This past March, millions of U.S. college students departed for Spring Break unaware that they wouldn’t be returning to campus to complete their schooling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Education has had to quickly adapt to fast-moving conditions and find ways to deliver academic instruction online, transforming every student into a distance learner. It’s still unclear whether most schools will welcome students back for traditional classes in August, but the nation’s largest four-year college system, California State University, has already announced its plans to keep nearly all of its classes online for the fall semester. Whatever the future holds for other postsecondary institutions, the education startups in the Michelson Investment Portfolio stand ready to continue helping students achieve academic success.
Over the last few weeks, Michelson companies have adapted their solutions to meet the unique demands of the current crisis. “I am proud that the companies in our portfolio are stepping up when students need them most,” says Gary K. Michelson, M.D., Founder of the Michelson 20MM Foundation. “While the field of education has entered uncharted waters, it’s reassuring that the people behind our startups are doubling down on their commitment to supporting learners.”
Here’s how Michelson Investment Portfolio companies including Edquity, Giblib, GooRoo, Motimatic, NameCoach, Osmosis, and ReUp Education are responding to the moment.
Edquity offers the first end-to-end emergency aid technology platform for postsecondary institutions and has responded quickly to COVID-19 in a number of ways. To counteract the Department of Education’s muddled guidance on the disbursement of emergency funds allocated by the CARES Act, Edquity worked with Believe in Students and Course Hero to launch the COVID-19 Student Emergency Aid Initiative. The effort ensures all students, including non-Title IV eligible students omitted from federal guidance, can receive critical emergency support in the wake of COVID-19. Additionally, Edquity has reengineered its product to support the administration of federal CARES emergency aid, and has expanded its footprint to serve Western Governors University, Compton College, Bellevue College, and Los Rios Community College District in their own COVID-19 responses. Edquity has also assembled COVID College Support, a free national database of COVID-19-related resources that ensures students all across the country can find critical emergency resources, regardless of whether their institution is partnered with Edquity.
GIBLIB offers a streaming service of medical lessons referred to by physicians as the “Netflix of Medical Education”. The startup has partnered with Mayo Clinic to release daily COVID-19 updates that address the most urgent topics important to healthcare providers. This content is available for free and can be found here. In addition, GIBLIB is offering select medical schools free, temporary access to its service in order to provide medical students and instructors with high-quality educational and informational content. The company has on-boarded more than 30 medical schools to help during the crisis.
Gooroo provides off-campus learning to K-12 students with the help of tutors who mentor, encourage, and ignite passion. In response to the crisis, Gooroo is offering a 25% discount on all virtual tutoring to help families throughout the United States. The startup is also launching Gooroo Live, an initiative to provide free live educational courses in a variety of subjects. This program will allow students worldwide to access full, step-by-step courses led by star Gooroo instructors. Additionally, Gooroo will soon offer $10,000 scholarships to help select students fund their education.
Motimatic is a Public Benefit Corporation that harnesses the combined power of Motivation Science and digital advertising to nudge people toward positive action. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Motimatic immediately partnered with its clients to deliver critical safety and informational updates directly to the social media feeds of students, faculty, staff and employees. This effort is ongoing and expected to grow, particularly as employees start to return to the workplace and students begin returning to the classroom.
The pandemic has pushed work, school, and even play into virtual settings, presenting challenges to social and emotional health. To support a continued sense of community and belonging, NameCoach has launched new services and offerings including: Virtual Commencement & Recognition Events; Virtual Orientation Events; free use of the NameCoach Salesforce App; new K-12 products to support teachers; and livestream events on belonging and engagement in the virtual world (see collaborations with Instructure here and here). For updated resources visit https://cloud.name-coach.com/covid-19/.
Osmosis.org is redefining health education for millions of current and future caregivers with engaging, informative, and entertaining medical videos. Osmosis’s COVID-19 resources include the Coronavirus Pandemic Daily Report, which provides focused updates on COVID-19, as well as a free, CME-accredited course on the diagnosis and management of this disease. Osmosis has also given out the equivalent of over 5,000 years of free access to its learning platform as part of ongoing efforts to train the next generation of healthcare workers and bolster the capacity of healthcare systems worldwide. Find more free COVID-19 resources here.
Pre-pandemic, there were 36 million Americans who possessed some college experience but no degree. As the crisis has disrupted the lives of millions of students, we expect that number to only grow. ReUp partners with colleges across the country to re-enroll students who have dropped out of college, supporting them on the path back to earning a degree. In the past two months, ReUp has expanded its reach to assist thousands of additional students at no upfront cost. Additionally, the company is building a free-to-student network of universities that will welcome any student across the country back to school.
From emergency financial assistance to online tutoring and free learning materials for medical students, startups in the Michelson Investment Portfolio are helping to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t pose an insurmountable obstacle to learning. While the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting extraordinary challenges to students around the country, we stand united in overcoming them together.
Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about any of these efforts or connecting with our incredible portfolio companies.