From "EdTech Digest" | Interview with Victor Rivero | Published November 14, 2023
A serial entrepreneur dedicated to improving education in America, Jamie Rosenberg left his mergers and acquisitions career to launch AdoptAClassroom.org, one of the first crowd funding sites on the Internet. Jamie grew AdoptAClassroom.org to one of the largest education philanthropies in the United States funding teachers in 30% of schools, and improving the learning environment for over 3.5 million children.
Jamie’s current and second venture is ClassWallet, a leading end-to-end digital solution to manage funding within school systems. The platform combines funds disbursement, e-commerce, a reloadable debit card and tracking in a fully integrated manner designed for maximum simplicity and accountability.
ClassWallet’s initial goal was to create a simple technology that would easily allow teachers to get the funds they needed for their classrooms.
After creating his first venture, he discovered a unique insight – getting funding to teachers and schools, and tracking it is much harder than it should be. For many years, manual processes have stood in the gap to ensure compliance and controls when making purchases and paying reimbursements.
That’s why they invented their patented digital wallet technology. "We understand the great balancing act of getting funding into the hands of those who need it while maintaining compliance and control. We also appreciate the great strain you work under as you continue to manage more with less staff and less support than ever before," says Jamie.
The company has evolved from those roots to an industry-leading financial technology platform for both education and state and local agencies as an efficient and nimble digital wallet technology. Today, ClassWallet serves over 6,200 schools, 20% of all U.S. State Agencies and serves over 4.1 million students. It’s been five years since we last interview Jamie here. But since that time they’ve added a few claims to fame and have flourished like never before.
How has ClassWallet evolved since we last spoke in 2018?
Fundamentally, ClassWallet remains the same company. We are focused on enabling our clients to disburse public funds quickly and compliantly to the correct recipients to be spent for the intended purpose and at scale. We automate every step of the purchasing and reimbursement lifecycle. But we are bigger now and support more agencies and departments than ever before.
"We are focused on enabling our clients to disburse public funds quickly and compliantly to the correct recipients to be spent for the intended purpose and at scale."
We’ve expanded to a team of more than 300 people, and because of their dedication, we achieved three-year revenue growth of 1,217%, which landed us at No. 477 on Inc. Magazine’s 2023 list of fastest-growing private companies in America.
We genuinely believe in the next three to five years, if you receive a benefit from a public agency, whether it be a scholarship, stipend, grant or some sort of budget allocation, ClassWallet will be your digital wallet solution, because we simplify compliance to ensure public funds have maximum impact at a fraction of the cost and times.
Where is ClassWallet in use/how much spending is ClassWallet enabling today?
ClassWallet is used by state agencies and school districts across 33 states. This year, ClassWallet will manage at least $1.3 billion through our digital wallet solution, more than 100% growth year over year.
ClassWallet recently received a significant investment round — $95 Million — what do you plan to do with it?
With the growth funding, we plan to execute on strategic initiatives like expanding our sales, marketing and senior management teams; product improvements including enhanced business intelligence and machine learning to create greater efficiencies for ClassWallet clients; and expanding our markets.
It looks like ClassWallet has expanded beyond the classroom to support many types of government agencies – what’s the reason behind the expansion? Is education still at the heart of your business?
Yes, absolutely. We expanded support to a variety of government agencies such as Early Childcare, Career and Workforce Development to name a few. ClassWallet is all about getting public funds to the right people and ensuring they’re used for the intended purposes.
ClassWallet remains focused on meeting the needs of students, educators and school districts. ClassWallet is used in classrooms in thousands of schools across 30 states and helps school and school districts track and reconcile classroom supply and professional development purchases, easily and compliantly. As a result, educators can get what they need when they need it in order to meet the personalized learning needs of their students in the most effective manner possible.
"…educators can get what they need when they need it in order to meet the personalized learning needs of their students in the most effective manner possible.’
The pandemic still has many students playing catch up – how does ClassWallet help them recover from learning loss?
The NWEA’s recent report – Education’s Long COVID: 2022-23 achievement data reveal stalled progress toward pandemic recovery – revealed the pandemic continues to have a lasting effect on students, with achievement gains falling short of pre-pandemic levels. The U.S. government allocated $190 billion in federal funds to try and address the educational effects of the pandemic, and while that money has helped some, many school districts have not been able to capitalize on the available funds to the fullest extent.
Reports have surfaced about difficulties in disbursing the funds in the most impactful way and tracking how the funds are spent. Outdated and cumbersome processes can create delays, confusion and frustration. ClassWallet solves for all of these issues by enabling clients to disburse funds quickly and compliantly at scale, while automating every step of the purchasing and reimbursement lifecycle. ClassWallet ensures compliance, mitigates potential fraud and tracks spending for easy approvals and audits.
Do you have any success stories or case studies you can share?
We have many success stories, but one we are particularly proud of is our work with Montgomery Public School District in Alabama.
Before ClassWallet, paperwork and inefficient procurement processes kept teachers from spending their state-allocated funds for educational supplies:
- Fewer than one in five dollars were being spent early in the year.
- Requisition took weeks and mountains of paperwork for their 58 schools and departments serving over 26,500 students and 2,100 teachers.
- Montgomery Public Schools turned to ClassWallet to manage its State Classroom Instructional Supply fund. ClassWallet enabled easy shopping online from approved vendors, automated purchase orders and payments, and tracked and verified that purchases complied with state regulations for educational supplies.
In its first year using ClassWallet, Montgomery Public Schools:
- Reduced purchase orders from 3,772 to 37
- Increased funds allocated from $1.06 million to $1.24 million
- Used 42% of its available budget in Q1, a more than 2x increase over the 18% used one year prior
- Arthur Watts, Chief School Financial Officer for Montgomery Public Schools, stated "ClassWallet is almost a Godsend."
Various state education programs have been a political hot potato in recent years, has the back-and-forth affected ClassWallet?
We are a technology partner with our clients. ClassWallet can support any program or policy established by federal, state and local agencies – our clients, the program administrators, take the regulations and set them as guideposts within the digital wallet to simplify purchases, monitoring and compliance for their intended purpose. The most important thing for ClassWallet is to support our clients to maximize the positive impact for the people they serve.