Los Angeles, CA — Today, the Dream Center Foundation announces its intent to acquire the Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corporation [EDMC], one of the largest providers of post-secondary education in the United States. The acquisition will include EDMC’s South University, Argosy University and The Art Institutes locations currently enrolling new students.
“For three years, the Dream Center Foundation has actively explored educational partnerships or acquisitions that might enhance our ability to provide quality education to scores of Americans through our Dream Center in Los Angeles and via our partners, nationwide,” said Dream Center Foundation managing director Randall Barton. “We believe this is the opportunity we have been looking for, and it aligns perfectly with our mission which views education as a primary means of life transformation.”
University operations will be managed by Dream Center Education Holdings, LLC under newly named CEO and Co-Chairman Brent Richardson. Mr. Richardson is a veteran in higher education administration who comes to Dream Center Education Holdings, LLC having most recently been a principal participant in the transformation of Grand Canyon University from a fledgling Phoenix-based residential school of 1,000 students to one of the largest residential and online institutions of higher education in America.
“Education is inherently humanitarian. Nothing betters the life of an individual more quickly than affordable, accessible and quality education,” said Richardson. “We look forward to taking these institutions to higher heights while simultaneously expanding their humanitarian reach.”
As part of the acquisition, the Dream Center Foundation will be converting the EDMC schools into not-for-profit institutions with the intent of investing a percentage of revenue into humanitarian and charitable programs supported by the Dream Center Foundation in Los Angeles and throughout the United States.
“Education has always been at the heart of the Dream Center Foundation’s mission,” said Barton, who also serves as Executive Chairman of Dream Center Education Holdings. “While the Dream Center will continue to operate these institutions as they have operated, we will bring to them an expanded vision; they will be community-focused, not-for-profit institutions coupling their quality programs with a humanitarian culture that values social responsibility.”
The transaction is contingent upon a series of operational and other customary closing conditions as well as regulatory and accrediting approval via various bodies. An affiliate of the Najafi Companies will be the principal financier of the transaction with additional financing provided by the Richardson Family Trust.
“EDMC has been serving the educational needs of students for more than 100 years and as our almost a half million alumni will attest, we have improved countless lives. I am so pleased that this transaction will continue that commitment, and will – in fact – expand it,” said Mark McEachen, president and chief executive officer of EDMC. “The dedication of our faculty and staff together with the vision of the DCF Board makes the future look very bright.”
The Dream Center Foundation funds programs providing educational opportunity, emergency food and medical services, transitional housing for homeless families, youth and veterans as well as support for victims of human trafficking through its principal partner, the Dream Center Los Angeles. Each month more than 50,000 people are assisted in Los Angeles alone, and countless others through its network in 41 states and 21 countries.
Education Management Corporation is one of the largest providers of post-secondary education in the United States, based on student enrollment and revenue, with a total of 102 locations in 31 U.S. states. The company offers academic programs to students through campus-based and online instruction, or through a combination of both. The company is committed to offering quality academic programs and strives to improve the learning experience for its students. Its educational institutions offer students the opportunity to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees and certain specialized non-degree diplomas in a broad range of disciplines, including business, culinary, design, education, fashion, health sciences, information technology, legal, media arts, and psychology and behavioral sciences.
Brent Richardson has, since 1988, has been at the leading edge of innovation in education. His Education Management Group provided custom curriculum and instruction materials to 3,500 schools before being sold to Simon and Schuster. He was a pioneer in digital learning technology through his Private Network corporation which serviced the healthcare and automotive sectors before it was acquired in 1998, and his National School Conference Institute was behind Learning 24/7 and Masters Online, which sold in 2003. In 2004, Richardson became the majority shareholder in a struggling school named Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. At the time of the investment the school had approximately a 1,000 students and annual revenue of $25 million and it had lost almost $16 million. Despite the challenges, all of the investors believed that there was great value in a university with a traditional campus and an online presence. Under Mr. Richardson, and his partner’s leadership, by 2009 the University had over 27,000 students enrolled with earned revenue in excess of $25 million. Today, the revitalized Grand Canyon University is a public company with growing enrollment, a state-of-the-art campus, and a market value of over $2 billion.
Najafi Companies is an international private investment firm based in Phoenix, Arizona, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, and holdings in sectors including consumer, media, technology, industrial, energy and real estate. The firm makes highly-selective investments in companies with strong management teams across a variety of industries, often in areas undergoing rapid technological transformation. The firm takes a long-term view on its investments and focuses its efforts to create value through growth and superior performance. Najafi Companies funds its investments with internally generated capital, not through a fund. Free from the restrictions of a fund, the firm is able to move quickly and decisively when investing, and with no requirements to return capital to outside partners, Najafi Companies is able to make investments that create maximum value for the long-term.