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Published in Print: April 14, 1999, as Business



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Capital Infusion: Advantage Schools Inc., a Boston-based operator of charter schools in seven states, has secured a new round of $25 million in private venture capital designed to allow it to open 25 new schools in the next 18 months.

Advantage opened its first schools in Rocky Mount, N.C., and Phoenix in 1997. Last fall, it opened charter schools in Chicago; Worcester and Malden, Mass.; San Antonio; Jersey City, N.J.; and Kalamazoo, Mich.

The new financing, announced last month, comes from Chase Capital Partners of New York City, the venture capital arm of Chase Manhattan Corp., and Nassau Capital LLC of Princeton, N.J., which invests in new businesses and real estate on behalf of Princeton University's endowment.

The Advantage model includes a back-to-basics curriculum and a code of civility for students.

Advantage received its first round of venture capital in 1997 from Bessemer Venture Partners of Wellesley, Mass., and Fidelity Ventures of Boston, the venture capital arm of Fidelity Investments. A second round of financing came from Bessemer and Fidelity as well as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm.

Advantage schools currently enroll some 4,500 students. The company plans to open 10 new schools this coming fall in cities including Charlotte, N.C.; Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia; Washington; and Dallas, Houston, and Midland, Texas.

New Focus: The Tesseract Group Inc., formerly Education Alternatives Inc., is continuing its image makeover with a move of its headquarters from Bloomington, Minn., to Scottsdale, Ariz. The relocation takes effect May 1.

Tesseract changed its name last year. Education Alternatives was best known for its controversial contracts to manage public schools in Baltimore and Hartford, Conn. Those school districts dropped EAI amid squabbles over finances and the effectiveness of its classroom efforts.

Tesseract is rebuilding itself as a manager of private preschools, charter schools, and postsecondary schools. The company operates 40 schools serving more than 6,000 students.

John T. Golle, Tesseract's chairman and chief executive officer, said the move makes sense because the company is now generating 90 percent of its revenue in Arizona, a state that has strongly encouraged the creation of charter schools.

Tesseract expects to operate 45 schools, serving 9,000 students in preschool through postsecondary education, by the fall.

--Mark Walsh

Vol. 18, Issue 31, Page 9

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