Jun 11, 2021 - News

New $200M Bentonville venture capital fund to invest in K-12 education

Illustration of a chalkboard with three digital-style dollar signs on it.

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.

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