How we got here

Image
Fred Fransen’s vision for Certell was birthed from a long-standing passion to find new, innovative solutions to our country’s educational challenges. That passion was ratcheted up substantially in 2012 when Fred began advising several philanthropists to direct grant funds to Common Sense Economics for Life (CSE), a digital media project of the Stavros Center at Florida State University. The growth of CSE made it apparent that a new organization was needed to coordinate content creation, marketing, and distribution of CSE along with Common Sense Government and other courses in development. Certell became that organization.
    2014:

    Common Sense Education International (CSEI) non-profit founded to promote the Common Sense Education (CSE) project and expand to include other courses built by other content creators.

    2015:
    CSEI merged with the Beautiful Tree Foundation (BTF), which had been formed in 2013 to promote research and encourage the development of high quality, low cost education for the poor in the developing world. At the time of the merger, the joint entity was renamed Certell, which stands for Certified eLearning for Life.
    2016:
    Over 15,000 students reached (up from 5,000 in 2014)
    2017:
    Over 57,000 students reached, plus the addition of our American History course.
    2018:
    Over 175,000 students reached.

    What we believe

    Image

    Students don’t learn like they used to. The lecture/note taking model was invented almost a thousand years ago, and with immediate and unlimited access to virtually any kind of information students desire, attention spans have gone down while demand for high production value has gone up. This reality creates a challenge for seasoned teachers as well as new ones. With textbook budgets getting slashed and the time to find new and relevant content preciously short, teachers are struggling to keep and refresh the passion that made them want to become teachers in the first place. All of this means our education industry needs a new model, teachers need to feel empowered and invigorated, and students need to be engaged in the classroom the same way they are engaged everywhere else. To learn more, visit Why Certell.

    What we’re doing

    Image
    We’ve created world-class course curriculum, each with corresponding eBooks, that are relevant, media rich and can be used out of the box or adapted into a teacher’s current material. All courses are built for the way students learn and are designed to hold their attention. Whether your school uses a Learning Management System (LMS) like Moodle or Canvas, or you use a more “manual” approach, all certifiably original curriculum and eBooks (for you and your students) are available in multiple formats and at no cost to you.

    How we got here

    Image
    Fred Fransen’s vision for Certell was birthed from a long-standing passion to find new, innovative solutions to our country’s educational challenges. That passion was ratcheted up substantially in 2012 when Fred began advising several philanthropists to direct grant funds to Common Sense Economics for Life (CSE), a digital media project of the Stavros Center at Florida State University. The growth of CSE made it apparent that a new organization was needed to coordinate content creation, marketing, and distribution of CSE along with Common Sense Government and other courses in development. Certell became that organization.
      2014:

      Common Sense Education International (CSEI) non-profit founded to promote the Common Sense Education (CSE) project and expand to include other courses built by other content creators.

      2015:
      CSEI merged with the Beautiful Tree Foundation (BTF), which had been formed in 2013 to promote research and encourage the development of high quality, low cost education for the poor in the developing world. At the time of the merger, the joint entity was renamed Certell, which stands for Certified eLearning for Life.
      2016:
      Over 15,000 students reached (up from 5,000 in 2014)
      2017:
      Over 57,000 students reached, plus the addition of our American History course.
      2018:
      Over 175,000 students reached.

      What we believe

      Image

      Students don’t learn like they used to. The lecture/note taking model was invented almost a thousand years ago, and with immediate and unlimited access to virtually any kind of information students desire, attention spans have gone down while demand for high production value has gone up. This reality creates a challenge for seasoned teachers as well as new ones. With textbook budgets getting slashed and the time to find new and relevant content preciously short, teachers are struggling to keep and refresh the passion that made them want to become teachers in the first place. All of this means our education industry needs a new model, teachers need to feel empowered and invigorated, and students need to be engaged in the classroom the same way they are engaged everywhere else. To learn more, visit Why Certell.

      What we’re doing

      Image
      We’ve created world-class course curriculum, each with corresponding eBooks, that are relevant, media rich and can be used out of the box or adapted into a teacher’s current material. All courses are built for the way students learn and are designed to hold their attention. Whether your school uses a Learning Management System (LMS) like Moodle or Canvas, or you use a more “manual” approach, all certifiably original curriculum and eBooks (for you and your students) are available in multiple formats and at no cost to you.

          MEET THE TEAM

      Meet the team

      Good people, committed to their craft as well as our mission, are vital to Certell. And because we believe in leading through serving, we are committed to helping every teacher, every student, everywhere. Whatever we can do to help you help your students, we’re here.
       
