Bain Capital-led investor group acquires Penn Foster from Vistria

A Bain Capital-led investor group has acquired Penn Foster, a provider of digital and blended learning programs. The seller was Vistria Group. No financial terms were disclosed. Among the other investors in the buying group were Macquarie Capital, PineBridge Structured Capital and Zoma Capital. William Blair provided financial advice to Penn Foster on the deal.


SCRANTON, Pa. and BOSTON, May 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Bain Capital Double Impact, the impact investing strategy of Bain Capital, today announced that it led an investor group to acquire Penn Foster, a provider of skills development and digital credentialing solutions for today’s dynamic world of work.

Penn Foster is helping to build a stronger, more diverse talent pipeline by delivering skill-building courses, tailored to the needs of frontline and technical workers, in high-growth fields including healthcare, retail, manufacturing and solar energy directly to students — and through partnerships with employers, colleges, and community-based organizations.

“An increasingly dynamic labor market is creating unprecedented complexity for both job-seekers and incumbent workers. Bain Capital Double Impact understands both the strategic and social imperatives that inform our work – together, we’re on a mission to empower individuals with the knowledge, skills and confidence to improve their employability and earning potential,” said Frank Britt, Chief Executive Officer of Penn Foster. “We are connecting thousands of individuals to the skills they need for the jobs they want through an upskilling platform that combines digital content with personalized coaching and communication.”

Penn Foster is pioneering the application of competency-based learning experiences to make learning accessible and effective for more than 170,000 working adults and out-of-school youth each year. Because its programs are low-cost, and often delivered in partnership with employers, Penn Foster is able to scale impactful, effective programs without reliance on public funding or student debt.

According to a recent survey of alumni, nearly 80% of employed Penn Foster graduates reported a positive change in their job status, such as a promotion, a raise, a new job, or increased responsibilities within six months of graduating. Penn Foster’s employer partners also report significant improvements in retention rates through the implementation of the company’s unique talent development programs.

“Penn Foster’s success as a social enterprise is rooted in a longstanding commitment to a mission centered on preparing the workforce of today and tomorrow – and a disciplined focus on in-demand skills and certifications,” said Deval Patrick, a Managing Director at Bain Capital Double Impact. “Practical education is the most powerful enabler of the sort of social and economic mobility that can transform families and communities. We believe that Penn Foster is well-positioned to be a crucial part of the solution to help close America’s skill and equity gaps.”

“Employers are establishing a more pronounced voice in education and training that is fueling a new marketplace for skills,” said Warren Valdmanis, a Managing Director at Bain Capital Double Impact. “We see significant opportunities for Penn Foster to have a lasting impact by building the nation’s most trusted and affordable training platform for in-demand careers.”

“We are thrilled for Frank and the management team at Penn Foster as the company is well positioned for future success,” said Kip Kirkpatrick, Co-Chief Executive Officer at the Vistria Group. “We have enjoyed our partnership immensely over the past three years, and we believe that Bain Capital Double Impact is the right partner for the company to continue its strong momentum.”

Committed debt financing for the transaction was provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA. Other members of the Bain Capital Double Impact led investment group include Macquarie Capital, PineBridge Structured Capital and Zoma Capital. William Blair acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Penn Foster for the transaction. Paul Weiss provided legal representation to Penn Foster and Ropes & Gray represented Bain Capital Double Impact. Bain Capital Double Impact acquired the company from the Vistria Group.

About Penn Foster
Penn Foster is bridging the gap between education and economic opportunity to build tomorrow’s workforce. For over 125 years, Penn Foster has helped individuals develop the skills they need to pursue purposeful, and productive careers through affordable diploma, certificate and degree programs. With more than 40,000 graduates each year, Penn Foster’s digital and blended learning programs are delivered in a self-paced model along with personalized academic and career coaching. For more information, visit or our partners site at

About Bain Capital Double Impact
Bain Capital Double Impact ( is the impact investing strategy of Bain Capital, a leading global private investment firm. Bain Capital Double Impact utilizes Bain Capital’s proven, deep diligence, value-added approach to build great companies that deliver both competitive financial returns and meaningful, measurable social and environmental good. Bain Capital Double Impact focuses on health & wellness, sustainability, and community building to create long-term value and meaningful impact at scale. Its goal is to enable the next phase of financial and impact growth for our partner companies, which are solving critical social problems, and doing so profitably. We believe that our value-added approach, experienced team, and broad platform expertise will help our partner companies to thrive.

About The Vistria Group
The Vistria Group is a Chicago-based private investment firm focused on investing in middle market companies in the healthcare, education, and financial services sectors. Vistria’s team is comprised of highly experienced operating partners and private equity executives with proven track records of working with management teams in building innovative, market-leading companies.