PresenceLearning, a startup that helps connect students with special needs with online speech and occupational therapy services has raised $8 million in funding led by New Markets Venture Partners with participation from Blue Heron Capital, Birchmere Ventures and returning investors, including Catamount Ventures, Calvert Funds, and Allen & Company.
Founded in 2009, PresenceLearning provides K-12 schools with access to a nationwide network of qualified, fully licensed clinicians to treat children with special needs. The professionals the startup provides access to include language pathologists, counselors, and occupational therapists.
Students can access these professionals via live videoconferencing. Parents and teachers can then access reports and analytics on the child’s progress. The startup has more than doubled its student base each of the past three years and recently completed its 200,000th live online therapy session.
In fact, Clay Whitehead, co-CEO of PresenceLearning, tells us that students served by PresenceLearning therapists consistently exceed national benchmarks for clinical progress. For the most common goals, says Whitehead, which are language based, they are beating the averages by 13 percentage points.
In terms of the business, Whitehead adds that beyond just helping students and teachers in need, special education is a huge spend for schools. Not only does PresenceLearning make this more efficient on the clinical side, but it makes sense for schools too. Special education represents 13% of all students and 20% of all spending in U.S. K-12 education. This translates to roughly 7 million students and at least $60 billion in annual spend.