November 10, 2022
MINNEAPOLIS — Seeking to support impact-driven, early-stage postsecondary education and employment companies, ECMC Group’s Education Impact Fund led the seed funding round for Clusiv, an online vocational training and accessibility platform for individuals who are blind or visually impaired (B/VI). Clusiv raised $2.25 million in financing to continue developing its team and platform to train B/VI job seekers at scale while helping employers create inclusive workplaces.
“Nearly 70% of the blind and visually impaired workforce is unemployed, mostly due to the lack of support systems like training and workplace accommodations that will help our community reach economic mobility,” said Lukas Simianer, co-founder and CEO of Clusiv. “We are thrilled to be supported by organizations who align with our mission and are prepared to help us scale our solution to help people who are blind and visually impaired across the country.”
Clusiv is the world’s first digital training platform built by the blind and for the blind, to create a workforce pipeline of B/VI professionals. Clusiv’s platform gives organizations the ability to add qualified, inclusive hires while delivering a seamless and accessible onboarding experience, as well as provide opportunities for existing employees to gain new skills.
The platform has already had positive impacts on those in the B/VI community. Texas and Colorado were the first two states to adopt the use of Clusiv, and their clients have learned critical job skills from the comfort of home where COVID-19 and transportation would have otherwise prevented training. This early success quickly drew interest from companies like ECMC Group that aim to support accessible education programs and workforce readiness for underserved and under-resourced populations.
“ECMC Group aims to empower underserved learners to achieve their academic and professional goals through its philanthropy and impact investments,” said Steve Deutsch, director of impact investing for ECMC Group. “Clusiv’s innovative platform embodies that mission by making career training and upskilling accessible for the blind and visually impaired—a community that is historically underemployed and lacking opportunities for education and advancement.”
In the coming months, Clusiv will use this funding to grow adoption of its platform in the United States with states and institutions focused on vocational rehabilitation and professional development for B/VI job seekers. Clusiv also will begin its mission of removing barriers for B/VI impaired learners in K-12 and higher education so that younger blind generations are equipped to shatter accessibility barriers and eventually create a digital landscape that is truly inclusive.
Jobs for the Future (JFF), Strada Education Network and WGU Labs at Western Governors University, Techstars, The Fund Austin and 550 Capital also participated in the fundraiser.
Clusiv is engineering the future of work for accessibility with a training platform for individuals who have faced barriers to access and equity in the modern workforce. Learn more about Clusiv at https://clusiv.io.
About ECMC Group Education Impact Fund
The ECMC Group Education Impact Fund (EIF) is a $250M+ corporate venture fund that invests in mission-aligned, impact-driven and financially scalable early- and growth-stage companies that are focused on improving access and outcomes in postsecondary education and employment. In addition to direct investments, EIF also invests in and partners with other mission-driven education investors. EIF is a part of ECMC Group, a nonprofit corporation focused on helping students succeed by creating, providing and investing in innovative educational opportunities. To learn more, visit www.ecmcgroup.org/what-we-do/education-impact-fund.