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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A new venture capital fund based in Bentonville launched this week with a post on Medium. The $200+ million fund will focus on advancing public K-12 education across the U.S.

  • A-Street Ventures will invest in a mix of early-, growth- and late-stage companies, concentrated on digital educational instruction and new ways to assess students.
  • Profits will be reinvested or donated to charity.
  • Founder Marc Sternberg is stepping down from eight years as the K-12 education program director for the Walton Family Foundation to lead A-Street.

Why it matters: Educational disparities between rich and poor students and communities became glaringly obvious during the pandemic.

  • Now is a critical time to launch an education fund because of the attention on the issue, Sternberg told Axios.

There are a lot of hard questions to tackle. "At a moment of surging digital access, what does digital-forward curricula look like that's high quality? That advances student learning in demonstrable ways?" Sternberg said.

  • He stressed that A-Street alone won't be able to solve all the challenges, so it will be open to partnerships.
  • Though profits will be reinvested, there will be expectations of returns on investments like there would be with any other fund.

Details: The fund is seeded by interested members of the Walton family but is held and operated independently of the Walton Family Foundation.

  • Investments will mostly be made in the U.S., but international entrepreneurs and technology will be considered.

Zoom out: Global venture capital investment in education and education technology rocketed to an estimated $16 billion in 2020.

  • Just 10 years before, venture capital in the field was about $500 million.

Go deeper

First look: Education secretary taking back-to-school bus tour

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks with Beverly Hills Middle School students. Photo: Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Times via Getty Images

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is taking a bus tour across the Midwest seeking to reassure parents and teachers as safety measures surrounding the pandemic in schools continue to be a political flashpoint.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is grappling with how to maintain in-classroom learning while controlling the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Cases largely involving the Delta variant are surging, and some governors have blocked local districts from mandating masks.

32 mins ago - Health

The COVID booster vaccine discussion is far from over

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An FDA advisory panel may have green-lighted a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine for a somewhat narrow slice of the population, but the messy process of figuring out who should get another shot of the vaccine — and when — has likely just begun.

Why it matters: Many vaccinated Americans are worried about their level of protection as the pandemic continues to rage. The piecemeal booster decision-making process may be the best way to keep pace with the science, but it's also at risk of becoming extremely confusing.

2 hours ago - World

UN chief urges U.S. and China to fix "dysfunctional relationship"

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a Sept. 13 press conference in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / Coffini/AFP via Getty Images

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres raised concerns in an interview with AP, published Monday, of another Cold War between the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Guterres made the comments ahead of this week's UN General Assembly in New York. Guterres told AP the U.S.-U.K. deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia "is just one small piece of a more complex puzzle ... this completely dysfunctional relationship between China and the United States."

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