      FRED FRANSEN, PH. D. CEO • World Traveler • Scholar

      Fred is a national authority on philanthropy and a thought leader in the field of philanthropic advising. He has written for, or been quoted in, papers in 33 states, reaching an audience of more than 50 million readers, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune. Fred specializes in higher education projects and is involved in numerous initiatives related to the transition to digital learning, as well as the application of technology to education around the world, including projects in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as the United States.

      Fred has worked in the intersection of education and philanthropy since getting his Ph.D. in Social Thought from the University of Chicago in 1996.

      In 2008, as a direct result of his work at The Philanthropy Roundtable, Fred began focusing full-time on Donor Advising, Research & Educational Services (DA•R•ES), LLC, a national, fee-for-service organization dedicated to providing support and assistance to strategic-minded philanthropists. With the launch of Certell, Fred is returning to the operational side of education and philanthropy.

      He also has a passion for travel. Work and pleasure have taken him to six continents, more than 60 countries, and all 50 states. He’s traveled by plane, train, and automobile, in addition to horse, camel, kayak and canoe. He’s been high up in the Himalaya, and as far off as Mongolia. Along the way he’s learned that people everywhere are eager to learn, and that technology has the ability to level the educational playing field between the extremes of the slums of Nairobi and the ivory towers of New England. He’s determined to make it happen sooner, rather than later.

      Fred is married to his soul-mate and match, and together they have a daughter in college and an 18-year-old son running a successful IT business.

       
       
      RYAN KELLER COO • Woodworker • Teacher

      Ryan joined Certell in April 2016 with a background in education and instructional design. Ryan spent four great years as a Life Science teacher at a local high school, where he helped to start a digital credit recovery and accrual program for students. The program caught the eye of a local college and they hired him as an Instructional Development Manager working with both on-campus, online, and corporate education programs. Ryan continued his love for teaching as an adjunct instructor and as a trainer for the College’s Corporate Education Partnerships Division.

      In addition to teaching, Ryan has also developed multiple high school and college-level online learning programs. He earned a master’s degree in leadership development of nonprofit organizations from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as well as a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in plant and turf science.

      Ryan continues to teach several leadership courses through Indianapolis-area institutions. In addition, he leads strategic-planning sessions and peer-mentoring groups, and teaches online courses with organizations throughout Indiana. Ryan consistently hones his knowledge of leadership, pedagogy, technology and instructional development to create unique and exciting products and opportunities. His goal is to help students, teachers and administrators increase their skill sets in communication, learning, leadership and instruction.

      Ryan is married to the love of his life, Nichole, and they have three beautiful children together. He intentionally lives some 80 miles from the Certell offices in the small, rural town of his childhood. Ryan and his wife want their children to grow up with an appreciation for the slow-paced life, including the peaceful sound of crickets at night and lots of family who spoil them rotten. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys woodworking, horticulture, construction, amber ales and bonfires.

       
       
      GABE CHEEK Director of Technology • Teacher • Outdoorsman

      Gabe has been with Certell as an outside consultant since 2015 and became an employee in March of 2017. Gabe has had a love of technology from a very early age and became “famous” (i.e. infamous) for tearing apart any of his parents broken devices to repair them. In the 5th grade he got his first computer and promptly took it apart. Before completing high school, he had already become Microsoft Certified.

      In his spare time Gabe serves as a minister for the deaf, and also teaches American Sign Language classes and volunteers much of his time toward projects supporting the Sign Language community. Gabe and his wife enjoy spending time together hiking the great outdoors.



      GAY LYNN HILL Project Management Director • Gift Giver • Creator

      Gay Lynn has a firm belief that there is no greater experience than working for an organization that embraces her love of children and assisting them in developing the thinking skills they will use throughout their lives. As a certified project manager, she feels fortunate to have the capacity to organize, plan and manage projects for an organization that’s naturally aligned with her passions.

      Gay Lynn holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University and a PMP from the Project Management Institute as well as a background that includes experience in payroll, staffing, recruiting, training and software customization. This allows her the ability to understand and improve the processes a small nonprofit like Certell can face.

      Outside of work, you’ll likely find her picking up materials for a current craft project or thinking up new craft projects to give as gifts, believing that one of life’s greatest moments is when someone can lift up someone’s spirits with a homemade gift.

       

          MEET THE TEAM

      Meet the team

      Good people, committed to their craft as well as our mission, are vital to Certell. And because we believe in leading through serving, we are committed to helping every teacher, every student, everywhere. Whatever we can do to help you help your students, we’re here.
      Image
      FRED FRANSEN, PH. D. CEO • World Traveler • Scholar

      Fred is a national authority on philanthropy and a thought leader in the field of philanthropic advising. He has written for, or been quoted in, papers in 33 states, reaching an audience of more than 50 million readers, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune. Fred specializes in higher education projects and is involved in numerous initiatives related to the transition to digital learning, as well as the application of technology to education around the world, including projects in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as the United States.

