Fostering a Generation of Independent Thinkers

Certell is a nonprofit digital learning company focused on creating lifelong learners who can process information thoughtfully and engage constructively with others. In other words, teach people how to think—not what to think.


Unbiased content

Virtually every module of our World and American History curriculum includes topic-relevant mini-lessons on race, social organization (class), and other issues pertinent to that module’s topic. We believe this is the appropriate way to assure that our content addresses important and controversial subjects without becoming partisan or ideological.

Dynamic learning for all

This digital format—paired with an e-reader that works in poor bandwidth environments—allows all teachers and students to have access to quality curriculum.

Our curriculum is designed so students can do the reading and consume the multimedia at home, and then come to class ready for discussion. This method allows the digital tools to convey skills and knowledge, giving teachers the time to provide context, wisdom and motivation.


Award-winning pop culture curriculum for high school

Poptential™ is a family of free high school social studies course packages that pair pop culture media with engaging digital storytelling for effective, dynamic learning by today’s digital-native students. Poptential™ is used by more than 28,000 teachers in 50 states.

Dynamic learning for home schools, employers and prisons

SensibleSchool™ offers a growing array of digital courses, tools and personalized instruction in social studies, civics and personal finance to learners in home schools, workplaces and prisons. SensibleSchool™ has provided Civics education to more than 300 inmates, and is planning to expand its inmate enrichment to include liberal arts programs.

Dynamic learning for higher education

Huntington Junior College (HJC) is a comprehensive, open-admission nonprofit institution committed to preparing graduates for successful employment and lifelong learning. The college is ranked among the top six medical assistant schools and dental schools in West Virginia, and has robust programs in substance abuse counseling and business management.


Certell, Inc. is funded by donors who believe all teachers and students should have access to quality curriculum. Our donors do not influence or control the content that we produce and distribute.


  • Fred Fransen

    Fred Fransen, Co-founder and CEO

    Fred’s career has been dedicated to improving the ability of people around the world to live prosperous and free lives by increasing their educational opportunities. Fred earned a Ph.D. in Social Thought from University of Chicago.

  • Mike Lindell

    Mike Lindell, Chief Operating Officer

    Mike has spent nearly two decades helping educational and nonprofit organizations grow. Mike earned a bachelor’s degree from the Indiana University School of Business.

  • Lisa Roberts

    Lisa Roberts, Senior Vice President of Initiatives

    Lisa has spent her career guiding fundraising and development for nonprofits. An adjunct professor at Indian River State College, Lisa earned an MBA from Jacksonville University and a bachelor’s degree from University of North Florida.

  • Esteban Gonzalez

    Esteban Gonzalez, Economist, Curriculum and Outreach

    Esteban serves as Certell’s economics curriculum expert. Based in Indiana and Mexico City, Esteban earned a master’s degree in political economy from Kings College, London.

  • Julie Smitherman

    Julie Smitherman, Director of Content Management

    Julie was a high school social studies teacher for eight years before joining Certell to help craft its social studies curriculum. Julie earned a master’s degree in economics from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in social studies teacher education from Purdue University.

Board of Directors

Dennis A. Trinkle, Indianapolis, IN

Jay Utterback, Indianapolis, IN

Frederic Fransen, Fishers, IN

Board Members
Sheree Speakman
Stephen Farris
Dominique Lazanski