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Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

A number of leading children's brands, including Lego and Sesame Workshop, are among the investors pouring $50 million into BEGiN, the New York startup behind the early-learning program HOMER.

Why it matters: Thus far, HOMER has focused on reading apps, but with the new funding and partnerships, the company says it will expand to a full early-learning program combining digital, physical and in-person experiences, tapping some of its investors for both content and distribution.

Details:

  • Other investors include Trustbridge Partners and Interlock Partners and the lead investor behind Gymboree Play and Music.
  • Former Mattel and Babytree executive Siddharth Mathur is joining the company as executive chairman.
  • Sesame Workshop COO Steve Youngwood, Lego Education's Jyoti Parikh and Gymboree's Xinkai Chen and GSV partner Michael Cohn will also join the board.

Between the lines: HOMER's expansion comes as parents around the globe are looking for new early learning options amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What they're saying: "HOMER helps parents architect a unique learning journey for their child based on the specific way that they learn," CEO Neal Shenoy told Axios. "This approach helps all children appreciate that they are powerful learners, even when that learning does not occur in a formal classroom setting."

Go deeper

Parents of 545 children separated at southern border remain unfound

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. cannot locate the parents of 545 migrant children separated under a 2017 pilot program as part of President Trump’s immigration policy, NBC News first reported, citing a filing from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Why it matters: The number of parents who are currently considered “unreachable” is larger than was previously known. Search efforts have grown increasingly difficult given the time that has passed between when the children were released from federal custody and when volunteers started trying to find them.

Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

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