Instructional Content Platform Newsela Closes $100 Million

By Dan Anderson ● Mar 6, 2021
  • Newsela — a leading K-12 instructional content platform — announced recently that it has raised a $100 million Series D round of funding led by new investor Franklin Templeton

Newsela — a leading K-12 instructional content platform — announced recently that it has raised a $100 million Series D round of funding led by new investor Franklin Templeton and existing investor TCV with participation by Owl Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Waycross Ventures.

The private U.S. edtech companies raised a record-setting $2.2 billion in 2020 across K-12, higher ed, and workforce education. And this is a 30% increase over 2019 and more than double the 14% year-over-year increase enjoyed by all venture-backed U.S. companies. Newsela’s latest fundraise is a validation of the disruption taking place in the $10 billion U.S. K-12 instructional materials market, and a strong acknowledgment of much-needed investment in our K-12 education system as a whole. 

Newsela was founded on the belief that classroom learning can be massively more engaging, effective, and meaningful for all students. And 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. 

The company has 37 million registered students and 2.5 million registered teachers in 90% of all U.S. schools. And Newsela is well on its way toward making legacy materials like textbooks and the long-term lock-in commitments they represent, a relic of the past. 

Newsela’s 2020 annual recurring revenue grew 81% over 2019 with new bookings surging 115%, rivaling many of the top-performing public SaaS companies in the world. 

Newsela offers a deep catalog of over 14,000 high-quality, high-interest, standards-aligned texts across 20+ genres, carefully curated from over 175 trusted publishers, including the Associated Press, National Geographic, The New York Times, Scientific American, USA Today, Atlanta Black Star, Human Rights Watch, and Encyclopedia Britannica.

And all content is then made ready for classroom instruction by reproducing every text at multiple reading levels, adding instructional supports such as assessments, lesson ideas and professional development, and mapping all content to learning standards by subject and grade. Plus educators access these instruction-ready materials on a single platform where they can search, remix, modify and bundle resources into comprehensive, engaging lessons, or choose from a wealth of pre-built collections. 

Newsela will use the additional funding to build and acquire features and content that help teachers plan and execute more effective lessons, advance the digitization of K-12 classrooms, and accelerate its rapidly expanding customer base.

KEY QUOTES:

“The demands of remote learning amplified pre-existing weaknesses in how K-12 instructional content is evaluated, procured, and delivered. The widespread shift of traditional classrooms to digital experiences spurred by the pandemic has greatly accelerated the transition from paper-based materials to SaaS solutions already underway.”

— Chris Anderson, Research Analyst and Portfolio Manager at Franklin Templeton

“This is a continuation of the rapidly accelerating growth we’ve been experiencing for years. Education leaders are breaking free from the limits of an antiquated marketplace that locks schools into a static, unengaging curriculum while the world continues to change around us. School administrators are taking this opportunity to future-proof their schools, and they’re not looking back.” 

— Matthew Gross, founder & CEO of Newsela

“Even before COVID-19, only half of students reported feeling engaged in school, with a fourth described as actively disengaged. To that end, traditional educational materials have failed us. They leave students unengaged, uninspired, and as a result, unmotivated to learn. Newsela’s foundation lies in creating authentic student learning engagement as the key to academic outcomes.” 

— Dan Cogan-Drew, co-founder and Chief Academic Officer of Newsela