K12 instructional content platform Newsela has raised $100 million in Series D funding in a round led by new investor Franklin Templeton and existing investor TCV, with participation by Owl Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Waycross Ventures.

The round values the company at $1 billion, according to Tech Crunch.

Launched in 2013, New York City-based Newsela says it has 37 million registered students and 2.5 million registered teachers covering 90% of all US schools. It offers a catalogue of more than 14,000 texts across 20-plus genres, curated from over 175 publishers, including the Associated Press, National Geographic and the Encyclopedia Britannica. All content is adjusted to multiple reading levels, provided along with assessments and lesson ideas.

Newsela said it will use the funding to build and acquire features and content, advance the digitalisation of K12 classrooms, and expand its customer base.

Matthew Gross, founder and chief executive of Newsela, said: “Education leaders are breaking free from the limits of an antiquated marketplace that locks schools into a static, unengaging curriculum while the world continues to change around us. School administrators are taking this opportunity to future-proof their schools, and they’re not looking back.”

Dan Cogan-Drew, co-founder and chief academic officer of Newsela, added: “Even before Covid-19, only half of students reported feeling engaged in school, with a fourth described as actively disengaged. To that end, traditional educational materials have failed us. They leave students unengaged, uninspired, and as a result, unmotivated to learn. Newsela’s foundation lies in creating authentic student learning engagement as the key to academic outcomes.”

Chris Anderson, research analyst and portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton, commented: “The demands of remote learning amplified pre-existing weaknesses in how K12 instructional content is evaluated, procured, and delivered. The widespread shift of traditional classrooms to digital experiences spurred by the pandemic has greatly accelerated the transition from paper-based materials to SaaS solutions already under way.”

Date published: 1 March 2021

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