Interview with Tom Davidson, CEO & Founder, Everfi


Tom Davidson

There are a number of crises related to inequality that are playing out across the country. These inequalities are not new, they have been around for generations, yet the pandemic is shedding new light on these issues. Society is demanding change and a solid plan for a path forward. EVERFI, a Washington, D.C.-based social impact education technology company, offers a unique solution starting with K-12 learners to address the missing layer of education that holds promise in driving ecosystems of change.

EVERFI has been working to solve problems related to social inequality since 2008 and recently announced a $100M commitment to building new and expanding current K-12 courses to address the most important issues that are leading to economic inequality and social injustice. The company identified 12 topic areas it says pose the highest societal risks and established the EVERFI Social Impact Index. The Index includes topics such as financial literacy to diversity, equity & inclusion to health and mental wellness. EVERFI provides annual and five-year metrics to measure its success against each Index category.

“When students learn these critical life skills, they become highly-correlated competencies. However, when they are left unattended, they become highly-correlated crises. This moment in time gives us a tremendous opportunity to empower students with this learning using innovation and technology,” says Tom Davidson, Founder and CEO of EVERFI.

EVERFI’s success -- it has reached more than 43 million learners across K12, higher education, and workplace environments; its courses are used in 1 out of 5 public schools and by more than 7,500 school districts; it enrolls more than 6 million students in its critical skills education annually -- stands out in the education industry. EVERFI recognizes more than 3,100 customers that join the company in fulfilling its mission of filling in the education gaps that exist. Those customers, which include Beyond Meat, Walmart, Kroger, National Football League, National Hockey League, UBS, MassMutual, and more, sponsor the company’s courses in K-12 schools throughout the country, allowing EVERFI to provide those courses at no cost for teachers and schools.

EVERFI’s model has won the company some accolades in 2020 including being recognized by Fast Company as one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies and by Fortune as one of the Impact 20.

Since starting EVERFI, Tom has led the company from a startup to a thriving global organization. A graduate of Bowdoin College, he has been a powerful voice at the intersection of regulation, education, and corporate social responsibility and impact. While a senior at Bowdoin College, Tom ran for the Maine House of Representatives, was elected in an upset, and served three consecutive terms before deciding not to pursue reelection. He served as one of the youngest committee Chairs as Chairman of the Utilities and Energy Committee where he led efforts to expand the wiring of schools and libraries across the state. He introduced and passed major legislation on health policy, government ethics, and economic development. He also served as a senior member of the Taxation Committee and the Banking and Insurance and Business and Economic Development Committees.

It was during his tenure in the state legislature that Tom realized the powerful role the private sector can play in tackling issues affecting the public sector - specifically schools.

Interview questions:

What kind of company is Everfi?

Mission - Can you tell us about Everfi’s founding mission and why the company you’ve built is more relevant today than ever before?

Everfi 2020 - Can you provide a snapshot of Everfi today - # of schools, students, adult learners, strategic partners, etc.

How has this year changed your view of the company and the work you do?

Platform/Content/Data - Tell us about your community engagement platform and how it works in concert with your programs? I know your platform also generates important metrics for customers reflecting the impact of their investments in communities - can you please share more about how this works and why it’s important.

COVID - How was Everfi able to pivot in the delivery of education to students during COVID? Did school districts and teachers weigh in with what they needed and wanted from Everfi?

International - In 2019 Everfi made its first international acquisition. Tell us a little bit about the expansion and how it plays into your overall mission?

Social Injustice and Economic Inequity: $100 Million - In September Everfi announced a $100M, 3 year commitment to address systemic social injustice and economic inequality through free digital education for our nations’ schools. How will this effort work to close the gaps that lead to long-term inequalities?

MassMutual - You recently posted on social media about MassMutual’s long-standing commitment to financial literacy education for middle school children. They have already reached 2Million students with your curriculum and it looks like they are now more committed than ever to continue this impact in more communities nationwide. Can you talk to us about what a program like this really means?

Marquee Investors - Everfi has attracted a range of marquee investors from New Enterprise Associates to Allen & C0 to Bono’s fund. Can you walk us through the institutional investors? You have also included some high profile individual investors including Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt and Richard Branson. Can you highlight how they became interested and some recent additions?

Leadership - What is the role of optimism in the CEO? One of your leadership mantras is dagger in the heart and praise to the back? Can you explain? What are some of the lessons that you have learned from your individual investors?

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