Dec 3, 2021 · 6 min read

2021 CZI Ventures: Investing in Progress

A Year-end Review Highlighting the Accomplishments of Companies in Our Investment Portfolio

Jan 2020 | Adult student engages with online learning platform | Photograph by fizkes via iStockPhoto
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Editor’s Note: This release has been updated as of 2/28/22.

As we close the books on 2021, one thing is clear: the disruption caused by the pandemic will have far-reaching effects on how we live, work, and learn. In order to deliver instruction amidst school closures, K12 schools and districts accelerated their adoption of technology for learning. Rapid innovation and changing mindsets also enhanced opportunities for at-home learning, as well as new global models for flexible learning for students seeking opportunities to develop new skills and career pathways.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our local communities. Our mission is to build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone. One of the ways we do this is through impact investing because we recognize that entrepreneurs are developing transformative and scalable solutions to challenges at the heart of our mission. 

“We invest in companies that are using technology to expand opportunity in education, climate change and across other social issues,” says Vivian Wu, managing partner of CZI Ventures. “Our CZI investments prioritize innovative business models or distribution; scalable, sustainable businesses that can achieve a broad impact; and social entrepreneurs who develop creative solutions to overcome historical inequities and long-standing barriers to opportunity. In education, the companies we support help individuals discover a love for learning, achieve their education goals and full potential, or enhance their career path.”

Over the last year, the education technology companies in our portfolio have proven how invaluable their products and services are in empowering students, teachers, schools, and districts; and have seen stellar success in scaling their high quality solutions to have as much impact as possible. 

In 2021, CZI continued to support several of our edtech portfolio companies in their development of differentiated learning and development experiences based on individual needs and learner profiles. Meeting each learner where they are – whether that’s by geographic location, point of progress on a developmental journey, or in terms of their individual learning needs for pace and environment – sets up more students for success.

Additionally, we also continued to invest in our portfolio companies working to democratize access to opportunities by transcending global borders with online learning, and professional networks that value diversity of talent. 

Beyond supporting the global growth of our existing portfolio companies, CZI also made our first investments in Latin America and Europe in 2021. 

In addition to CZI’s participation in these companies’ 2021 funding rounds, we observe the ongoing impact being made across our Ventures portfolio, and recognize ways they continue to innovate and grow. This includes how Age of Learning secured $300M in funding, achieving the largest-ever raise by an edtech company to date in the United States. Its flagship product, ABCmouse.com Early Learning Academy, is used by tens of millions of children in preschool through second grade, and its full product line reaches more than 50 million globally.

The education technology companies in our portfolio have raised more than $3.5 billion combined in 2021 to help learners of all backgrounds succeed.

Throughout the year, we continually assess additional opportunities to support CZI’s mission, and accordingly, our Ventures portfolio evolves. In 2021 we made a strategic program investment as part of CZI’s exploratory activities to address climate change. We invested in CarbonBuilt as part of its $10 million Series A funding round that will accelerate commercialization of its low-carbon concrete technology. Climate change is a pressing global challenge, and CZI is supporting innovations to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.

The pandemic exposed and deepened many inequities in health, education, and the economy. While we don’t know what 2022 will bring, our impact investing approach will continue to back entrepreneurs working toward a just and equitable recovery and improved future.

 

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About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our local communities. Our mission is to build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.

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