Why Alpine is adding Wilson Language Training to education portfolio

The portfolio company will "benefit from added resources to scale their business and address the heightened levels of learnings loss in students across the country resulting from the pandemic," said Alpine's Dan Sanner.

Alpine Investors will announce later this morning that it has acquired a majority stake in Wilson Language Training, a provider of literacy programs. PE Hub discussed the deal and trends in education with Alpine founding partner Dan Sanner and Wilson co-founder Barbara Wilson.

“The pandemic highlighted some of the systemic issues in our education system, such as the experience of teachers and the fact that we as a country are not doing a great job of teaching literacy,” Sanner said. “Wilson is a great example of a company that is a pioneer in their field – training nearly 300,000 educators and certifying over 25,000 teachers nationwide in their teacher certification program – that will benefit from added resources to scale their business and address the heightened levels of learning loss in students across the country resulting from the pandemic.”

Alpine backs companies in the software and services industries and is currently investing out of its $2.25 billion eighth fund. In addition to Wilson, Alpine’s education portfolio includes Riverside Insights, Perennial EdTech and McKissock Learning.

“The American education system has room for improvement across many fronts, and companies that are doing well to address acute problems within the system are experiencing unprecedented growth,” Sanner said. “Helping companies as they scale by offering resources and experience is one of the most compelling reasons for investment in the system from firms like Alpine that look to invest in purpose-driven companies.”

The science of reading

Wilson Language Training was founded in 1985 by Barbara and Edward Wilson, who are retaining a significant minority stake in the company and will continue in leadership roles. The company’s offerings aim to build a solid foundation for beginning readers and reduce the literacy gap for struggling students, including those with dyslexia.

“Over the last few years, Wilson has experienced consistent and accelerated growth, driven by an increased recognition nationally that programs must align with the science of reading, and the passage of local dyslexia laws across 49 states, which together have pointed districts, teachers and parents to Wilson programs and professional learning,” Barbara Wilson said. “Together with Alpine, Wilson will be able to keep up with this growing demand and continue to meet the needs of students, teachers and districts in pursuit of our vision of achieving ‘Literacy for All.’”

What’s next? Wilson said: “Alpine’s support will enable us to continue to build our company together by adding new jobs, creating new opportunities for professional growth for our employees, and further scaling the impact we have on students, teachers and districts all across the country.”

For more on investing in the education sector, see “Why PE firms are still pursuing education deals two years into the pandemic.”