K-12 Dealmaking: Microschool Company Raises $20M; IXL Acquires Curiosity Media

K-12 Dealmaking, EdWeek Market Brief

A company that offers small-group “microschools,” Prenda, raised $20 million aimed at helping grow its network in additional states, the company announced.

The Series B funding round was led by Reddit co-founder and investor Alexis Ohanian’s venture capital firm Seven Seven Six, with participation from VC Learn Capital, Modern Venture Partners and Peak State Ventures.

Prenda partners with state-accredited institutions to provide tuition-free education to K-8 students through microschools, which are run by community-based “guides.” Guides lead small groups of students as they learn in informal locations, such as libraries, homes and dance studios.

The company was founded in 2013 after CEO Kelly Smith volunteered to teach students computer programming after school at a local library in Mesa, Ariz., where the company is headquartered.

More than 300 microschools are currently operating in six states, the company reports. Prior to the Series B, Prenda raised more than $26 million from investors, including Y Combinator, AngelList, Learn Capital, and Eric Ries.

IXL Learning makes sixth acquisition in five years. K-12 learning platform IXL Learning announced it has acquired Curiosity Media, the company behind language learning services such as SpanishDict, ingles.com, and Fluencia.

The acquisition is IXL Learning’s sixth in the past five years. IXL acquired Rosetta Stone in March 2021, Wyzant in February 2021, and Vocabulary.com in March 2020. Prior to those deals, IXL scooped up Education.com in November 2019 and ABCya in October 2018.

Adding Curiosity Media will help the company further diversify its offerings and complement its existing language learning products, CEO Paul Mishkin said in a statement.

“Curiosity Media has done an outstanding job at bridging the space between the impact of languages and enthusiasm of learners, and our aim is to expand its reach even further,” Mishkin said. “The addition of Curiosity Media increases IXL’s investment in giving students more ways to discover, experience, and enjoy new languages.”

Curiosity Media CEO Chris Cummings said the deal will help Curiosity “continue to serve millions of people and develop new ways to personalize learning. We have a shared love of education and innovation and are thrilled to bring our teams together.”

Special education software company buys LiftEd. Central Reach, a New Jersey-based maker of autism software for special education teachers and caregivers, recently announced it acquired ed-tech company LiftEd.

LiftEd, based in Brooklyn, offers cloud-based software designed to help therapists, educators, and paraprofessionals improve learning outcomes for students with autism or related intellectual developmental disorders.

In its announcement, Central Reach said the deal will allow it to add LiftEd’s software to its existing Autism and IDD Care Platform for Special Education, which is aimed at helping IEP teams manage curriculum and data about student progress.

Indian mentorship company raises seed fund. Exprto, an India-based ed-tech company that offers a mentorship network for students, raised Rs 5 crore, or roughly $641,000, in a seed round led by GSF and Angel List USA, according to reports. Agility Ventures, Lets Venture, and Supermorpheus also participated.

The funding is aimed at helping Exprto grow its existing experience sharing and mentorship network for students, which uses AI to match mentees with either one-on-one mentoring or a cohort group.

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