For-profit

Newsela

Website:

https://newsela.com/join/welcome/

Location:

New York, New York

Type:

For-profit News Outlet

Founder and CEO:

Matthew Gross

Newsela is an online educational news provider that curates news content for K- 12 students. The startup company offers online subscriptions to school districts that allow students to access the company’s curated news articles and videos. The company was founded in 2013 and is ostensibly nonpolitical but has been criticized by right-leaning advocacy organization Parents Defending Education for distributing news content supporting left-leaning “diversity, equity, and inclusion” and racial justice issues.

The company was ranked in the top ten education consulting firms profiled by Parents Defending Education in its “Consultant Report Card,” due to the company receiving more than $1.9 million from Florida’s Orange County Public School system for its news-subscription service. [1] [2] [3]

Background

Newsela is an educational technology startup and digital news provider tailored to K-12 students. The company advertises itself as a way for teachers get assistance in formulating lesson plans and to select news articles to incorporate into lesson plans as. The company was formed in 2013 and offers videos, articles, and other educational tools at a variety of reading levels across multiple subjects including arts, science, social studies, and English. [4] [5]

The startup company is in its sixth round of investor funding and has raised a total of $172.2 million. The seed round of funding for the organization began in 2013 and the series D round of funding was announced in February 2021. Funders include the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Owl Ventures, Franklin Templeton Investments, Kleiner Perkins, Waycross Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, Reach Capital, and WomensVC Fund. [6]

Since its founding Newsela has become ubiquitous throughout U.S. schools, with over 37 million students and 2.5 million teachers registered to use the program. The company touts itself as central to the classroom shift away from traditional printed materials such as textbooks, calling them “a relic of the past.” [7]

Consulting Report Card

Newsela was profiled by right-leaning advocacy organization Parents Defending Education as one of dozens of left-leaning consulting firms that provide consulting services on critical race theory-inspired diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to schools. The company is described by Parents Defending Education as being a once ostensibly nonpartisan educational resource and news curator that has veered left. The company has released videos and materials explaining “access and equity” and has a “social justice text set” for teachers to incorporate into lesson plans. [8] [9]

Parents Defending Education identified at least $1.9 million in spending by public schools in Orange County, Florida on Newsela’s services over a three-year period. [10]

People

Matthew Gross is the founder and CEO of Newsela. He was previously executive director of the Regents Research Fund, a privately funded affiliate of the New York State Board of Regents and Education Department that helped lead the implementation of Common Core curricula in New York state schools. Gross previously worked at Pencil, a private sector funder of public-school projects, as well as Teach for America. [11]

Dan Cogan-Drew is a co-founder and chief academic officer for Newsela. He previously worked for Achievement First Public Charter Schools in New Haven, Connecticut and New York City, for Tufts University, and for Education Connection. [12]

References

  1. “Newsela.” Parents Defending Education. Accessed October 28, 2021.   https://defendinged.org/report/newslea-inc/ ^
  2. “Browse Content.” Newsela. Accessed October 28, 2021. https://newsela.com/about/content/browse-content/ ^
  3. “About the Consultant Report Card.” Parents Defending Education. Accessed October 28, 2021.   https://defendinged.org/case-study/about-the-consulting-report-card/ ^
  4. “Home.” Newsela. Accessed October 28, 2021. https://newsela.com/ ^
  5. “Browse Content.” Newsela. Accessed October 28, 2021. https://newsela.com/about/content/browse-content/ ^
  6. “Newsela.” CrunchBase. Accessed October 28, 2021. https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/newsela/company_financials ^
  7. “Newsela.” Parents Defending Education. Accessed October 28, 2021.   https://defendinged.org/report/newslea-inc/ ^
  8. Social Justice Text Set.” Newsela. October 28, 2021. https://newsela.com/text-sets/474600?utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=web ^
  9. “Newsela.” Parents Defending Education. Accessed October 28, 2021.   https://defendinged.org/report/newslea-inc/ ^
  10. “Newsela.” Parents Defending Education. Accessed October 28, 2021.   https://defendinged.org/report/newslea-inc/ ^
  11. “Matthew Gross.” LinkedIn Profile. October 28, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-gross-0a317612/ ^
  12. “Dan Cogan-Drew.” LinkedIn Profile. October 28, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/dancogandrew/ ^
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