LearnZillion in the News
Blended Capital: What Happens When Companies Tap Both VCs and Foundations For Funding?
March 24, 2016
The idea for LearnZillion began at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. where co-founder Eric Westendorf, was principal. After watching 6th grade teacher Andrea Smith teach her students what it meant to divide by fractions, Eric wondered, “could powerful learning experiences be captured so that teachers didn’t have to re-invent the wheel every time they taught a standard?” He decided to find out. Working with Andrea and a few other E.L. Haynes teachers, he created a homemade website that featured screencasts of high quality, Common Core lessons. The website worked. Not only could teachers find examples of high quality lessons, but parents and students also benefited from the explanations.
Thanks to a Next Generation Learning Challenge Grant, Eric was able to grow the idea. He teamed up with former classmate and teacher , Alix Guerrier, and together they recruited an initial corps of 20 Dream Team teachers from across the country. The Dream Team grew to 123 the following year. To date, over 500 educators have been a part of the Dream Team. The result is the world’s first open, cloud-based curriculum.
CEO and Co-Founder
Eric incubated LearnZillion at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, in Washington D.C., where he was Chief Academic Officer and principal. While he was principal, E.L. Haynes posted three-year student achievement gains of 50 percentage points in math and 26 percentage points in reading. Each year the school was named a national Silver Award winning school through the federal Effective Practice grant program. Prior to leading E.L. Haynes, Eric founded a non-profit focused on teacher leadership development; was the Assistant Principal of St. Joseph’s School in Harlem, and taught for seven years in North Carolina, New York, and Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Eric holds a Bachelors of Arts in Public Policy from Princeton University, a Masters in Teaching from Brown University, and a Masters in Business Administration from Stanford University. Eric lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and three children. Eric loves to throw and chase Frisbees. His favorite teacher is Joe Kolman, his history teacher and cross country coach in high school.
President and Co-Founder
Alix is a former public school teacher who taught middle school and high school math. Before founding LearnZillion, Alix was a consultant in McKinsey & Company’s Education Practice. His previous work experience also includes directing an after-school program in one of Boston’s public housing projects and working on public housing finance in New York. He currently serves on the boards of Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, DC and the non-profit organization GuideStar USA.
Alix has a Masters in Education from the Stanford University School of Education and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He graduated from Harvard University with an AB in physics. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud product of New Haven Public Schools, and is grateful to his teacher, Jimmy-Lee Moore, for helping him think outside the box.