By guest blogger Leo Doran
On the heels of making $200 million plus in gifts to local school systems, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, made two noteworthy investments in ed-tech startups in the past month.
Newsela: Newsela, a publishing platform that tailors daily news items to students’ reading levels, last week announced a $15 million Series B round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Newsela attempts to improve literacy rates by adapting news articles for students to one of five personalized proficiency levels. The goal is for students at various reading levels, in the same classroom, to engage with the same content. Newsela’s articles, which are geared to grades 3 through 12, are accompanied by comprehension and critical thinking quizzes. The company also recently expanded its library of source material.
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, who have invested in and donated to numerous education initiatives in recent years, joined the fundraising round along with the Women’s Venture Capital Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Owl Ventures. The company hopes to use the funds to expand its data analytics and machine-learning capabilities while expanding to more schools and districts.
MasteryConnect: Following up on the company’s $15.2 million Series B round in fall 2014, MasteryConnect announced an additional extension of $5 million courtesy of Zuckerberg in late Septemeber. In the company’s press release, CEO Corey Reid thanked Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla, promising to continue to pursue competency-based education solutions by using the funding to invest further in the development of its platform. MasteryConnect creates software designed to help teachers and administrators organize data and assess student, teacher or school performance against competency-based standards. Since it was founded in 2009, MasteryConnect has received $29 million in private funding.
For more news on mergers, acquisitions, and venture capital in education, follow Marketplace K-12’s “K-12 Dealmaking” series.