Better Ventures Invests in BookNook to Personalize Literacy Education

We’d like to officially welcome the newest addition to the Better Ventures family: BookNook, an Oakland, CA-based edtech startup that provides tablet-based in-person and virtual literacy instruction for K-12 students. We invested $275k in the company’s $1M seed round, alongside Reach Capital, Urban Innovation Fund, and Impact Engine. BookNook is addressing the educational divide in our country by building a robust solution to improve literacy skills, a fundamental building block upon which all other learning is dependent. BookNook is being used by all types of schools around the country (40 schools already signed up, and counting), but is particularly focused on students who are struggling with reading at underperforming Title 1 schools. And it just works: as the chart below demonstrates, 100% of students in a recent pilot demonstrated growth, while 86% of students advanced more than five months in reading after just two months of using BookNook.


BookNook’s team is impressive. CEO Michael Lombardo has a strong track record in education - he grew his last organization, Reading Partners, to $30M in earned revenue. The team also includes Bay Area native Kendra O'Donoghue, who brings an extensive background in literacy development to the table, and serial entrepreneur Kevin Rohling, who heads up product and engineering. With a particular focus on supporting children in traditionally disenfranchised communities, BookNook is massively expanding students’ access to powerful personalized learning. 

BookNook is using a monthly subscription model, and helps schools and organizations provide powerful in-person reading instruction. BookNook’s tools can be used by educators, caring adults, and near peers to match each reader’s unique needs, simplify small group time, and engage families as partners. BookNook’s approach is based on decades of research on how kids best learn to read, and makes it easy to adapt for different students with different needs. By pairing engaging texts with standards-based lesson plans, BookNook makes differentiation for small group or one-on-one instruction literally as simple as the push of a button. Because BookNook is designed for both educators and non-educators to use, and parents and caregivers can participate in the learning process as volunteers at school or on their own at home.