue bases to create even greater benefit for individuals, society, and the economy.”
“I’m impressed by Lumina Impact Ventures’ profound sense of urgency around helping millions of Americans earn credentials beyond a high school diploma,” said Jessica Rothenberg-Aalami, CEO and founder of Cell-Ed. “We both share an unceasing commitment to reaching and teaching workers who have been more underserved than upskilled, so they can secure better opportunities. I feel incredibly fortunate that Lumina, with its deep networks and strong brand, will be supporting Cell-Ed as we continue to scale.”
Cell-Ed recently solidified its reach last month when it was named one of five finalists in the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation. This allows Cell-Ed to continue serving the competition’s 12,000 low-literate adult participants in Los Angeles, Dallas and Philadelphia. The winner will be announced in early 2019.