Sterling Partners Backs Ashworth College

Ashworth College, a Norcross, Ga.-based provider of secondary and post-secondary distance education program, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding from Sterling Partners.

PRESS RELEASE
Ashworth College, a leading provider of secondary and post-secondary distance education programs, announced that Sterling Partners has provided a growth capital investment.  The capital will support Ashworth’s continued growth as an affordable educational alternative for individuals seeking to improve job skills, expand intellectually, complete a degree program or master a craft.  Several near-term initiatives include enhancing Ashworth’s existing educational programs and adding new content, recruiting additional management expertise to the company, and continuing to improve its state-of-the-art information technology infrastructure to support Ashworth’s student services operations.

Ashworth opened its doors in 1987 as Professional Career Development Institute (“PCDI”), offering one career training course, the Professional Real Estate Appraisal Program.  Since then, Ashworth has expanded to offer a wide range of online distance education programs including: (i) high school diplomas; (ii) career diplomas and certificate programs; and (iii) associate, bachelors and masters degrees, all of which are nationally accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (“DETC”).  In addition, the school offers photography programs through its New York Institute of Photography and interior design programs through its Sheffield School.

Sterling Partners enjoyed a very rewarding partnership with Ashworth and Chairman and CEO Gary M. Keisling from 2003 to 2005 and is excited to re- establish this relationship.  As previous owners, Sterling’s understanding of the operation provides a unique opportunity to jointly improve the business and drive superior outcomes for students. Sterling and Keisling agree that the need for distance education has never been greater and that Ashworth is uniquely positioned to serve its current and prospective students.

Keisling commented, “I am excited to once again join with Sterling Partners to continue our work establishing Ashworth College as a premier online education company.  Sterling brings a wealth of industry experience and resources to its portfolio companies, and our previous success in working together will enable us to move this company forward.  The market for online education continues to grow and I am confident that I can work with the executive team at Ashworth and Sterling to implement important new infrastructure changes and provide our students with exciting education products and services that will meet their needs now and in the future.”

Sterling Partners Principal Jeffrey Moss added that “while it has been six years since we first partnered with Ashworth, the need for the school’s high school, college, and career-oriented educational programs remains stronger than ever.

As part of the Sterling network, Ashworth has already begun to benefit from resources developed at other industry-leading education providers including online delivery methodologies, world-class content, and a student-centric support and learning environment.”

ABOUT ASHWORTH COLLEGE

Ashworth is a leading provider of secondary and post-secondary online education programs to more than 50,000 students.  Headquartered in Norcross, GA, Ashworth has over 200 instructors, graders and employees.  Ashworth opened its doors in 1987 as Professional Career Development Institute (“PCDI”), with one course in “Professional Real Estate Appraisal” and has since added a fully accredited high school diploma program, over 70 career diploma and certificate programs, 14 online associate degree programs, 5 online bachelor’s degree programs and 10 online masters degree programs.  Additionally Ashworth owns the Distance Education Company in New York which offers the New York Institute of Photography (www.nyip.com) and the Sheffield Interior Design School (www.sheffield.edu). For further information, visit
www.ashworthcollege.edu.

ABOUT STERLING PARTNERS

Sterling Partners is a private equity firm with a 25-year history of generating superior returns, with a focus in healthcare, education and business services.

With approximately $4 billion of capital under management, the firm invests in industries with positive, long-term trends and provides ongoing support with a diverse and balanced team of industry veterans, operators, investors, strategy experts, and human capital professionals.  Sterling has offices in Chicago and Baltimore.  For more information, please visit www.sterlingpartners.com.
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