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Capella Education Company acquires innovative education start-up Sophia

The parent company of Capella University will leverage Sophia to help meet its goals of extending access to higher education and providing a pathway to lowering the cost of education

MINNEAPOLIS, April 16, 2012Capella Education Company (NASDAQ: CPLA), a provider of online post-secondary education primarily through its wholly owned subsidiary Capella University, announced today that it has acquired the remaining interest in Sophia Learning, LLC – a first-of-its-kind social teaching and learning platform. In January 2011, Capella Education Company became a majority investor in Sophia, which provides tens of thousands of free credible academic tutorials in math, science, English and more, taught in a variety of ways.

"Over the last year, we have watched Sophia evolve from a promising start-up to a leader in social education and a valued resource for students and teachers," said J. Kevin Gilligan, Capella's chief executive officer and chairman. "This investment is part of our long-term strategy for Capella. It aligns with Capella's mission of extending access to education on a broad scale, puts critical tools in the hands of our learners and faculty to improve learning outcomes, and provides an innovative pathway to lower the cost of higher education. Additionally, Sophia provides us with a sandbox for innovation and experimentation in the key areas of social teaching and learning, assessment and adaptive learning."

"Through this investment, we will be able to provide Sophia with the additional support and institutional resources it needs to become a key conduit for students seeking access to credible academic content offered at no cost," Gilligan concluded.

Sophia launched in public beta in March 2011 and doubled the number of academic tutorials on the site in the first six months. The platform provides tens of thousands of lessons, organized by subject, that are rated for quality and evaluated for academic soundness. The site currently has users from over 170 countries, representing 5,000 schools and universities.

"Capella's investment in Sophia allows us to continue our goal of providing students with access to many teachers offering many ways to learn," said Steve Anastasi, interim CEO of Sophia. "We are meeting students where they are in the digital space by providing quality content at no cost in an ad-free environment. We are customizing education, one student at a time. With Capella as a partner, we will continue to innovate and make education affordable and accessible."

Anastasi, formerly Sophia's chief technology officer, recently assumed the role of CEO from founder and former CEO Don Smithmier. Smithmier will continue in an advisory role while Anastasi assumes executive responsibilities.

About Capella Education Company

Founded in 1991, Capella Education Company is a leader in online education, primarily through our wholly owned subsidiary Capella University, a regionally accredited online university*. In addition, Capella Education Company offers online education through Resource Development International Ltd. (RDI), an independent provider of United Kingdom (UK) university distance learning qualifications.

Capella University offers online graduate degree programs in business, counseling, education, health administration, homeland security, human resource management, human services, information technology, nonprofit management and leadership, nursing, psychology, public administration, public health, public safety, and social work; and bachelor's degree programs in business, information technology, nursing, psychology, and public safety. These academic programs are designed to meet the needs of working adults, combining high quality, competency-based curricula with the convenience and flexibility of an online learning format. Currently, Capella University offers 46 graduate and undergraduate degree programs with 143 specializations. More than 37,000 learners were enrolled as of Dec. 31, 2011. For more information about Capella Education Company, please visit For more information about Capella University, please visit or call 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552).

Resource Development International Ltd. partners with a number of the top 100 universities in the UK to develop, validate and deliver UK higher education qualifications, predominantly through online courses. For more information, please visit

Sophia is a first-of-its-kind social education platform that offers students many ways to learn by making free, credible, academic content available to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. The site offers tens of thousands of tutorials created by hundreds of teachers and experts that are taught in a variety of ways. The platform further enhances the learning process by offering quizzes, assessing learning preferences and providing learning paths. For more information, visit

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