K-12 Dealmaking: Agile Investment Acquires LightSail; Meritize, The Graide Network Raise Funds

Contributing Writer

This week kicks off with Agile Investment Group’s acquisition of LightSail, developer of an adaptive reading platform. In addition, educational lender Meritize and The Graide Network, an online writing feedback platform, scored funding.

Agile Investment Acquires LightSail: Agile Investment Group, a technology firm focused on education platforms, has acquired LightSail Education, provider of an adaptive reading platform that aims to help students, classrooms, and school districts exceed their literacy goals, LightSail said in a statement, adding that the company will continue to operate as LightSail Education.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. However, LightSail noted in its statement that “Agile is investing significantly” in LightSail’s platform. In addition, Agile will be rolling out a parent portal shortly and continuing to invest in LightSail’s Antares imprint content for students and schools.

“We are excited to have found the right strategic partner who brings a substantial amount of technical expertise and financial resources to continue the critically important work LightSail set out to do when we launched five years ago,” said Gideon Stein, LightSail’s founder.

Agile’s vice president for North America, Eric Solat, said he had confidence in the platform: “After visiting numerous LightSail schools, we were deeply impressed with the level of student engagement and the success stories we witnessed in classrooms.”

Meritize Raises $6.8 Million: Meritize, an educational lender that uses an individual’s academic data to enhance credit evaluation and expand funding for career-based education, has closed a $6.8 million seed funding round from tech and education-focused investors.

Colchis Capital, Chicago Ventures and Cube Financial Holdings led the investment round with participation from ECMC, College Loan Corporation, University Ventures, City Light Capital, PC Squared and Meritize management, according to the statement.

Meritize said it will use the funding to fuel growth, support sales and marketing, expand the team and continue building its platform.

“We’re excited to partner with Meritize to bring a merit-based approach to financing student education in areas that have demonstrably successful outcomes for students, while also contributing positively to the overall social good,” said Jonathan Strike, partner at Colchis Capital. “Meritize addresses a fundamental gap in our education system at a time when skills-based education is becoming increasingly important, and effectively training and re-training our workforce is critical for maintaining the health of our economy and citizens.”

The Graide Network Raises Seed Round: The Graide Network, an online platform that provides feedback on K-12 student writing via remote teaching assistants, has raised over $1 million in a Series Seed financing led by Chicago-based Network Ventures.

The Chicago-based company said it will use the funding “to accelerate the development of its feedback and grading technology and expand access for students across the country to benefit from timely, personalized feedback.”

The Graide Network is designed to support the development of K-12 students’ writing and critical thinking skills through its on-demand network of remote teaching assistants known as “Graiders,” who collaborate virtually with K-12 classroom teachers to grade and provide feedback on formative writing assignments, according to the company.

“The Graide Network’s technology allows schools to tap into a pool of highly qualified Graiders that schools otherwise wouldn’t be able to access on their own,” said Jeff Maters, managing director of Network Ventures.  “This round of funding will enable The Graide Network to continue to build out its feedback platform in order to achieve its mission of making students better writers and improving learning outcomes.”

IMAX Program Raises $13.5 Million: IMAX Program, an India-based ed-tech startup that partners with schools and provides learning materials and processes to support learning, has raised $13.5 million in funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, LGT Impact Ventures and existing investor Aspada Investments, according to recent press reports.

TeachPitch Surpasses Crowdfunding Goal: TeachPitch, a free, cloud-based learning platform that aims to help teachers and schools identify the best online resources available, has raised more than $450,000 in an equity crowdfunding round, Crowdfund Insider first reported. The company surpassed its initial crowdfunding funding goal of 300,000 British pounds ($419,000).

London-based TeachPitch said on its crowdfunding page that it is raising funds “to accelerate its expansion in China, grow its tutoring program and develop a mature machine learning and AI technology.” The company recently launched an online tutoring program that aims to tutor one million students in China.

Apex Learning Curriculum Integrated into ASSIST Platform: Apex Learning a digital curriculum provider, has integrated into the ASSIST Education cloud-based program, according to a statement. Apex Learning’s digital curriculum will be a primary resource for schools using ASSIST, an integrated education management system for K-12 schools.

“We wanted to provide educators with a rigorous curriculum that students would find engaging, which is why we selected Apex Learning to be a primary resource available for our K-12 schools using the ASSIST platform,” said Yvonne Ruwe, ASSIST Education’s senior director of channel sales.

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