SEATTLE — April 9, 2020 — NextStep, a mobile-based training and job placement company aiming to radically expand the supply of qualified Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) to address the nation’s caregiver shortage crisis, today announced a $3.6 million investment round from health and education technology-focused investors including Springrock Ventures, JAZZ Venture Partners, Learn Capital’s LearnStart fund, and the managing directors of Pioneer Square Labs.
“Our health care system was already facing profound skills gaps well before the outbreak of COVID-19, and now those shortfalls are in sharp relief as our nation’s health care workers fight this global pandemic,” said Chris Hedrick, CEO of NextStep. “By tapping the potential and strengths of displaced talent, we can bolster the health care workforce and offer millions of workers a pathway to sustainable and fulfilling careers—at a time when our country needs it most.”
With historic surges in unemployment stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, displaced workers in retail, service and hospitality and other industries are facing acute economic hardship as they file for unemployment and look for work. Demand for health care jobs continues to grow even as the broader economy enters recession, as the nation’s health care system faces unprecedented strain.
NextStep’s unique program, free to students and supported by employers, is helping to retrain workers in distressed industries as Certified Nursing Assistants, the most in-demand role in health care. Through courses delivered on mobile devices in 10-15 minute modules that can be consumed during a commute or after hours, displaced workers with experience in service and hospitality roles can retrain for jobs in the health care industry with higher earning and promotion potential.
Through a pilot in the state of Colorado approved by the state’s Board of Nursing, NextStep has already enrolled more than 2,000 learners. Graduates are placed in jobs with NextStep’s employer partners. The company is also contributing directly to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, through its National COVID-Ready Caregiver Certificate, which trains CNAs, home health aides, and other frontline caregivers on essential health guidelines to reduce the risk of infection and safely assist with caregiving during the COVID-19 response. More than 200 health care employers nationally have signed up in the first week since the certificate’s launch, extending access to over 10,000 caregivers.
“NextStep is positioned to make an enormous difference both for job seekers and businesses that hire CNAs,” said Kirsten Morbeck, managing director of Springrock Ventures. “NextStep is at the center of addressing one of the biggest challenges facing America–the caregiver shortage crisis.”
“NextStep is led by an experienced and nimble executive team that knows how to create technology-enabled solutions to meet our healthcare workforce needs,” said John Harris, managing partner at JAZZ Venture Partners. “I can’t think of any company that is better suited to having a positive impact on society and businesses in a world shaped both by the COVID crisis and an aging population.”
The investment round was led by Springrock Ventures, and Morbeck will join the NextStep board of directors.
About NextStep: NextStep is a mobile-based training and placement startup, aiming to radically expand the supply of qualified CNAs to address the nation’s caregiver shortage crisis. Offerings include our state-approved, mobile-first CNA course featuring 140+ skills developed by leading experts and continuing education for CNAs. For more information, visit nextstep.careers.
About Springrock Ventures: SpringRock Ventures focuses on investing in the next cycle of healthcare innovation. Based in Seattle, SpringRock funds entrepreneurial teams that are solving important problems in disruptive ways. For more information, visit springrockventures.com.
About JAZZ Venture Partners: JAZZ Venture Partners invests in companies that extend the boundaries of human performance — improving how we live, learn, work, play, and experience the world. JAZZ seeks breakthroughs at the intersection of cutting-edge neuroscience and digital technology that are increasingly influencing the human experience, such as augmented reality, immersive gaming, artificial intelligence, and closed-loop human-computer systems. JAZZ portfolio companies are unlocking human potential in broad markets, including health, mind-body wellness, accelerated learning, training, sports, entertainment, and the enterprise. For more information, visit jazzvp.com.
About Pioneer Square Labs: Pioneer Square Labs is a Seattle-based startup studio and venture firm that creates, launches, and finances technology startups. For more information, visit psl.com.