News & Events


STATE COLLEGE, PA – Sixteen years ago, Ben Franklin Technology Partners invested in a local startup, Schoolwires, a company that was developing a platform to provide dedicated web-based services to primary and secondary schools. The goal of the company founder, Ed Marflak, was to bring K-8 students, teachers, and parents together online – an idea that grew into creating powerful, customized sites that encouraged parents to become more involved in their children’s academic progress and after-school activities.

The team at Schoolwires believed that a successful school district was the result of total community involvement. The intuitive technologies they developed have been helping administrators, educators, students, and parents communicate/collaborate for more than a decade. As part of the State College community, the Ben Franklin Center supported not only the importance of that concept, but also the underlying technology that created it.

Subsequently, from 2000 through 2002, the program made three investments in Schoolwires and watched as the company continued to grow and eventually employ nearly 200 people. It wasn’t long before 1,700 districts and more than 11 million users in the United States and China were relying on Schoolwires’ content management system, mobile solutions, and safe/collaborative learning communities to drive engagement in local classrooms and across the globe.

As is common knowledge now, in March of 2015, Blackboard Inc. acquired Schoolwires. The acquisition not only positioned Blackboard to further provide an unmatched combination of K-12 solutions and services, but also gave Schoolwires the opportunity to become part of the world’s leading education technology company.

But that’s not the end of this success story. On July 29, 2016, Ben Franklin received the last payment on the Schoolwires investment initially made in 2000. Ben Franklin’s President and CEO, Stephen Brawley, commented, “We’re proud of the small part we played in the success of Schoolwires and happy about their new home with Blackboard – a home right here in State College where it all started 16 years ago. Their final payment on the investment we made will help seed another local startup who will hopefully enjoy the same success.”         

                                        We Inve$t in Innovation