Our investment in Fiveable

Helps students study online with an initial focus on AP courses.

Background: Much has been said about how the internet has entered the classroom, whether it’s students working on computers and tablets, educators incorporating YouTube videos into lessons, or the adoption of online platforms to submit and grade assignments. Just as important, and often less discussed, is how the internet has changed the student experience at home. Students now regularly use a whole host of platforms, from the Wild West of Yahoo answers, on up through YouTube and the formalized lessons of Khan Academy, to study a variety of subjects. Coronavirus has shifted things even further online, as kids seek to replace what they’ve lost in classroom and after-school instruction.

Most current offerings online usually lack something: quality, community, or accessibility. Crowd-sourced sites and message boards thrive on community, but materials aren’t always reliable or conveniently curated. Even the best study libraries online rarely feature a focus on community or student discussion, even though kids work best when they work together. And high-quality online materials can cost a high premium, denying access to educational success and exacerbating systemic inequalities.

These issues are especially relevant to Advanced Placement (AP) tests, challenging upper-level courses high school students take which earn them a leg up in admissions and college credit. There are 38 different AP classes altogether that over 3M students take each year. Students are hungry for high-quality materials, at low-to-no cost, where they can tackle these challenging subjects together—and enjoy the rewards down the line on their educational futures. 

Company Specifics: Fiveable is an online studying hub that bridges the gap between content, community, and access. It offers students a massive library of materials to help study for the AP tests, including livestreams, Q&As, cram sessions, and study guides, all created and led by expert teachers. It also features a deeply integrated focus on the student community, where kids can chat based on shared courses or other interests and work together. An 800-person “Founding Member” student team works with Fiveable to develop new materials based on student feedback.

Fiveable’s content library, approaching 5,000 different materials, has a variety of pricing options. Much of it is free, so students and teachers of any background have access. There are paid offerings, too, like “cram passes” of extra materials for as low as $5, or the recently launched Fiveable Courses, where $55 unlocks a full-fledged, 15-week course on an AP subject. No matter what tier, Fiveable costs drastically less than private AP tutoring, which often tops $50 an hour. Teachers and TAs who help students on Fiveable, meanwhile, revenue share through tips on the site.

Even before COVID pushed millions of students home, Fiveable had 1.5 million high schoolers using its platform to study for all 38 AP tests, and users boast a 92 percent pass rate on the tests, almost double the national average. This winter, Fiveable is debuting a new community platform with dedicated discussion groups so these students can come together to discuss politics, identities, social justice, and other vital topics. Other expansion plans include potentially broadening beyond high school students and AP courses.

Fiveable CEO Amanda DoAmaral, an experienced educator and activist, began her career as an AP History teacher in Oakland and quickly developed a following online for her livestream AP prep materials. She’s now based in Milwaukee, and Matchstick heard about her through our network in the Midwest. We couldn’t be more excited to work together building an equitable future for online education.

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Natty Zola
September 30, 2020