Guild Education: $157 Million Funding, $1 Billion Valuation, Ken Chenault Joins Board

By Annie Baker ● November 18, 2019
  • Guild Education has announced it raised $157 million in funding at a $1 billion valuation. And the company also announced General Catalyst chairman and managing partner Kenneth I. Chenault joined the board.

Guild Education — a B Corporation focused on creating opportunities for America’s workforce through education — announced it has closed $157 million in Series D funding led by General Catalyst chairman and managing partner Kenneth I. Chenault — who is also known as the former Chairman and CEO of American Express. This round of funding values Guild at $1 billion and it is one of only a few female-led companies to become a unicorn this year.

Right now, 88 million Americans are in need of reskilling and upskilling in order to stay competitive in the future of work. And 64 million of those adults have yet to complete college. Guild Education aims to expand opportunity through education for these individuals: America’s workforce.

Guild Education is known for partnering with leading Fortune 1000 employers like Walmart, Lowe’s, The Walt Disney Company, Discover Financial, and Chipotle. And it offers their workforces a robust employee education benefits platform, including access to a diverse network of non-profit and accredited universities like the University of Arizona, Purdue Global, Southern New Hampshire University, and the University of Central Florida.

So far, 400,000 working adults have leveraged Guild to explore their paths back to school with their company’s support. And through their company’s sponsorship, these employees have access to a variety of education programs, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as certificates, trade diplomas, English-as-a-second-language classes, and high school completion programs.

“Ken and I share a deeply held belief that today’s leading CEOs are uniquely capable of driving social change around the world, but most importantly within their own company, for their employees and their families,” said Guild Education CEO & Co-Founder Rachel Carlson. “This new financing and Ken’s partnership will further advance our mission to support the 88 million Americans who are in need of reskilling and upskilling in order to compete in the future of work, helping them go back to school debt-free with support from their employer.”

Guild plans to use this round of funding to continue its focus of reaching the millions of Americans who need access to higher education and expand its set of employer and university partnerships, exploring acquisition opportunities, and growing its team to better serve those partners and support more students.

“The role of education in combating income inequality and arming individuals who feel disempowered in society should not be underestimated,” added Chenault. “Rachel’s extensive work in higher education with low-income students gave her the unique insight that much of the American dream is unlocked with access to quality education, which can be transformational. Guild gives corporations the unique opportunity to provide this access to their employees, while increasing talent retention and delivering value to the enterprise. Guild is a company not just with a mission, but also a strong business model and an ability to deliver in ways that will benefit both corporations and society more broadly.”

Walmart partnered with Guild Education to develop Live Better U, which is the education benefits program at the company.

“As the nature of work continues to change, Walmart is fortunate to work with companies like Guild Education to build programs that empower our associates to advance their education debt-free and grow in their careers,” explained Walmart Inc. president and CEO Doug McMillon. “Ken Chenault is a visionary on the role that companies and leaders can play in creating positive change for society, and it is exciting to see him and Guild come together to scale this important work for millions of Americans.”

Emerson Collective, Iconiq Capital and Lead Edge Capital also joined this round along with existing investors, including Workday Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Next Play Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, Felicis Ventures, Bessemer Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, and Harrison Metal.

“To build a more just and equitable society, we need to equip all Americans with the skills to thrive in our changing economy,” commented Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and President of Emerson Collective. “This thoughtful approach to upskilling some of the hardest working people in our country is an effort we are proud to be part of. Guild Education is widening the circle of opportunity and helping usher in a more inclusive economy.”