- Guild Education, a B-corporation that helps companies offer employee education benefits through colleges and universities, announced it raised $157 million in Series D funding.
- The company said the infusion pushes its value to $1 billion. The fundraising round was led by venture capital firm General Catalyst, which has also invested in Airbnb, Warby Parker and ClassPass.
- The additional funding comes as more major employers offer free or heavily subsidized degrees to their workers and as business leaders push companies to invest more in their workforce.
Guild CEO and co-founder Rachel Carlson told Education Dive in an email Thursday that the company sees "ample opportunity" to use the new funding to expand its team, add more corporate and university partners, explore potential acquisitions and provide additional services, including career support for its graduates.
Guild helps colleges and universities tap into a growing interest among employers, particularly Fortune 1000 companies, in using education as an incentive to recruit, retain and in some cases retrain workers.
In recent months, companies including Walmart, Chipotle, Uber and JetBlue have announced plans to add or expand tuition benefits for their workers. Guild works with Walmart and Chipotle, among others, on their programs.
Guild's higher ed roster includes Southern New Hampshire University, Brandman University, the University of Arizona and Purdue University Global. Its 1,600-plus offerings include bachelor's and master's degrees, professional certifications, and high school completion and English-as-a-second-language programs.
In some cases, companies have a hand in the curriculum. Walmart, for instance, told Education Dive earlier this year that it worked with Guild to add case studies, projects and other instructional examples that reflect circumstances unique to its own business.
Studies have shown workers are becoming more interested in such benefits and, when offered, are taking advantage of them more frequently. In general, employees say they want to pursue additional education in technical as well as so-called "soft" skills. But as documented in one recent study from staffing firm Randstad, workers said they lacked the funds and time to do so.
Guild is not the only organization trying to connect colleges and companies for employee education.
Earlier this year, Arizona State University and The Rise Fund, the impact investment arm of TPG, partnered to launch InStride. The venture has a global focus, in this case seeking to work with employers that have employees in different countries and with colleges worldwide.
John Rogers, education sector lead at The Rise Fund, told Education Dive in a recent interview he expects more colleges will try to tap into the market for workforce education.
Earlier this year, the nonprofit National University System launched a business unit devoted to the partnerships. It is initially focusing on the banking, health care, public safety and K-12 and community college education fields.
More than 400,000 working adults have used Guild's services since its founding in 2015, according to the company's announcement.