Infrastructure

Nonprofit Literacy Organization Joins Online Pen Pal Company

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — January 17, 2007 1 min read

A company that provides protected Internet and e-mail exchanges among students around the globe for more than a decade has merged with the literacy-focused In2Books organization to expand the company’s online educational offerings.

The Herndon, Va.-based ePALS, which enables e-mail exchanges for some 6.5 million students and teachers worldwide, will combine with a former nonprofit known as In2Books to provide curriculum-based lessons and activities in various subjects for use in schools, after-school programs, and homes.

In2Books, based in Washington, provided popular trade books and aligned lesson plans to public schools in the District of Columbia, then paired students with adult pen pals to promote discussion of the texts. (“Entrepreneurs’ Literacy Program Takes Off in D.C. Schools,” Jan. 5, 2005.)

District of Columbia schools have used literacy programs by In2Books, which is merging with ePALS, a company that offers safe internet and e-mail exchanges.

The nonprofit organization, renamed the ePALS Foundation, will become the largest shareholder of the privately held for-profit company that results from the merger. “We’ve brought together a proven literacy-based, subject-matter curriculum with a safe suite of [Internet-based] tools and an active community of learners,” said Ed Fish, the chief executive officer of the combined company, which will be called ePALS.

The ePALS program reaches some 120,000 classrooms around the world, according to the company. While registered users represent nearly 200 countries, more than 60 percent of them are in the United States.

Participation in ePALS’ e-mail exchanges, discussion boards, Web logs, and mentoring program is growing most rapidly in many other countries, however, as Internet access becomes more common, Mr. Fish said.

For more information, go to www.epals.com.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 17, 2007 edition of Education Week

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