LearnZillion Secures $7 Million in Series A Funding Led by DCM

Lauren Williams's picture
Friday, April 19, 2013

LearnZillion, the first digital curriculum and professional development platform that provides teachers with the tools they need to implement the Common Core State Standards, today announced it has raised $7 million in Series A funding. This brings total funding raised to date to $9.4 million, which includes a $2.4 million seed round. The Series A was led by DCM, with O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, NewSchools Venture Fund, Calvert Social Investment Fund, and D.C. Community Ventures also participating in the equity round. LearnZillion will use the funding to hire key talent to fuel technology development, scale more quickly, and enrich its platform to reach more educators. 

LearnZillion is creating a national community of teachers dedicated to high quality instruction of the Common Core State Standards. The company’s web-based platform offers a digital curriculum and professional development platform for teachers, schools and districts implementing the Common Core State Standards. Developed by and for teachers, LearnZillion offers Common Core lessons, assessments, and activities created by top teachers from around the country.  The platform helps teachers understand the new standards, plan effective lessons, and assign content directly to students. The company currently has over 120,000 registered teachers, reaching approximately 1.4 million students, and is adding about 5,000 new teachers every week.

The Common Core State Standards define what students in grades K-12 need to know in language arts and mathematics, to be prepared for post-secondary education and the workforce. Adopted at the individual state level, the initiative will lead to new standardized tests that will measure and compare educational performance nationwide. To date, 46 states have announced their plans to adopt the initiative.

“The Common Core is the biggest shift in education in decades,” said Eric Westendorf, CEO of LearnZillion. “It creates a major pain point for teachers, school administrators, parents and even students. Teachers need new materials and professional development to get up-to-speed. We’re creating a national community of teachers that are embracing the challenge head on. Our platform provides a digital curriculum that’s been created ‘By Teachers, For Teachers’ and is built directly from the Common Core State Standards.”

To develop high quality Common Core-aligned curriculum, the company chooses top teachers from around the country through a rigorous submission and selection process – this year’s team is comprised of 200 teachers from 41 states. LearnZillion’s “Dream Team” of teachers works together over the summer to develop highly effective lessons and resources for the LearnZillion platform and provides educators with practical tools for teaching a Common Core-aligned curriculum. Teachers and parents access lessons and resources on LearnZillion for free. Schools and districts can subscribe to enterprise-level features such as access to premium professional development content, personalized teaching insights, and data analytics.

“Unlike most education technology platforms, where a handful of individuals create niche content and curriculums, LearnZillion offers Common Core-aligned lessons developed by leveraging the experience and skillset of its Dream Team. This produces professional development content that is truly accessible, flexible, and effective,” said Pete Moran, general partner at DCM. “LearnZillion’s management team has that rare combination of time spent in the classroom and expertise in technology to create unique solutions that have huge upside in both an educational and business context. The LearnZillion platform has the potential to become the go-to resource for teachers nationwide on core instructional content, as well help elevate student outcomes in the U.S. in a highly effective way.”

“LearnZillion might be more impactful and cost-effective than doubling the number of instructional coaches we have,” said Jason Kamras, chief of human capital for Washington D.C. Public Schools, in a recent interview about D.C. public school initiatives.

“LearnZillion’s unique approach is definitely a game changer for teachers, parents and students,” said Maura Marino from NewSchools Venture Fund.

The company hosts TeachFest, a three-day event that brings together teachers from LearnZillion’s nationwide Dream Team to develop lessons and resources. Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, TeachFest will take place on May 2-5, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

About LearnZillion

LearnZillion helps teachers and parents meet the needs of every student.  It is the only online professional development platform that builds teachers’ content knowledge of the Common Core State Standards. Built by and for teachers, LearnZillion offers a practical solution to teachers, schools and districts implementing the new Common Core State Standards—a digital curriculum with lessons developed by top teachers from across the country. Teachers and parents access lessons and resources for free. Schools and districts pay to get premium content and advanced features.

Based in Washington D.C., LearnZillion was founded in 2011 by Eric Westendorf, most recently a principal and the Chief Academic Officer of E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington DC., and Alix Guerrier, also a former classroom teacher. For more information, visit http://learnzillion.com/.

About DCM

DCM is an early stage venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley, Beijing and Tokyo with more than $2 billion under management.  DCM has investments in more than 200 technology companies across the United States and Asia and provides hands-on operational guidance and a global network of business and financial resources.  DCM has backed industry-leading companies such as 51job, About.com, Clearwire, eDreams, Foundry Networks, Kabu.com, Sling Media, SMIC, and VanceInfo as well as upcoming startups such as 58.com, Bill.com, Bridgelux, Kakao, Happy Elements, and Trion Worlds.  Recent successes (IPOs and M&As) include China-based Renren, BitAuto, Dangdang, Luxin and Vipshop; Japan-based Pokelabo (GREE) and StarFlyer and U.S.-based Fortinet, PGP (Symantec) and SandForce (LSI.) For more information, visit http://www.dcm.com/.