said it took a stake today
developer of education services and resources, and entered into a long-term
strategic partnership with the company to boost the development of an
interactive network to link parents and teachers.
While the amount of the investment was not disclosed by the companies, a
report in the Wall Street Journal said AOL took a 20 percent
stake in the company for $14 million.
In addition to an investment, the FamilyEducation Network (FEN) will become
an anchor tenant within AOL's Research & Learn and its Families channels
under a four-year exclusive carriage agreement.
Through FEN, the educational service provider offers schools free
customized Web sites to create a home-school connection, creating online
communities to support parent-teacher communications, group discussions of
school policies and programs, updates on school activities, schedules, and
lunch menus, and other convenient and time-saving uses.
The partnership between AOL and Boston-based FamilyEducation aims to bring
more parents, students,
teachers, and administrators together. Each school participating in FEN
will be assigned an AOL Keyword that will allow AOL users to navigate
directly to a specific school's site.
In just 12 months, 337 school districts--representing a total of 2,855
schools--have signed onto the FamilyEducation Network's initiative.
"AOL is committed to using the tremendous potential of the interactive
medium to build strong educational communities," Steve Case, chairman
and CEO of AOL, said in a statement. "It's time to shift the education focus in
this country from wiring schools by connecting computers to engaging
parents by building home-to-school communities."
"As we enter into a knowledge-based 21st century, education will be an
increasingly important part of our society," FamilyEducation Network
cofounder and president Jonathan Carson said in a statement. "There are 30
million households with children, 28,000 PTA chapters, and 100,000 schools--this partnership will connect them all together."
FEN began building its local school network in 1997 and to date has rolled
out its network in school districts in four states: Arizona, Maryland,
Michigan, and New Jersey.