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ACT acquires Mawi Learning

Iowa City-based ACT announced today it has acquired Mawi Learning, an Illinois-based online learning curriculum that empowers K-12 educators & students with proven SEL tools that boost learning and build confidence.

The acquisition of Mawi Learning is part of ACT’s efforts to transform the company into a learning, measurement and navigation company.

“Mawi Learning’s mission and focus on improving social and emotional learning, along with its research-based approach, make it a natural fit for ACT,” said ACT CEO Marten Roorda in a statement. “Mawi Learning’s offerings also are closely aligned with ACT’s guiding principles: to be inclusive, transformational and holistic. We are delighted to be adding its programs to the ACT portfolio.” 

Since its change leadership in 2015, the Iowa City-based company has made 10 deals in which it has invested in, acquired or formed strategic partnerships with educational companies, some of which include:

  • Merged with ProExam to introduce a suite of social and emotional learning assessments and solutions
  • Acquired Knovation and OpenEd to provide the online content resources for personalized learning resources
  • Invested in Smart Sparrow to enter into adaptive learning
  • Acquired The National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA) and the American College Application Campaign (ACAC) to help students with comprehensive navigation tools and resources.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

ETCPS 2019

ACTNext is hosting an event on October 9-10 at the Graduate Hotel in Iowa City, called the Education Technology & Computational Psychometrics Symposium (ETCPS), which focuses on education research and technological innovation.

In conjunction with ETCPS ’19, ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning and ACTNext have co-organized a pre-conference panel and round table discussion, free and open to the public. Geared toward educators, topics will focus on bridging the gap in the digital divide, both in the classroom and in education policy.

Previous coverage

ACT makes strategic investments as it continues to expand its scope -Oct. 1, 2018

ACT acquires Mawi Learning | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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