K-12 Dealmaking: Sesame Workshop Launches VC Arm; PowerSchool Buys Interactive Achievement

Contributing Writer

Recent deals in the K-12 market include not only moves by huge players like McGraw-Hill Education, but also activity by Sesame Workshop, PowerSchool, and EverFi. Here’s a breakdown of mergers, acquisitions, fundraising and other deals in the school space.

Sesame Workshop: The creator of Sesame Street has partnered with Collaborative Fund to focus on early-stage startups in the areas of education technology, health and nutrition and social, cultural and family development, according to Sesame Workshop.

Sesame Ventures, Sesame Workshop’s new investment arm, will provide portfolio companies with access to Sesame Workshop’s staff, research, and decades of child development and expertise, the company said.

The fund, Collab+Sesame, will invest up to $1 million in each startup and support companies in future rounds of financing; the fund will back companies aligned with Sesame Workshop’s mission of “helping kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder,” according to Collaborative Fund’s blog.

The news was widely reported on Feb. 1, with various new outlets stating the fund has raised $10 million.

CWIST: The Baltimore-based ed-tech firm has raised $1.25 million in financing, including $300,000 from Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and $950,000 from SFP Capital, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. CWIST founder Chris Sleat told the newspaper that his firm hopes to raise $1.5 million in its Series A financing round.

Founded in 2013, CWIST—kids’ challenges with a twist—is a free, parent-led motivational system where kids embark on scripted adventures with the goal of earning a wish once they’ve completed a project.

PowerSchool Acquires Interactive Achievement: PowerSchool Group LLC, a provider of K-12 technology solutions, acquired Interactive Achievement, which is focused on standards-based instructional assessment and analytical solutions for school districts.

The acquisition “enhances PowerSchool’s solutions for teachers, providing digital classroom capabilities and enabling a single user experience for managing attendance, grading, assignments, assessments and analytics,” according to a statement. PowerSchool said the acquisition will enable the company deliver new opportunities for customers to measure achievement, utilize rich content, and improve student learning outcomes in the K-12 educational community.

The PowerSchool Student Information System (SIS) has more than 40 million users including students, parents, teachers and administrators. Established in 1997, PowerSchool was owned by Apple from 2001 to 2006, when it was acquired by Pearson. Last year PowerSchool was acquired by Vista Equity Partners.

EverFi Partners With Mary Kay: Cosmetics company Mary Kay Inc. has partnered with ed-tech company EverFi to provide a digital curriculum focused on healthy relationships to middle school classrooms. The new digital educational platform will define strategies for cultivating and maintaining healthy relationships, according to a statement.

Washington, D.C.-based EverFi, which focuses on providing digital education for wellness and prevention, is backed by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Twitter founder Evan Williams.

The EverFi Education Network is powered by more than 1,200 partner organizations across all 50 states and Canada and has certified over 12 million students.

In Asia’s ed-tech market:

McGraw-Hill Education India to Offer Textbooks via IGNITOR: McGraw-Hill Education India and IGNITOR, a platform for delivering “next-generation” digital textbooks, are partnering to provide the McGraw-Hill Education eBook catalog for universities and colleges across India, according to The Economic Times.

The article noted the two companies expect to reach more than 1,000 universities and colleges across India. IGNITOR is the core product of India-based Edutor Technologies.

China’s Tencent Holdings Invests $50 Million in Online Education Platform: Tencent Holdings Ltd., a China-based Internet services provider, plans to invest $50 million (RMB 320 million) in Beijing New Oriental Xuncheng Network Technology Co., operator of the Koolearn.com online education platform. Xuncheng Network Technology is an affiliate of New Oriental Education and Technology Group Inc., the largest provider of private educational services in China.

After the completion of the Tencent investment, Xun Cheng will remain as a majority controlled affiliate of New Oriental, according to a statement released by New Oriental.

Correction: This post originally misstated the corporate affiliation of PowerSchool, which was acquired last year by Vista Equity Partners.

Be sure to check back on Marketplace K-12 for updates on mergers, acquisitiotns, fundraising, and other dealmaking. Also see EdWeek Market Brief, a service that gives companies operating in the market insights on the needs and priorities of school officials.

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