Shearwater Raises $600K to Support Growth
of Student-Centered Mentorship Programs
BOSTON, MA. Shearwater announced today that it received $600,000 in Series Seed-1 funding to accelerate growth of its personalized student support platform, Mentor Collective. On the back of recent research at partner institutions which shows that Mentor Collective can reduce student attrition by up to 4.5%, the new funding will allow Shearwater to expand its team as it implements tech-enabled peer mentorship programs at campuses nationwide.
Shearwater’s Mentor Collective program has already produced impressive results at several renowned institutions across the country, including Northeastern University, Indiana University, and Washington University in St. Louis. The company’s goal of empowering universities to undertake scalable student support initiatives struck a chord with primary investor Rethink Education, a VC fund that seeks out innovative edtech startups aiming to change the way we teach and learn.
“As a mission-driven company, we have worked hard to ensure that our underlying model delivers outcomes to both institutions and learners,” said Jackson Boyar, CEO and Co-Founder of Shearwater. “In this next phase of growth, we aspire to bring personalized supports to all students and were thrilled to find a like-minded partner in Rethink.”
At a time when the majority of American college students fall into categories previously considered ‘nontraditional’, Shearwater’s Mentor Collective product helps schools meet all learners where they’re at. Intentional matching connects each student to a peer with similar interests, life experiences or challenges — whether they are a community college transfer student, a working parent finishing their degree online, or a young woman in engineering classes surrounded by only male peers.
“Meeting the right mentor at the right moment can make a huge difference in helping students to be successful and to persist in their studies,” said Matt Greenfield, Managing Partner at Rethink Education. “Shearwater has shown great results in helping partner schools leverage technology to implement mentorship programs that actually move the needle on persistence rates*. We’re very happy to support the Shearwater team as they expand the capabilities of their Mentor Collective platform and grow their footprint in the US.”
By putting students in the driver’s seat, Shearwater has helped partner schools overcome the challenges that often prevent traditional mentorship programs from scaling — including staffing constraints and student engagement issues. Program tools allow students to control the modes of communication, timing, and content of discussions with their mentor, and instantly transmit urgent challenges and insights from mentors back to the school.
As they continue to expand, the company remains dedicated to a culture of continuous learning that is reflected in its product and powered by its growing team.
“I’m truly proud of our team’s deep dedication and rigorous approach to improving the lives of students,” said James Lu Morrissey, COO and Co-Founder. “Each team member is constantly reflecting on the ways that we can do better, individually and as a group. We’re excited to be expanding the Shearwater family because each team member’s unique perspective helps us increase our impact on student lives.”
*Shearwater results from 2016-17 control trial with Midland University.