Alpine acquires online K-12 tutoring platform that aims to close education gap

Covid "exposed that education is not equitable across this country and that we need to do more to support the students,” said Alpine's Jim Tormey.

Alpine Investors later this morning will announce the acquisition of FEV Tutor, a Boston-based online K-12 tutoring platform that seeks to “drive change by positively impacting learning outcomes for students from all backgrounds.” The deal extends the PE firm’s portfolio in the education sector.

PE Hub caught up with FEV Tutor CEO Jim Tormey, who joins the company from Alpine’s CEO-in-residence (CIR) program, an initiative that allows proven operators to step into leadership roles within the San Francisco PE firm’s portfolio.

Partnering with schools and school districts, FEV aims to provide high-quality, structured 1:1 online tutoring solutions, delivered by a 24-hour network of tutors. The company’s products meet the Level Two Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the national education law that seeks to ensure success for students and schools.

Two trends are driving demand for FEV’s offerings, according to the company: increased awareness of achievement and equity gaps; and increased acceptance of online learning in K-12 education.

The covid pandemic exposed inequities in access to education in the US.

“Pre-pandemic, people just assumed that everyone had the same opportunities, but when many students were forced to go home where various socio-economic backgrounds were potentially harmful to their learning, it exposed that education is not equitable across this country, and that we need to do more to support the students,” Tormey said. He described education as a great equalizer.

FEV Tutor provides a one-on-one and small group online tutoring platform for disadvantaged K-12 students through partnerships. The company is working with thought leaders, such as the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, to show the high impact that this model has on student achievement.

Under this program, academic consultants design a customized tutoring plan that is aimed at providing a natural extension of the core learning environment for students outside the classroom.

Jim Tormey, FEV Tutor

“It’s a transformational opportunity to make a difference for millions of students at a critical moment in history,” the Tormey said, adding that the company is experiencing hyper-growth as school districts, parents and teachers are eager to close the gap experienced by disadvantaged students.

Tormey said the company is looking to expand its geographic footprints in many school districts where a lot of students can benefit.

Math is one “area where we have seen students fall behind without continuous learning, and the gap has expanded over the course of the pandemic,” Tormey revealed.

He also described third grade through eighth grade as a “sweet spot” for investment, saying early intervention in the middle grades is critical in laying the educational foundation for learners.

“There are studies where the US has fallen behind its peers in terms of educational statistics,” Tormey said. “I think it is so important to invest to reverse that trend today. The opportunity to have that impact is the reason Alpine got so excited about this company.”

Last month, Alpine launched an educational platform for professional training dubbed Axcel.