Press release

Resulting from a partnership between Arizona State University and The Rise Fund, forward-thinking employers will be able sponsor employees to earn degrees and credentials from the world’s foremost universities

Arizona State University (ASU), recognized by U.S. News and  World Report as the country’s most innovative university,  and The Rise Fund, a global impact investing fund managed by TPG, have  collaborated to launch InStride, a learning services enterprise designed to  achieve significant social impact through partnerships with employers to  provide opportunities for  employees to obtain a university education. ASU’s successful existing  relationships with innovative companies, such as Starbucks, served as the  catalyst for the new company, with plans for more employers and universities to  be added in the coming months. 

“Too many  people have been left out of higher education for reasons such as cost, time, or family circumstances,” said Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State  University. “Many forward-thinking employers are already leading the way in the  movement to provide learning opportunities for employees that result in  life-altering benefits.We have created InStride to accelerate that movement and  partner with more employers who seek to provide flexible learning options for  employees no matter what stage of their career they are in.”

In the  United States, about half the people who start college don't finish, leaving 37  million Americans with some college credits but no degree. That’s more than 20  percent of the working-age population. In an economy that increasingly demands  workers with knowledge and skills, it is imperative that more opportunities are  provided for individuals to obtain a university degree. By serving as the key  link between universities and employers, InStride will facilitate partnerships  that will positively impact the lives of thousands of people who will benefit  from a high-quality education. 

“We  founded InStride to champion a movement that deepens the connection between employers  and their employees, helping them take a powerful next step in their careers,” said  InStride Chief Executive Officer Vivek Sharma. “InStride will provide the opportunity for employers to unite with the  highest-quality universities to ensure meaningful impact in the lives of their  employees.”

ASU, as the first  university partner in this effort, offers a unique technology platform designed  for scalable delivery of digital teaching and learning models to increase  student success and reduce barriers to achievementin higher education. ASU  Online offers more than 175 bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and  certificate programs. The courses are all taught by the same award-winning  faculty as the university’s in-person classes and students are awarded the same  degree as students who attend on campus. InStride will work with employers to build  education partnerships with ASU and other universities that meet the needs of  their employees.

“As a  social impact fund, Rise was created for this kind of opportunity,” said Jim Coulter, Founder and Co-CEO, TPG, Managing Partner of the Rise Fund. “Education  has been a constant focus for Rise as we’ve invested and supported the growth of impactful companies across the sector. President Crow is a unique leader and the scale at which ASU is delivering a quality education online is unprecedented.”

The social and economic benefits of higher education are well-documented and include higher earnings and increased social mobility, greater civic participation and  stronger health outcomes. Further, organizations  around the world are pointing to the development of human capital as their  number one priority for growth and competitiveness. Employers are facing a critical need to recruit, retain and train their workforce. 
The creation of a dedicated organization like InStride that directly connects  large employers with the highest-quality research institutions will be crucial  to broadening the ability of individuals to pursue a college education, as they  seek ways to improve the skills of their workforce and retain their  workforce. 

Steve Ellis, a Rise Managing Partner said “We’ve been fortunate to recruit a national caliber team of experienced and committed executives to lead this effort in  partnership with ASU and Rise. As a former CEO myself, I believe the quality of  educational offerings in the workplace will become the new standard for  companies who want to establish themselves as progressive employers.”

Arne Duncan, former US Secretary of Education commented, “Our system of higher education is at risk of becoming unaffordable and therefore inequitable. This partnership is a great way to widen access to education and boost job prospects for millions of Americans.”

This idea started as a conversation between ASU and the Rise Fund. InStride is a venture  that has been two years in the making. “When we first had the opportunity to sit down with President Crow to discuss this idea, we immediately recognized the opportunity to deliver high quality college degrees to working adults where they need it most — in the workplace,” said John Rogers, the Education Sector Lead for the Rise Fund. “By working with leading corporations and tuition assistance programs, we will help to create thousands of ‘debt-free degree  holders’ over the next 10 years and allow companies to improve workplace skills and retain key talent.”

InStride is reinventing the education of today’s workforce, working with employers to provide opportunities to education  credentials and degrees for their employees and partners, through the  highest-quality universities and colleges. InStride is a public-benefit corporation that aims to become the indispensable human capital partner of organizations, helping them unlock the full potential of the university ecosystem and provide  meaningful, life-changing impacts for their employees. 

For more information please visit
InStride  Contact: John James Nicoletti
Telephone:  714.924.4828

Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and  impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that  contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

Arizona State University Contact: Katie Paquet
Telephone:  480-727-3938