Nov 21, 2022 · 8 min read
CZI Ventures: 2022 in Review
Portfolio scales its global impact, expands to include companies addressing new global challenges
Editor’s Note: This release has been updated as of 2/13/23.
Our Ventures team invests in companies that are developing transformative and scalable solutions to some of the world’s most seemingly intractable challenges. Amidst a challenging year around the globe, it is heartening to see that our portfolio companies continued to deliver impressive impact this year for communities worldwide, and earn recognition for their efficacy, innovation and leadership.
“We’ve always believed there are opportunities to build extremely successful high-growth, scalable companies that are also driving tremendous social impact,” said Ventures Managing Partner Vivian Wu. “Whether it is in education, climate change or healthcare, we are focused on finding and funding solutions that are serving and expanding access and opportunity for all.”
To hear more from Vivian about how our approach to impact investing has evolved alongside our philanthropic investments in education, biomedical science and climate, and how the Ventures portfolio companies are already delivering outsized impact, listen to her recent conversation with the hosts of the Brazil at Silicon Valley podcast.
In 2022, CZI expanded its Ventures portfolio into new areas of impact ― specifically, climate and healthcare.
Since 2015, we have focused on investing in education innovation and technology across the lifelong spectrum, including democratizing paths to employment. In 2022, we expanded the portfolio to new areas of impact including climate and healthcare.
Through its Ventures portfolio, CZI is working to address climate change by making investments that accelerate innovative and equitable technologies that reduce carbon dioxide (CO₂) and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Reducing carbon emissions from energy-intensive manufacturing is challenging, but companies like Twelve are developing ways to capture and reuse CO₂.
Twelve uses breakthrough technology to eliminate emissions by turning CO₂ into products like jet fuel and car parts. Instead of creating these products from fossil fuels, Twelve sources carbon from existing CO₂ — replacing the fossil carbon in critical chemicals with renewable, recycled carbon from CO₂. By combining CO₂ , water, and renewable energy, Twelve helps organizations like NASA reach climate goals. The transformation of carbon into other materials is a critical stepping stone in getting to a carbon negative economy, and creating a robust market for carbon removal.
Alongside supporting new ways to reduce carbon emissions, we’re also supporting communities that are building resilience against changing environments. We invested in Apollo Agriculture, a commercial farming platform at the intersection of economic opportunity and climate impact that helps small-scale farmers improve their yields through access to financing, high-quality farm inputs, insurance and optimized advice.
We wrapped up 2022 with our investment in Sound Agriculture, a company that is scaling technology to make food production more sustainable. Fertilizers help feed the world, but also cause 3-5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sound Agriculture is working to reduce those emissions along with developing a breakthrough biochemical technology to allow farmers to adapt rapidly to a changing climate and evolving consumer preferences, creating healthier, tastier food that is also better for the planet.
And we are excited by our first healthcare investment. Beep Saúde is leveraging technology to equitably expand access to high-quality healthcare in Brazil. Founded in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Beep offers in-home vaccinations and diagnostic exams. Over 5 million Brazilians in six states can use Beep’s services without additional cost through 40 health insurance partnerships. Beep’s ease of access allows families to keep infants and young children on schedule for preventative care services, and Beep’s model also helps seniors and others with medical or mobility challenges get critical diagnostic tests without having to go to a lab.
CZI Ventures portfolio companies continued to drive measurable ― and even outsized ― impact in increasing access to high-quality education, driving positive education outcomes, and creating economic opportunities.
From the earliest stages, our portfolio companies are committed to building products and tools based on research and evidence of what works and measuring the effectiveness of their solutions. New research continues to demonstrate how these companies are accelerating student learning, with a few examples below.
- Nobel Laureate Michael Kremer of the University of Chicago released the remarkable and inspiring results of a rigorous study on the success of NewGlobe. NewGlobe helps national and state governments in emerging economies transform their public education programs by creating powerful technology-enabled education systems. The study, highlighted in The New York Times, found that the learning gains in NewGlobe’s Kenya program were among the largest in the international education literature, particularly for a program already operating at scale. The results ranked amongst the 99th percentile of international education interventions at scale, as primary students gained almost an additional year of learning in NewGlobe supported schools compared to their student peers in other schools.
- Age of Learning, a leading education technology innovator that has served over 50 million families and the creator of the ABCmouse digital learning program, announced results from a relatively new personalized, adaptive offering that helps young learners master math concepts and skills, My Math Academy. The Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District (HCISD) in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas piloted My Math Academy and went from having 80 percent of pre-kindergarten students in the district lagging in proficiency to having 98 percent ending “On Track”, even in a school year (2020-21) disrupted by the COVID pandemic. Read more about the Harlingen district’s experience with the tool in this Forbes article.
- Newsela, a leading educational content provider, released several studies evaluating their summer reading interventions. One study looked at a Newsela 4-week middle school summer reading intervention and found that Newsela was nearly 70 percent more effective at promoting reading skill maintenance and preventing summer learning slide compared to other summer reading programs. Positive results were especially pronounced among Hispanic-identifying students in the participating district.
Other portfolio companies announced new partnerships and milestones that demonstrate their ability to prepare and fulfill career aspirations of global learners.
- OpenClassrooms, an online learning platform offering reskilling and upskilling education-to-employment programs to global users, continued to make significant progress towards its goal of increasing career outcomes ― which for an individual user might mean a new job, a new job title or salary increase. In its mission report, the platform reported over 14,000 career outcomes over the past year.
- Andela, a global marketplace for remote technical talent, launched a new platform to create a better hiring experience for both talent and recruiters. The company, already known for its focus on high-quality global engineering talent from over 100 countries, also expanded its offering to connect recruiters and employers with designers, product managers, and data talent around the globe.
Across the portfolio, companies were recognized for their innovation, leadership in their respective sectors, and for outstanding workplace culture.
Lovevery, which supports families with stage-appropriate, well-designed play essentials and well-loved subscription play kits based on input from child development experts, was named a Fast Company Top 10 Most Innovative Education Companies and recognized as one of Fast Company’s Top 10 most innovative products of 2022 for their play kits.
Emeritus, which is committed to teaching skills of the future and making world-class education accessible and affordable to individuals, companies and governments around the world, received a Great Place to Work Certification, based on an independent survey of employees on pride, trust, and culture.
Impact-driven innovators from our portfolio were notably well-represented in the GSV EdTech 150, a list of the world’s most transformative growth companies in digital learning curated from 3,000 venture-backed companies by GSV Ventures, which included Age of Learning, Andela, BYJU’S, Brightwheel, Descomplica, Emeritus, Handshake, Lovevery, Newsela, OpenClassrooms, and Panorama Education.
In addition, several also won recognition for innovation in the 2022 EdTech Breakthrough Awards, including Varsity Tutors (Best Student Personalization), BYJU’S (Best Overall e-Learning Solution), and Emeritus (Best Online Education Solution).
CZI’s mission is to build a more inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. This is no small order, especially in a global pandemic that has only deepened some of our most challenging inequities. On the Ventures team, we draw confidence from the progress we see everyday driven by impact-focused entrepreneurs ― and we celebrate with them as they apply technology and innovation in education, climate and healthcare to address, and begin to solve, some of the most significant challenges we face.
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 www.chanzuckerberg.com.