Read all about it! Or rather, listen up. Listen Current, which offers public radio stories along with lesson plans and instructional materials, has raised $600,000 in follow-on seed funding. This Boston, MA-based startup has now raised $1.45 million.
LaunchPad Venture Group led the funding (as it did for the ListenCurrent’s previous round), along with XSquared Angels, a group based in Columbus, Ohio. Perhaps of more intrigue is participation from Tokyo-based EduLab, which supports edtech businesses in Asia but recently launched a U.S.-based education investment fund. EduLab is also a subsidiary of JIEM, one of Japan’s biggest provider of English materials and language tests.
Founded by long-time public radio journalist, Monica Brady-Myerov, Listen Current offers teachers audio stories from 15 public radio partners including NPR, along with comprehension and discussion questions, for free. The curated content covers science, English language arts, social studies and current events. A premium account comes with interactive transcripts, customizable assignments for students and support for English Language Learners.
The aim is to engage students in everyday classroom topics while helping them build literacy skills. “Listening is an integral part of literacy,” Brady-Myerov told EdSurge in an interview. In the fall, Listen Current will add an assessment component that will test students’ listening skills through multiple-choice questions.
Schools and districts in 19 states, including California, Florida and Texas, are currently paying for the tool, according to Brady-Myerov. The startup has also found attentive ears abroad. It has customers among adult learners in Spain and high school teachers in Brazil. The company also has a sales distribution agreement with JIEM to help push the product in the Asian markets.
Global distribution will be an ambitious task for a small company that currently numbers seven employees and doesn’t plan on growing its headcount. For now, the team’s focus remains on serving U.S. middle and high school students, along with those in community colleges.