      Fred has worked in the intersection of education and philanthropy since getting his Ph.D. in Social Thought from the University of Chicago in 1996.

      In 2008, as a direct result of his work at The Philanthropy Roundtable, Fred began focusing full-time on Donor Advising, Research & Educational Services (DA•R•ES), LLC, a national, fee-for-service organization dedicated to providing support and assistance to strategic-minded philanthropists. With the launch of Certell, Fred is returning to the operational side of education and philanthropy.

      He also has a passion for travel. Work and pleasure have taken him to six continents, more than 60 countries, and all 50 states. He’s traveled by plane, train, and automobile, in addition to horse, camel, kayak and canoe. He’s been high up in the Himalaya, and as far off as Mongolia. Along the way he’s learned that people everywhere are eager to learn, and that technology has the ability to level the educational playing field between the extremes of the slums of Nairobi and the ivory towers of New England. He’s determined to make it happen sooner, rather than later.

      Fred is married to his soul-mate and match, and together they have a daughter in college and an 18-year-old son running a successful IT business.

       
      Image
      RYAN KELLER COO • Woodworker • Teacher

      Ryan joined Certell in April 2016 with a background in education and instructional design. Ryan spent four great years as a Life Science teacher at a local high school, where he helped to start a digital credit recovery and accrual program for students. The program caught the eye of a local college and they hired him as an Instructional Development Manager working with both on-campus, online, and corporate education programs. Ryan continued his love for teaching as an adjunct instructor and as a trainer for the College’s Corporate Education Partnerships Division.

      In addition to teaching, Ryan has also developed multiple high school and college-level online learning programs. He earned a master’s degree in leadership development of nonprofit organizations from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as well as a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in plant and turf science.

      Ryan continues to teach several leadership courses through Indianapolis-area institutions. In addition, he leads strategic-planning sessions and peer-mentoring groups, and teaches online courses with organizations throughout Indiana. Ryan consistently hones his knowledge of leadership, pedagogy, technology and instructional development to create unique and exciting products and opportunities. His goal is to help students, teachers and administrators increase their skill sets in communication, learning, leadership and instruction.

      Ryan is married to the love of his life, Nichole, and they have three beautiful children together. He intentionally lives some 80 miles from the Certell offices in the small, rural town of his childhood. Ryan and his wife want their children to grow up with an appreciation for the slow-paced life, including the peaceful sound of crickets at night and lots of family who spoil them rotten. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys woodworking, horticulture, construction, amber ales and bonfires.

       
      Image
      GABE CHEEK Director of Technology • Teacher • Outdoorsman

      Gabe has been with Certell as an outside consultant since 2015 and became an employee in March of 2017. Gabe has had a love of technology from a very early age and became “famous” (i.e. infamous) for tearing apart any of his parents broken devices to repair them. In the 5th grade he got his first computer and promptly took it apart. Before completing high school, he had already become Microsoft Certified.

      In his spare time Gabe serves as a minister for the deaf, and also teaches American Sign Language classes and volunteers much of his time toward projects supporting the Sign Language community. Gabe and his wife enjoy spending time together hiking the great outdoors.

       
      Image
      GAY LYNN HILL Project Management Director • Gift Giver • Creator

      Gay Lynn has a firm belief that there is no greater experience than working for an organization that embraces her love of children and assisting them in developing the thinking skills they will use throughout their lives. As a certified project manager, she feels fortunate to have the capacity to organize, plan and manage projects for an organization that’s naturally aligned with her passions.

      Gay Lynn holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University and a PMP from the Project Management Institute as well as a background that includes experience in payroll, staffing, recruiting, training and software customization. This allows her the ability to understand and improve the processes a small nonprofit like Certell can face.

      Outside of work, you’ll likely find her picking up materials for a current craft project or thinking up new craft projects to give as gifts, believing that one of life’s greatest moments is when someone can lift up someone’s spirits with a homemade gift.

       

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Image
      1)
      How are you able to offer all of this stuff for free?
      Certell was started by someone who believes wholeheartedly in philanthropy. Our courses are free because we are funded by people who’ve devoted their lives to philanthropy and believe that the right education will go a long way towards positively influencing the next generation.
      2)
      Are you guys Democrats or Republicans?
      Neither. Certell is bipartisan by design. Our approach is to ask meaningful questions that get students thinking to help them develop their own world view and make up their own mind about important topics. We want every student to be able to answer the “why” questions, not just the “what” questions.
      3)
      What new courses are you going to be offering down the road?

      We are continually expanding our course curriculum offering, and the next one currently in development is World History. If you have a subject you believe is important and would like to see us consider it, feel free to send us a message.

      4)
      Do your courses meet national and state standards?

      Yes. We align and map our course materials to AP, Common Core, and the NCSS C3 Framework standards. If you have any questions about your particular state, please send us a message.

      5)
      Do your donors have any influence on the content of your curriculum?
      No. Our donors choose to be anonymous and have no influence over any of the content, lesson plans, quizzes, tests, multimedia and eBook materials we offer.
      6)
      What’s the catch? You’re going to sell my data... right?
      No. We know what it’s like to get bombarded with unwanted emails, and we have too much respect for teachers and the teaching profession to sell or give your information to anyone. Period.
      7)
      I’m a school administrator. How can you help me?
      We love helping administrators serve their teachers through school-wide adoption of our eBooks. We’re also very interested in what curriculum/courses you feel we should be developing next, as well as forming partnerships to provide whole districts with materials.
      8)
      Why haven’t I ever heard of you before now?
      Up until about a year ago, our footprint was relatively small and we were learning the ropes of how best to function as a nonprofit. Thanks to several partnerships, strategic marketing efforts, and word of mouth, we are growing at a faster pace and quickly becoming the curriculum of choice for thousands of teachers and school administrators across the country.
      9)
      How can I donate?

      Philanthropic passion for education comes in all sizes, and we are grateful for those who come to our website or hear about us through their teacher friends and want to make a financial contribution, whatever its size. Again, we thank you for helping us making common sense curriculum that really works.

      10)
      I’m not a teacher, but I’d love to get involved. How can I do that?
      If you know any teachers who would benefit from our curriculum and eBooks, please tell them about us (word of mouth is how we grow best). We also conduct focus groups from time to time and need folks to gather and help us host local groups in your area. And finally, we need seasonal copy editors, programmers, graphic designers, videographers and interns when we’re developing new curriculum or refreshing existing courses.
      Image

      Frequently Asked Questions

      1)
      How are you able to offer all of this stuff for free?
      Certell was started by someone who believes wholeheartedly in philanthropy. Our courses are free because we are funded by people who’ve devoted their lives to philanthropy and believe that the right education will go a long way towards positively influencing the next generation.
      2)
      Are you guys Democrats or Republicans?
      Neither. Certell is bipartisan by design. Our approach is to ask meaningful questions that get students thinking to help them develop their own world view and make up their own mind about important topics. We want every student to be able to answer the “why” questions, not just the “what” questions.
      3)
      What new courses are you going to be offering down the road?
      We are continually expanding our course curriculum offering, and the next one currently in development is World History. If you have a subject you believe is important and would like to see us consider it, feel free to send us an email at whatsnext@certell.org.
      4)
      Do your courses meet national and state standards?

      Yes. We align and map our course materials to AP, Common Core, and the NCSS C3 Framework standards. If you have any questions about your particular state, please send us a message.

      5)
      Do your donors have any influence on the content of your curriculum?
      No. Our donors choose to be anonymous and have no influence over any of the content, lesson plans, quizzes, tests, multimedia and eBook materials we offer.
      6)
      What’s the catch? You’re going to sell my data... right?
      No. We know what it’s like to get bombarded with unwanted emails, and we have too much respect for teachers and the teaching profession to sell or give your information to anyone. Period.
      7)
      I’m a school administrator. How can you help me?
      We love helping administrators serve their teachers through school-wide adoption of our eBooks. We’re also very interested in what curriculum/courses you feel we should be developing next, as well as forming partnerships to provide whole districts with materials.
      8)
      Why haven’t I ever heard of you before now?
      Up until about a year ago, our footprint was relatively small and we were learning the ropes of how best to function as a nonprofit. Thanks to several partnerships, strategic marketing efforts, and word of mouth, we are growing at a faster pace and quickly becoming the curriculum of choice for thousands of teachers and school administrators across the country.
      9)
      How can I donate?

      Philanthropic passion for education comes in all sizes, and we are grateful for those who come to our website or hear about us through their teacher friends and want to make a financial contribution, whatever its size. Again, we thank you for helping us making common sense curriculum that really works.

      10)
      I’m not a teacher, but I’d love to get involved. How can I do that?
      If you know any teachers who would benefit from our curriculum and eBooks, please tell them about us (word of mouth is how we grow best). We also conduct focus groups from time to time and need folks to gather and help us host local groups in your area. And finally, we need seasonal copy editors, programmers, graphic designers, videographers and interns when we’re developing new curriculum or refreshing existing courses.

      Created By Teachers. For Teachers. To Empower Teachers.

       
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      call: 317-870-1050
      email: support@certell.org