Announcing The Best Kept Secret in Reading Comprehension

August 27, 2013

readworks_logo_org_webWe are thrilled to welcome to the Seed Fund portfolio.

John Merrow, the education correspondent for PBS NewsHour said it best,

ReadWorks serves a need. We have a reading crisis in this country, and some of that stems from the harsh truth that many elementary school teachers aren’t well equipped to teach reading. Rather than curse that darkness, ReadWorks offers help – tons of it. I urge you to share this website with every teacher you know. It’s free.

It’s a humble and hardworking nonprofit, with a maniacal focus on quality. They’ve mostly flown under the radar since their founding in 2010, spending zero dollars on marketing. Even so, they’ve grown organically through teacher word of mouth resulting in 3 million reading lessons downloaded and 270 websites linked to their materials.

Readworks is the first nonprofit Seed Fund has backed. While exceptions exist (i.e. Khan Academy), we’ve found nonprofit edtech companies face unique challenges to scale*. Readworks is different. They are creating an open API so that their content can be used by anyone, allowing Readworks to stay focused on what they do best, producing high quality content. Readworks already distributes their common core reading passages through NearPod, Curriculet and others.

As any seed investor will say, it’s all about the entrepreneur – ReadWorks is led by an exceptional one, David Ciulla. David has a diverse background with broad-based experience in business, education, and entrepreneurship. For those living in the San Francisco area, you may know Sports Basement, which David co-founded with his Stanford buddy Eric Prosnitz. He also taught English Language Arts for five years and led development projects in the Navajo Nation and the Amazon region of Brazil. 

We are honored to be working with David and his team at Readworks and hope you follow John’s advice to share with every teacher you know. We certainly will be.

*A topic for another blog post. Worth noting that both the NEA and AFT have partnered with for-profit lesson plan sharing sites.