K-12 Dealmaking: Riverside Insights Acquires SEL Organization; Parallel Learning Raises $20M Series A

Staff Writer
K-12 Dealmaking, EdWeek Market Brief

Private equity-backed assessment and analytics firm Riverside Insights has acquired Aperture Education, which provides social-emotional assessments to K-12 districts.

The deal adds Aperture’s DESSA assessments, which are based on the CASEL framework for social and emotional learning, to Riverside’s current offerings including Iowa Assessments, the CogAt Cognitive Abilities Test and Woodcock-Johnson IV assessment system. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Riverside is backed by Alpine Investors, a San Francisco-based private equity firm that reports over $7 billion in assets under management.

Just over a year ago, Aperture acquired student engagement software company Ascend, and at the time reported serving nearly 1 million students and 42,000 educators in nearly 500 schools.

“With Riverside’s strong research tradition blended with Aperture’s SEL product expertise and vision, we are excited to continue our commitment to creating insights to understand the whole learner,” Riverside Insights CEO Rajib Roy said in a statement. Together, we believe that through our assessments, we can make a greater impact in the lives of students and educators.”

Math-focused Walch Education merges with writing platform BoomWriter. Mathematics-focused Walch Education merged with transatlantic student writing platform BoomWriter Media, the companies announced, and adopted the name BW Walch. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal combines BoomWriter’s collaborative writing and publishing platform with Welch’s offerings, which are largely focused on customizable mathematics materials. The combined company reports having more than 1 million registered users.

“This is a perfect merger of capabilities,” Walch CEO Al Noyes said in a statement. “Walch has been a trusted provider of quality educational resources for over 80 years and most recently launched the Curriculum Engine, a cloud-based tool to help teachers and schools take control of and personalize their curriculum.

His company is now adding “engaging and effective applications for reading and writing in the classroom to our portfolio and joining forces with the talented BoomWriter team to help improve educational outcomes worldwide,” he said.

BoomWriter Founder Chris Twyman said the merger will also allow the companies to get ahead of the increasing amount of consolidation in the edtech space.

“With so many start-ups in the EdTech industry there will be inevitable consolidation and lots of elimination of fledgling companies,” Twyman said. “Bringing Walch and BoomWriter together gets us ahead of the curve and together we provide a greater portfolio of engaging educational solutions.”

BoomWriter recently acquired two U.K.-based companies prior to the merger, Squirrel Learning and Axe Edge, to expand operations and services.

Both deals were funded by revenue and a “significant investment” from Scale Capital Partner and SimpleTV Chairman Alexander Elorriaga, the companies said in the merger announcement.

South African study-by-text startup raises $2M. A South African edtech firm that offers a study-by-text service for students with unreliable internet access has raised $2 million in seed funding. FoondaMate, founded in 2020, offers an AI-powered chat bot to provide students with study materials via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

According to reports, the funding will be used to grow FoondaMate’s international reach, including in Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Brazil, and expanding the company’s product and engineering teams. The company reports the chatbot currently has more than 400,000 users in 30 counties. The seed round was led by U.K.-based venture capital firm LocalGlobe. Emerge Education, FirstCheckAfrica’s Odunayo Eweniyi, Future Africa’s Iyin Aboyeji, LoftyInc, Luno and Justworks also joined in. FoondaMate’s first backer was the accelerator XX.

FoondaMate’s founders started the company to help high school students who have limited or no access to the internet the ability to access study materials by engaging with the chat bot on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, since those services are often available via cell networks at affordable rates. Students can ask for the definition of words, download practice tests, search for information from the internet and get help with math equations.

Psychoeducational platform Parallel Learning raises $20M Series A. Parallel Learning, a digital health company that offers psychoeducational services to students online, announced it raised $20 million in a Series A funding round aimed at fueling its national expansion.

Tiger Global, the New York-based VC firm that’s previously backed companies like Carvana and Peloton, led the around, which was also joined in by Obvious Ventures, Barry Sternlich’s JAWS and existing investor, Vine Ventures. The funding round comes five months after Parallel raised $2.8 million for its launch.

Parallel Learning is focused on speeding up the time it traditionally takes for a student to be evaluated and receive care for issues related to learning, behavior, language and mental health. It offers both psychological evaluations as well as ongoing support, including tutoring, executive function coaching, counseling and speech therapy, provided by licensed psychologists, learning specialists, behavioral health therapists and speech therapists in each state.

In addition to selling its platform to school districts, Parallel also works directly with families seeking evaluation and care.

“Our mission is to work hand-in-hand with school districts and families to deliver the highest quality developmental services to students across the nation,” Diana Heldfond, founder and CEO of Parallel Learning, said in a statement. “With 20 percent of children challenged by learning and thinking differences, we’re committed to offering lasting, effective and affordable solutions to help those students succeed in and out of the classroom.”

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