We’re in the midst of a growing youth mental health crisis that U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, calls the “defining public health crisis of our time.” There has never been a more important moment to accelerate Daybreak’s mission to build a world where every young person benefits from mental health support. When I started this journey 4 years ago, determined to re-imagine youth mental healthcare after my younger brother’s struggle with depression, I could not have imagined the scale of the impact Daybreak would have in such a short amount of time.
That’s why today we’re excited to announce our $13M Series B fundraise led by Union Square Ventures (USV), with participation from Lux Capital, and existing investors including Lightspeed, Maven, and Y Combinator. USV has built a well-deserved reputation as one of the best investment firms in the world, and we are thrilled to have Rebecca Kaden join the Daybreak board. Rebecca brings a deeply curious, bold, and thoughtful perspective - she was immediately able to hone in on Daybreak’s potential and push our thinking. Deena Shakir leads Lux’s investment in the round and brings her passion for mental health and pediatrics.
At each fundraising round, companies are given a brief moment to share something with the world. Today, I’d like to remind everyone what Daybreak stands for. I will also briefly reflect on our progress and learnings in the past 18 months since our Series A and share the journey ahead.
What Daybreak Stands For
1. Every child deserves mental health support that empowers them to reach their full potential. Mental health support is not just about treating kids in crisis. It’s about giving every child the tools to succeed: at school, at home, and in life. It is essential that children are taught these tools and skills at an early age, as the benefits compound over time; so much positive impact can and must be had before reaching adulthood. And because every child is unique, mental health support must be deeply personalized to each child’s unique needs. At Daybreak, we develop and provide personalized teletherapy programs to help each child reach their full potential.
2. Partnering with the public school system is the only way to reach children equitably. 91% of the 54M school-aged children in the U.S. are enrolled in public schools and a disproportionate number of them are high-need students. The only way to overcome the equity gaps driven by financial, cultural and geographic barriers is to partner with the incredible leaders of our school systems and to embed access to mental health support as part of every child’s education. Just like the National School Lunch Program was created to combat hunger and improve childhood nutrition, our schools are uniquely positioned to solve this youth mental health crisis. At Daybreak, we partner with public school districts to give all students access to high-quality, affordable, and culturally competent care that meets their unique needs.
3. Enabling mental health coverage through health insurance is essential for accessibility and affordability. More than 95% of children in the U.S. have health insurance, and about 40% of those children are covered through Medicaid. Mental health coverage and reimbursement by both private and public insurers is critical to ensuring that every family can afford mental health support for their children while also ensuring that school districts do not need to bear the full financial burden of mental health support for students. At Daybreak, we partner with Medicaid and Commercial health plans to ensure that every child can receive mental health support without financial barriers.
Reflections on our progress and learnings since the Series A
Over the last 18 months since we signed our Series A term sheet, our team has made incredible progress. Here are 3 of the accomplishments I’m most proud of and one associated learning with each:
1. We grew our impact by nearly 10x. We’ve grown from 7 school district partnerships in California, to 62 school districts across 6 states - now representing more than 1 million enrolled students. And we’ve built Commercial and Medicaid health plan partnerships that cover 9M lives nationally, allowing even more students to benefit from our services at each of the districts we partner with.
The learning: creating a new market (like school-based teletherapy) can be challenging, and there will always be doubters anytime something new enters the world. But when you build something that solves a critical problem and pursue it with conviction, the rest will take care of itself.
2. We grew efficiently and creatively. We spent less than half of our Series A capital and stayed ‘default alive’ over the last 18 months, cutting our monthly burn by nearly 50% from its peak - all without layoffs and while continuing to grow rapidly.
The learning: It doesn’t take hundreds of millions of capital to build a great business. It takes hard prioritization, creativity, and teammates who are willing to dig deep to find non-obvious solutions to problems. At Daybreak we’re proud of doing more with less.
3. We built a world-class team that has made Daybreak an incredible place to work. I couldn’t be more proud to work alongside the hard-working, humble, creative, and fun-loving group of people we call “Daybreakers”. The numbers speak for themselves: we have an employee NPS of 70, and 97% of employees feel their contributions make a direct impact on our mission.
The learning: Mission matters. When you find amazing people who are united behind an important mission, the sky is truly the limit. Thank you, Daybreakers! Each of you is critical to our mission.
Daybreak will continue to take the hard road to innovate and create a future where every child has access to quality mental health support. We will invest all of our time, money, and energy into creating the world we believe should exist:
A world where every child and family has access to free, personalized, and effective mental health support through their schools.
A world where all children feel happy, healthy and equipped with the skills they need to be successful in school, life, and work.
Our Series B capital will accelerate our ability to invest in the key ingredients of our mission:
- Expanding our school district partnerships nationwide to reach all students equitably.
- Growing our health insurance partnerships to ensure affordability and financial sustainability for both school districts and families.
- Creating the best place to work for clinicians by hiring, supporting and investing in mental health clinicians who are passionate about making a difference in kids’ lives.
- Developing personalized mental health programs that meet each child where they are in their journey.
If you’re excited about joining us on our mission, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Onwards!
The State of Youth Mental Health & Our Schools
How schools are responding to the rising demand for student mental health services.