IOWA CITY, Iowa—ACT, a mission-driven nonprofit organization, today announced a $10.5 million strategic investment in New Markets Venture Partners, a pioneering education-focused fund with a successful 14-year track record of identifying and scaling businesses committed to improving educational outcomes for millions of students across the K-12 and postsecondary spectrum.
“Investing in innovation is central to our mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success,” said Marten Roorda, ACT chief executive officer. “We are inspired by both the impact of technology and a growing community of entrepreneurs working to address some of our most vexing challenges across the student life cycle. Our investment with New Markets is designed to support businesses that are making an impact by allowing them to invest in critical efficacy research and to attract strong teams needed to scale.”
With ACT’s support, the 10-year fund will invest in education companies with proven models of success across the early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education landscape. The fund also intends to back emerging approaches to workforce development, hiring and training at a time when skills and equity gaps challenge employers.
“There is an urgent need for investments into new educational models with proven efficacy that address the nation’s achievement and skills gaps,” said Mark Grovic, general partner and founder of New Markets Venture Partners. “Given ACT’s long history of leadership and innovation in assessment and college and career readiness, New Markets is excited to work with them to identify and support the nation’s best education entrepreneurs working to remove the obstacles that prevent students from reaching their full potential. ACT will be a great partner both for us and for our portfolio companies.”
ACT will be the largest strategic investor in the new fund, which recently named former Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Deputy Director Jason Palmer as general partner. Other investors include the Lumina Foundation, Strada Education Network, ECMC Group and Prudential Financial.
“ACT’s strategic investment philosophy is to leverage our strong heritage as an authority in education and career research, coupled with our industry presence and influence, to enter new markets and advance our mission and long-term strategy,” said Brad Lindaas, ACT vice president for strategy. “Our investment with New Markets aligns directly with this philosophy.”
ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as a national leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality assessments grounded in nearly 60 years of research. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions designed to provide personalized insights that help individuals succeed from elementary school through career.
New Markets Venture Partners
Founded in 2003, New Markets is one of the leading education technology-focused venture firms in the U.S. New Markets has built strong relationships with states, districts, universities and other centers of innovation that allows it to provide exceptional value to its portfolio companies. Current investments include: Graduation Alliance, a leading dropout prevention and recovery firm helping students with diplomas, credentials and jobs; Presence Learning, a pioneer in the application of teletherapy in K-12 schools; leading digital credential platform Credly; and Straighterline, which offers low cost college courses accepted by over 100 accredited partner colleges. Notable exits include Moodlerooms (acquired by Blackboard), Starfish (acquired by Hobsons) and Questar Assessment (acquired by ETS).