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Fintech Disruptor Stride Funding Breaks Barriers as it Closes $12M Series A

Stride Funding, founded by CEO Tess Michaels and backed by women-led VCs Firework Ventures and GSV Ventures, races ahead with its student-centric mission

Fintech Disruptor Stride Funding Breaks Barriers as it Closes $12M Series A

Award-winning education funding startup, Stride Funding, announced the closing of a $12 million Series A financing round led by Firework Ventures, co-founded by Brigette Lau and Ashley Bittner. Other investors include impact investors such as Juvo Ventures and Graham Holdings — alongside previous investors GSV Ventures, Slow Ventures, and Sinai Ventures. Several industry and academic leaders and serial entrepreneurs also co-invested in the round.

“Stride is powered by the fundamental belief that equitable education financing should be based on students’ potential and opportunity, not their past” says Michaels. “We help young adults underserved by the traditional credit markets gain access to educational programs that improve their economic and career outcomes.”

Since closing its Seed round, Stride has increased the capital committed to fund students 50-fold to over $50 million, with capital providers such as Silicon Valley Bank seeking to finance hundreds of millions in additional funds. Stride has accomplished this despite the odds — less than 1% of total funds raised by fintechs has gone to female-founded companies. Both Stride’s Seed and Series A rounds were led by women – Deborah Quazzo of GSV Ventures and Brigette Lau of Firework Ventures, respectively.

“We are pleased to back an extraordinary entrepreneur generating impact by realigning EdTech and FinTech,” says Lau. “We view Study Now, Pay Later products as the future of educational funding, as they provide much-needed downside protection to students, while aligning the incentives of schools and investors with student outcomes. Stride is purposefully shaping this space and we’re thrilled to join them in this journey!”

One student proving the value of Stride’s model is Nikki Brooks, who leveraged Stride’s funding options to pay her tuition and expenses towards her Physician Assistant degree. “Stride Funding changed the course of my life,” says Brooks. “I struggled to get access to affordable funding to go to school without a cosigner, but Stride believed in my potential and funded my education. Their team’s personalized support has been invaluable and I’m so excited to play a role in our nation’s healthcare system after graduation.”

Michaels has set her aims higher. “Closing our Series A is a significant milestone, but we are just getting started on our quest to make the $130 billion private student loan market more equitable, flexible, and above all – a runway for economic mobility.”

Donald E. Graham, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Graham Holdings Company (formerly the Washington Post Company), will be one of the many investors monitoring Stride’s path forward. “It’s heartening to see that the majority of investors in Stride are women venture capitalists and angels,” said Graham. “Tess Michaels has beaten the odds while breaking barriers in raising capital. We remain confident that the she will continue this success as she strives to expand educational access.”

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