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Bain Capital Double Impact leads acquisition of workforce development firm Penn Foster

ImpactAlpha, May 3 –  Penn Foster is an online, for-profit school that trains U.S. workers for jobs that require more than a high-school diploma but less than a four-year college degree.

The 127-year-old school originally addressed a skills gap in coal mining; it now offers low-cost, pay-as-you-go skills training, professional certification and courses to help students earn high school, associate and college diplomas.

Bain’s $390 million Double Impact fund led a group of investors in acquiring a controlling stake in the company. Macquarie Capital, PineBridge Structured Capital and Zoma Capital also participated in the deal. Terms were not disclosed.

Penn Foster graduates 40,000 students each year, and 80% of alumni say they’ve made career progress, according to Bain and Penn Foster.

Frontline workers

Penn Foster’s Dara Warn told ImpactAlpha that employers are “starting to look at investing more in frontline workers and the potential benefits, like better retention, lower cost of [worker] acquisition, better performance and worker satisfaction.” Bain and Penn Foster will focus on improving impact measurement and assessment.

Penn Foster analyzes hours of field training—a requirement for many of its programs—and employee retention for its alums. “We’ll be working closely with the Penn Foster management team to put in improved measures on how education and training positively impacts income potential,” Bain Double Impact’s Warren Valdmanis explains.

Bain Double Impact’s health and wellness group has also made two recent investments in sustainable food: the By CHLOE and Sustainable Restaurant Group restaurant companies.

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