Follow the Money
What is Newsela Inc.?
Founded in 2013, Newsela, Inc., is a company that provides online news content to K-12 schools. While news content can seem neutral, it often times isn’t any longer, and companies like Newsela are used to promote news with an activist and social justice perspective, as Newsela tends to do.
In its promotional material, the company says, “Newsela was founded on the belief that classroom learning can be massively more engaging, effective and meaningful for all students. Launched in 2013 at the dawn of accelerating technology investments in high-speed internet and laptops, Newsela quickly became the SaaS platform of choice as the structural shift from paper-based materials to digitally delivered content unfolded in schools across the country.”
On Feb. 25, 2021, Newsela announced that the company had it had raised $100 million in Series D investment by new investor Franklin Templeton and many of the same venture capitalists that have invested in for-profit company Panorama Education Inc. They include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his physician-wife Priscilla Chan, as well as Owl Ventures.
The company noted the explosive growth in Big Tech in K-12 education.
Leading K-12 instructional content platform Newsela announced today a $100M Series D investment led by new investor Franklin Templeton and existing investor TCV, with participation by Owl Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Waycross Ventures.
Private U.S. edtech companies raised a record-setting $2.2B in 2020 across K-12, higher ed, and workforce education. That’s a 30% increase over 2019, and more than double the 14% YoY increase enjoyed by all venture-backed U.S. companies. Newsela’s latest fundraise is a validation of the disruption taking place in the $10B U.S. K-12 instructional materials market, and a strong acknowledgment of much-needed investment in our K-12 education system as a whole.
As of late February 2021, Newsela said it had 37 million registered students and 2.5 million registered teachers in 90 percent of U.S. schools. Newsela said it was “well on its way toward making legacy materials like textbooks and the long-term lock-in commitments they represent, a relic of the past.”
What services does Newsela Inc. provide?
Newsela aggregates and curates the news, and school districts subscribe to its platform as a news delivery vehicle to students. The bias and point of view of its media articles can strong influence debates, discussions and opinions in classrooms.
What are the details of their K-12 contracts?
Orange County Public Schools
On July 30, 2019, Orange County Public Schools signed a $700,000 agreement with Newsela Inc., vendor No. 140045, for a Newsela online subscription with a contract period from Sept. 14, 2019, through Sept. 13, 2020, with three additional one-year renewable options.
The unit and funding source was listed as “Curriculum, Instruction, & Digital Learning and General Funds.”
On Sept. 9, 2021, the school district’s website said that the contract’s current expiration date was Sept. 13, 2022. The contract was in the Division of Teaching and Learning and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.