Bridges makes US debut with investment in Springboard Education

  • Springboard provides high-quality before- and after-school educational programming to 6,000 children at 53 public and charter schools
  • Bridges Ventures’ investment will allow Springboard to expand access to its programs, allowing it to reach tens of thousands of children across the U.S.
  • This is the first investment from Bridges’ U.S. office, which provides aligned capital to help high-growth, high-impact U.S. businesses
  • Bridges’ investment in Springboard builds on over a decade of education-sector investing experience by the firm’s principals in the U.S. and the U.K.

Bridges Ventures (“Bridges”), a private equity firm dedicated to sustainable and impact investing, has announced an investment in Springboard Education in America (“Springboard”), a provider of affordable before- and after-school educational programming. Springboard currently serves over 6,000 students, primarily between kindergarten and fifth grade, on 53 public and charter school campuses across seven states and Washington DC.

Springboard’s mission is to bridge the achievement gap between children who attend public and private schools, as well as the gap between U.S. schools and the best-performing schools in foreign countries.

The company was founded by Kevin Flynn, a successful software entrepreneur, who launched programs in two schools in Massachusetts in 2008 after becoming frustrated by the poor quality of the after-school programming available to his own children.

Unlike some providers, Springboard hires credentialed teachers to provide a range of enrichment programs, including homework support, literacy and physical activities. The company has worked with independent researchers to demonstrate that students who participate in these programs show a marked improvement in both school attendance and test scores.

In addition to its financial investment in Springboard, Bridges will bring experienced educators to the board of directors, help to recruit additional team members, open doors to new school partnerships and expand scholarships for disadvantaged students.

John Rogers, Partner at Bridges Ventures, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Springboard Education, which delivers high-quality extended-day programming at an affordable price. The demand for before- and after-school education is enormous, and there are few quality providers at any meaningful scale. The Springboard team is filling that gap.”

Kevin Flynn said: “This is a very smart opportunity for Springboard and for our team. I had an important choice to make as I thought about the next phase of Springboard’s growth. Bridges and I share the same philosophy: to maximize social impact through investment. The most important way to prevent children from falling behind in school, as they move through the grades, is to create a sophisticated after-school program using teachers who can work with children using our methods and curriculum. We were impressed with the Bridges team and believe that they will help us to grow to serve tens of thousands of students across the country.”

Dr. Brett Prilik, Springboard’s Executive Director of education, added: “There is a big difference in the opportunities for after-school education between high-income and lower-income students, and that is one of the factors fueling an achievement gap in the U.S. We bring high-quality programs led by credentialed teachers onto the school campus. Based on sound research, our programs have been show to increase academic achievement for all children.”

Springboard has also announced the appointment of a new President, Peter Cannone. Cannone most recently served as the President and CEO of OnForce, a technology-enabled workforce solutions provider. He also grew up in the education sector, as the son of the superintendent of the East Longmeadow and Sandwich School Districts.

Cannone said: “My experience is in growing organizations that rely on human capital for their success,” “My first priority is to ensure our continued ability to recruit, on-board and retain highly-qualified teachers at our sites.”

Bridges’ investment in Springboard builds on over a decade of education-sector investment experience by the firm’s principals in the U.S. and the U.K. This investment has been led by U.S. Partner John Rogers, who has previously invested in supplemental, experiential and career education through companies like Sylvan Learning, Strayer Education, Delta Career Education and Envision.

In the UK, Bridges has invested in education sub-sectors like apprenticeships, through Babington Business College, and early childhood education, through the London Early Years Foundation.

This is the first investment made by Bridges’ U.S. office. Bridges focuses on equity investments in growing companies in the health & wellness, education & skills and sustainable living sectors. It primarily works with founder-owners who have built a growing and profitable model, and are seeking a financial partner to scale their business.




After-school education in the US:

  • According to the Afterschool Alliance, there are 10.2 million school-age children in the U.S. enrolled in after-school programs – and a further 11.3 million who are left alone and unsupervised after school.
  • About $21.9 billion is currently spent on U.S. after-school programs, according to a January 2015 Ibis World Report.

About Bridges Ventures:

Bridges Ventures is a private equity firm with offices in London and New York. Founded by Sir Ronald Cohen, Michele Giddens and Philip Newborough in 2002, Bridges is entirely dedicated to sustainable and impact investing, with more than $800m under management.

Bridges opened its first U.S office in 2014, led by partners Brian Trelstad and John Rogers. Bridges believes that challenges in the areas of health, education, and the environment in the U.S. demand innovation and represent dynamic and rapidly-growing new markets.

Bridges’ global investment team has experience investing in and scaling businesses that address unmet market needs in the areas of health & wellness, education & skills, and sustainable living. A focus on sustainability and impact is core to its strategy: it motivates the team, allows them to spot opportunities that others might not see, and resonates with founder-owners looking for aligned capital.

More information about Bridges can be found at: http://bridgesventures.com/us/

About Springboard Education: 

Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, Springboard is committed to providing high-quality, well-rounded and engaging extended-day programming that supports the academic, social, emotional and physical development and achievement of students. It does this by becoming firmly embedded within its partner schools and employing well-trained, licensed teachers who have committed their professional lives to improving educational outcomes for children.

More information about Springboard can be found at: http://www.springboardafterschool.com/