K-12 Dealmaking: MindSpark Learning, Frontline Education Make Acquisitions

Staff Writer

Professional development provider MindSpark Learning has acquired STEM literacy and workforce development solutions provider Couragion, it was announced this week.

The companies collaborated in launching STEMpath, a 24-credit grad-level computer science certification program, in 2019. The program aims to boost the capability and diversity of STEM and computer science teachers.

The combination of the two companies and their technology platforms will offer customers and partners more accessibility and more equitable solutions on a global scale, the announcement says.

Couragion seeks to highlight diverse role models and “build awareness of what’s possible and has demonstrated promising outcomes specifically for underrepresented and highly-impacted students,” Couragion co-founder and former CEO Melissa Risteff said in a statement. “MindSpark’s global footprint will expand Couragion’s reach, accessibility, and influence on the education ecosystem.”

Risteff is joining MindSpark as its chief strategy officer, a role in which she will work across the organization on growth initiatives, new product development, and providing “visionary leadership” for Couragion and STEMpath, the announcement said.

Frontline Education Acquires Hayes Software Systems. Frontline, a provider of school administration software, has acquired Hayes Software Systems from Transition Capital Partners. Hayes Software Systems provides solutions for asset management and inventory control with integrated help desk capabilities for K-12 schools. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Hayes currently supports school districts in 40 states. Its products support asset tracking and inventory planning for district technology, physical assets, textbooks and other instructional materials.

Frontline CEO Mark GRuzin said that Hayes work in asset management and inventory control “addresses critical operational needs for schools, especially today, with remote and hybrid models putting more technology and instructional materials in circulation.”

Transition Capital Partners was the majority owner of Hayes Software Systems and Thoma Bravo is the majority owner of Frontline Education.

College Prep Nonprofit Acquires PD Provider. Community Catalyst Partners has entered into an agreement to acquire the International Studies Schools Network, which provides professional development to teachers in public high schools aimed at helping students become globally competitive and college-ready, Community Catalyst Partners announced.

The acquisition of ISSN from the Asia Society Center for Global Education will bolster the support Community Catalyst Partners provides to partner communities, the Hartford, Conn.-based nonprofit said.

The acquisition is expected to complete July 1, after which “core members” of ISSN’s leadership team will join Community Catalyst Partners, the announcement says.

The addition of ISSN creates opportunities to bring community stakeholders together and assist those coalitions in achieving goals like spurring economic growth and making postsecondary education attainable and affordable, Community Catalyst Partners President and CEO Gene Chasin said in a statement.

“As we work with communities to assess, align and marshal resources to provide an entire range of services and supports that lead to achievement for students, we also need to incorporate a range of capacity-building resources for educators,” Chasin said. “That’s where we see the services developed by the ISSN as a perfect fit as we work hand-in-hand to create an environment of success for students and educators alike.”

Tony Jackson, the Asia Society vice president of education and director of the society’s Center for Global Education, said the acquisition will help extend ISSN’s reach to even more teachers and students in communities across the U.S. and the world.

Nearly two-thirds of ISSN students are from low-income families, three-quarters are students of color, and over one-fifth are English language learners, Community Catalyst Partners said.

ISSN will continue to operate as a fee-for-service model through which districts, schools, and communities can contract for professional services and resources.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SaaS-based student data platform gets $70 Million Investment. Global growth investor Summit Partners has led a $70 million total investment in Formative, a web-based platform that allows teachers to see students’ work in real time while giving students feedback, tracking students’ progress on learning standards, and collaborating around common assessment data, Formative announced Tuesday.

Existing investors Emerson Collective, Fika Ventures, MaC Venture Capital, and Rethink Education also participated in the investment, which will help enhance Formative’s products, increase teacher and administrator support, and expand the firm’s reach globally, Formative said.

“As a classroom teacher, I helped my students achieve record-breaking results by providing daily formative assessments, targeted intervention and quicker feedback loops,” Formative co-founder and CEO Craig Jones said in a statement. “We founded Formative to apply this approach to the benefit of students around the world, with a goal to double the effectiveness of every teacher on our platform.”

Jones continued: “This has been an incredibly difficult year for schools, but the silver lining is that educators have found new and better ways to reach their students that we believe will last well beyond the pandemic.”

Formative says most U.S. school districts use the platform, with over 4 million students engaging with the platform in the past year.

“We believe Formative has a rare combination of rapid, capital-efficient growth, innovative products, delighted customers and a humble, mission-driven team,” Tom Jennings, a managing director at Summit Partners, said in a statement. “We … expect our partnership to help Formative accelerate product enhancements and the continued global expansion of the business.”

Course Hero Acquires Company That Publishes Popular Literature Resources for Teachers and Students. Course Hero, an online learning platform that offers upwards of 60 million course-specific study resources as well as tutoring help for college students, has acquired LitCharts, the creator of literature resources used by 50 million students and teachers, Course Hero announced June 10.

This follows Course Hero’s acquisition of artificial intelligence-based math solver Symbolab in October.

Ben Florman and Justin Kestler, the original editors of SparkNotes, created LitCharts, which includes side-by-side summaries, color-coded thematic analysis, and interactive data visualizations to make it easier to learn and teach literature.

LitCharts covers more than 2,000 literary texts across prose and poetry, defines hundreds of literary terms, and providers modern English translations of every Shakespeare play and poem, the announcement says.

“The popularity of LitCharts among not just students, but educators, reflects the rigor and responsibility with which the LitCharts team creates new ways to unpack and explain complex texts,” said Course Hero co-founder and CEO Andrew Grauer said in a statement. “This is about doing more than simply enabling students to access the academic discourse. It’s about designing resources that actually strengthen understanding and confidence as they dig into increasingly complex texts.”

LitCharts will continue to operate as an independent brand.

Follow EdWeek Market Brief on Twitter @EdMarketBrief or connect with us on LinkedIn.

See also: