CODESPARK, which offers coding games for children ages 4 to 9, has raised $4.1 million in a seed round led by Kapor Capital. Based in Los Angeles, codeSpark develops “The Foos,” a coding game played by more than 4 million kids, according to TechCrunch. The startup make its offerings available to schools, libraries and nonprofits for free, while charging parents a fee for home access. Other investors include Idealab, PGA Venture Partners, Felton Group, NewGen Capital and Umang Gupta (who wrote Oracle’s first business plan and now opines on EdSurge).
EARLY ACCESS: The Department of Education is opening up the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application on Oct. 1—three months earlier than the traditional Jan. 1 date. The department is on a mission to increase awareness: it’s releasing a CollegeHumor video with Michelle Obama as part of its campaign.
Organizations are also getting on board with the mission to help students make smart decisions about their future. Google is incorporating data from the College Scorecard into its search rankings, for instance.
ZUOYEBANG, (which literally means “homework help” in Chinese), has raised $60 million in a Series B round led by GGV Capital and Xianghe Capital (founded by former Baidu executives). Existing investors Sequoia Capital and Legend Capital also participated.
The Beijing-based startup, launched in 2014, offers an online platform where K-12 students can get homework help (by snapping and sharing photos of problems), find teachers for tutoring sessions, and connect with peers and parents. Already claiming more than 175 million users, Zuoyebang plans to use the funding to support R&D efforts and is keenly eyeing overseas expansion. More details from TechNode.
FINANCIAL LITERACY WITH A BEAT: A survey created by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 46 percent of teens have no clue how to create a budget—an alarming stat for students taking out loans to go to college. As part of a financial literacy campaign, the consulting firm brought out an unusual suspect: New Orleans Rapper Dee-1.
His music video, “Sallie Mae Back,” about repaying his students loans went viral this year, and now he’s on a cross-country tour to talk to teens about higher-education costs. “My voice is authentic to them, my life experience is authentic to them, so when I hit them with the knowledge, the financial literacy piece, they’re all ears,” Dee-1 tells the Washington Post.