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MaRS Catalyst Fund’s ChallengeU investment helping high school dropouts complete K-12 diploma in North America

April 2, 2019 By: MaRS News Desk

ChallengeU, a Montreal-based online education platform that makes it easier for students to obtain their high school diploma without having to return to brick and mortar schools, announced a financing round of $2M with Real Ventures, MaRS Catalyst Fund and LaSalle International Inc.

Founded in 2013, ChallengeU’s online platform provides students with structural or behavior barriers a better chance to graduate and seek sustained employment and a better future.

There are over 3.2 million high school dropouts in North America, imposing an estimated $2.4 trillion cost on society through crime, unemployment, poverty, tax loss and healthcare. ChallengeU’s goal is to impact society by improving graduation rates, first in Quebec and then in the US.

Quick facts: (USA)

  • The lifetime social burden per youth who does not stay in school is $258,000
  • The total lifetime economic burden, including lost earnings, lower economic growth, tax revenues and higher government savings, is over $750,000 per youth
  • 85% of Canadians receive their high school diploma

Quick facts: (Québec):

  • The total lifetime economic burden, including lost earnings, lower economic growth, tax revenues and higher government savings, is over $120,000 per youth
  • Dropouts have lower average annual incomes than graduates, with lost earnings on the order of $439,000 (undiscounted value) by the end of their working life.
  • Dropouts are affected more severely by unemployment: they are the majority of welfare recipients and the core of the prison population, despite comprising a minority in society. Lastly, dropouts have a shorter life expectancy and a higher incidence of depression.

“ChallengeU is more than an online school, it is a social cause that has a huge impact on society and the quality of life of citizens. We are pleased to have the leading Canadian impact fund as a shareholder. We truly share the values and vision of a better world with the Catalyst MaRS Fund.” Nicolas P. Arsenault, CEO, ChallengeU

“The societal and economic burden of individuals who do not graduate from high-school is staggering. In the US alone, more than 3 million high school dropouts impose an estimated $2.4 trillion cost on society through crime, unemployment, poverty, tax loss and healthcare. Many eligible students don’t attend school because they are primary caregivers or need a steady income. ChallengeU offers an engaging solution by enabling students to attain their diploma using a mobile device – anywhere, anytime – resulting in a significant and positive impact to their health, career, and their community.” Kathryn Wortsman, Fund Manager, MaRS Catalyst Fund

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