New York City-based Parallel Learning secured a $20 million Series A funding round to expand its platform for students with learning difficulties nationwide.
Founded by CEO Diana Heldfond, the company aims to use the investment to expand from operating in six U.S. states to 18 or 23 by the end of 2022 — and all states by the end of 2023.
So far, the company has raised $22.8 million. It raised $2.8 million as part of its launch in December 2021, according to a news release.
“We have a lot of lessons we’ve learned about just how geographic focus can be really the key to unlocking tremendous growth,” Heldfond told Behavioral Health Business in an interview. “At Parallel, we are all about being able to create better and more affordable care than what you would get in a traditional setting.”
Parallel Learning offers digital psychoeducational services for students whose learning may be impacted by learning disabilities or mental health conditions. Its clients include families and school districts.
In practice, Parallel Learning provides psychological assessments; offers education support services such as skill-based tutoring and executive function coaching; and offers therapeutic services such as behavioral therapy and speech and language therapy.
Some conditions that Parallel Learning addresses include anxiety, ADHD, depression, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and intellectual and developmental disorders. It, however, does not diagnose and support autism spectrum disorders.
The virtual one-stop shop approach is vital to how Parallel Learning aims to woo customers through its D2C approach (going straight to parents) and its B2B approach (selling to school districts).
For both revenue segments, Parallel Learning seeks to fill any voids left by school districts, whether it be an inability to provide services or services not meeting the complexity of a student’s needs.
It also seeks to do so with greater speed and affordability than traditional private operators can provide. For private psychologists, it could take as long as six to eight months and cost an average amount of between $2,500 to $3,000 and potentially as much as between $5,000 and $10,000 in large metros, Heldfond said.
Parallel Learning aims to start children on services within a week and prices assessments at about $1,500, a typical price for the six states where Parallel presently operates. Pricing may vary and fluctuate depending on state-level trends.
“Keep in mind that when the school district does testing, it’s typically in the framework of trying to figure out what that child qualifies for in terms of services, but it’s not necessarily meant to be a full diagnosis and it’s not meant to necessarily give in-depth answers to the family about how they can support the child’s day to day,” Heldfond said. “It’s really [about] what boxes does a child check for different services and how many hours of services should be provided and so forth.”
On the D2C side, parents typically seek private options when they see noticeable delays or other issues in their children’s education and want deeper answers or find that their child doesn’t qualify for services through the district. Many families have insurance plans that cover various testing and clinical care, but the degree of coverage widely varies, Heldfond said.
On the B2B side, Parallel Learning seeks to supplement or stand in place of district-level services, especially where staffing issues may limit the capabilities of a district. For some smaller school districts, it wouldn’t make sense to have certain clinicians such as speech and language therapists on staff at all, Heldfond said.
“They [smaller school districts] typically have relied on local providers to be able to provide those services,” Heldfond said. “So, Parallel is just doing that exact same thing at a very large scale.”
Parallel Learning employs about 20 staffers now and has a growing contracted clinicians group of between 50 and 60 it has found and vetted on its own.
New York-based investment firm Tiger Global Management led the round. Tiger Global participated in the May $40 million Series B round for Osmind Inc., the February $58 million Series B for Equip Health and led the December 2021 $50 million Series B round for Ophelia Health.
San Francisco-based venture capital firm Obvious Ventures, JAWS Estates Capital (the family office of Starwood Capital Founder Barry Sternlicht) and existing investor Vine Ventures participated in the round, according to the release.
After launching, Parallel Learning hired Susan Liu, former vice president of clinical operations at online mental health platform Cerebral Inc., to serve as chief operating officer, and Robert Stager, previously from Presence Learning and N2Y, to serve as director of partnerships.
“Parallel’s tech-enabled approach is solving the most pressing psychoeducational issues with extreme efficiency, scalability, and quality of care,” Jay Chen, partner at Tiger Global, said in the release. “By partnering with schools and families to not only assess students, but also provide best-in-class ongoing support virtually, Parallel is building an end-to-end digital platform that delivers better outcomes at lower costs.”