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National Geographic Invests In Online Education Startup ePals

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National Geographic is investing an undisclosed amount in online education and community startup ePals, and as part of the deal will also supply educational content for the ePals learning projects. NYT has a larger story on the company and the trend of for-profit philanthropy ventures. The Herndon, Virginia-based company started as a non-profit In2Books that used books and online tools to enhance skills of inner-city students.

Now, three years and $10-million-of-the-founders-own-money later (and after they bought ePals in 2006), the company now offers classrooms e-mail, blogs, online literacy tools and Web-based collaborative projects. Also, besides National Geographic, Intel (NSDQ: INTC), which will soon ship its Classmate laptops designed for students in developing nations, will have the ePals icon on the screens.

ePals’ previous angel investors include Steve Case, Mitchell Kapor and Yossi Vardi.

Updated: the companies have issued the official release. The investment was made by National Geographic Ventures (NGV), which creates and distributes digital content for the National Geographic Society.