NewSchools raises $12 mln for seed fund

NewSchools has closed $12 million for its seed fund. The fund will invest in edtech ventures. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif. and with offices in Boston and Washington, D.C., NewSchools is a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm focused on public education for underserved students.

PRESS RELEASE

Palo Alto, CA – February 19, 2014 – NewSchools Seed Fund, which sources and supports high-impact education technology entrepreneurs focused on K-12, today announces it has reached its fundraising goal of $12 million. The funds will enable Seed Fund to continue investing in ventures that aim to make education more accessible, engaging and connected.

Seed Fund is one of the most active investors in edtech, having seeded a quarter of all new edtech seed investments in 2013. Seed Fund has already invested in more than 22 ventures, leading 17 seed rounds of financing and co-investing alongside other firms, including Kapor Capital, Rethink Education, Relay Ventures and Accel Partners. The fund has a goal of providing capital and support to 55 edtech ventures by the end of 2015.

“We started Seed Fund to help bring the best technologies to teachers and schools,” Jennifer Carolan, managing director of Seed Fund, said. “Educators and students deserve the same incredible innovation and entrepreneurial talent the consumer web is commanding, and that requires capital. Our portfolio represents the best in class.”

The impact of Seed Fund’s support is extensive: its portfolio companies reach 22 million parents, teachers and students in all 50 states. This includes underserved populations like students with special needs, a segment often overlooked by traditional investors, and English as a second language (ESL) learners.

The Seed Fund investments across focus areas in big data, platforms, classroom tools, digital content and special populations are already having a significant impact including:

* BrightBytes’ data analytics platform, Clarity, is helping 5% of all schools in the U.S. understand the impact of education technology on student learning outcomes.
* Ellevation Education is helping educators in over 200 school districts manage their English Language Learner programs – which supports over 350,000 children across the U.S.
* More than 10,000 teachers register everyday for Newsela, which teaches reading using current news stories geared towards different reading levels.
* Socrative’s formative assessment platform is used by millions of teachers and students to
engage, assess and personalize learning. Socrative has four plus teachers in more than 10% of U.S. schools.
* Over 700,000 students access Nearpod’s interactive presentations in class via iOS, Android or web-enabled devices, every month. Teachers using Nearpod have reported dramatic improvements in the levels of student engagement.
* Almost 95,000 teachers across 20% of U.S. schools use Readworks, a free resource for teachers designed to improve reading comprehension.

“The NewSchools Seed Fund’s knowledge of the ecosystem, expansive network and consistent guidance have been an integral part of our success,” Socrative’s CEO Ben Berte said. “We view the NSVF Seed team as trusted colleagues who share our passion for improving education through thoughtful teaching practices, targeted interventions and sustainable business strategies. This balance of business and mission places them in a valuable position in our investment portfolio.”

Carolan continued: “More than half of our portfolio entrepreneurs are former teachers who
are building solutions to a problem they experienced while teaching. Teachers favorites like Socrative, Newsela, Curriculet, Goalbook and ClassDojo are led by former practitioners who join forces with strong technical talent. These hybrid founding teams can uniquely meet the needs of this underserved but critically important market.”

In 2013, more than $452 million was invested in K-12 edtech start-ups and 59 of those transactions were seed stage. This represents a nearly doubling of seed stage investments in education In the past two years.

To learn more about the Seed Fund visit: http://www.newschools.org/innovation-fund/seed

Entrepreneurs: to submit your idea to Seed Fund visit: http://bit.ly/SubmitYourIdeaToSeed

About Seed Fund:
NewSchools Seed Fund invests in entrepreneurs developing education technology tools, applications, content, and services that will significantly improve education opportunities for all children. The Seed Fund was created to source and seed the most promising early-stage education technology companies and to encourage the growing network of impact investors to support K-12 education technology.

About NewSchools Venture Fund
NewSchools Venture Fund is a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that supports entrepreneurs
who are transforming K-12 public education and providing opportunities for underserved students.
Since NewSchools’ founding in 1998, $248 million has been raised, and invested, in a national portfolio of early-stage ventures, including charter schools, teacher preparation programs, and educational technology companies. These investments have improved the educational outcomes for more than 15 million students.
To learn more, please visit: http://www.newschools.org.

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