Newsela Inc. Raises $4.1 Million in Series A Investment Led by Owl Ventures

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Burgeoning reading company’s news-as-nonfiction learning platform attracts more than 20,000 new teachers and students per school day.

"Newsela represents both one of the most promising and one of the most rapidly adopted K12 learning platforms I have ever seen," said Richard Sarnoff, a KKR executive and former Chairman of the Association of American Publishers.

Newsela, the education technology company that is using nonfiction to transform K-12 literacy, announced today it has raised $4.1 million in a Series A investment round led by Owl Ventures. The Knight Foundation and a number of individual investors, including Ron Beller and Jennifer Moses, Shawn and Brook Byers, Joannie and David Fischer and Umang Gupta, also participated in the financing round.

The Series A was preceded by a financing round from top leaders in education publishing and media: William Ethridge, John Katzman, Josh Lewis, Brian Napack, Richard Sarnoff, Andrew Snyder and David Westin.

Newsela became one of the fastest growing K12 technology startups last year by giving teachers a way to instruct reading across a range of abilities and subject areas. By adapting news articles from the most trusted media sources to various reading levels, Newsela engages all students in the same topic, whether they are below-grade or advanced readers. Teachers who discovered Newsela were eager to share their discovery via Twitter, at conferences and workshops, in staff lunchrooms and on their blogs. Such authentic endorsements helped Newsela reach more than a million students before the school year concluded.

“Nobody had to explain Newsela to teachers. They got it right away, loved it and were asking for more,” said Tory Patterson, managing partner at Owl. “Rarely do you see such perfect product-market fit in K12. We’re excited to help them grow and build out the features that teachers are clamoring for them to add.”

Newsela will deploy the new round of funding to expand its content coverage in areas such as sports and science, produce curriculum materials for teachers and schools, add features that provide richer feedback to students and analyze students’ and teachers’ use of Newsela to develop ever more effective learning tools.

"Newsela represents both one of the most promising and one of the most rapidly adopted K12 learning platforms I have ever seen," said Richard Sarnoff, a KKR executive and former Chairman of the Association of American Publishers. "Its ability to create classroom engagement around up-to-the-minute written material–at varying reading levels–is transformational."

Newsela was originally backed with seed funding from the NewSchools Venture Fund and Kapor Capital, two investment funds with a track record of investing in K12 education focusing especially on underserved student populations. NewSchools and Kapor have each made a follow-on investment in Newsela’s Series A financing.

ABOUT NEWSELA INC.:Newsela unlocks the written word by publishing daily news articles at five reading levels to engage students in grades 3-12 in high-interest topics from immigration and diplomacy to drones and animal extinction. Launched in 2013, Newsela articles have been read more than 5 million times by students from more than 80 countries, placing Newsela among the most quickly adopted educational technologies in history. When students read articles and take Common Core-aligned quizzes online, they are developing the critical nonfiction literacy skills that empower them to take part in conversations about complex issues, and prepare them for academic and professional success. To read more, visit http://www.newsela.com and follow @newsela.

ABOUT OWL: Owl Ventures is a San Francisco Bay Area-based venture capital fund that invests in the world’s leading education technology companies. The firm backs entrepreneurs with solutions that seek to meaningfully drive improvement in student achievement. Its founding team hails from Catamount Ventures where they invested in several leading education technology companies including MasteryConnect, PresenceLearning, TenMarks, Revolution Foods, Declara and EdSurge. For further information please visit http://www.owlvc.com.

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