Citelighter acquired by Sylvan Learning

Citelighter, a Baltimore education technology startup, has been acquired by Sylvan Learning Inc., Sylvan announced Thursday.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the deal, Hunt Valley-based Sylvan is absorbing Citelighter's technology platform, which teaches students how to research and write papers.

Sylvan, which has more than 750 tutoring and education centers in the United States and Canada, plans to integrate the tool into an updated writing program it intends to release this fall, said Emily Levitt, Sylvan's vice president of education.

"It's a very innovative writing platform, and it really supports students through the composition process in a way I have never seen in any other writing educational software," Levitt said. "We are thrilled to offer this enhancement to our centers so they can have kind of an academic edge in the writing support they're providing for students."

Only one of Citelighter's employees will transition to Sylvan, to work with schools and teachers that use the program, Levitt said.

Citelighter founders Lee Jokl and Saad Alam will not join Sylvan.

Jokl said the deal came about after Sylvan had been testing out Citelighter at its learning centers for a year and a half. Levitt, who previously worked for Citelighter, led the pilot, he said.

"We had an opportunity to see Citelighter grow with a company we trust and people we know," Jokl said.

Jokl and Alam founded Citelighter in 2011 and moved the company from New York City in 2013 to take advantage of what they saw as a growing education technology scene in Baltimore.

Investors poured a total of $7.5 million into Citelighter.

"Lee and I are happy to see Citelighter stay in Baltimore where we really begun to find traction as it allows us to begin focusing on the next large societal problem that we want to go after and fix," said Alam, in a statement.

Alam and Jokl declined to elaborate on their future plans, but Jokl said they plan to stay in Baltimore.

The company has between 40 and 50 school district contracts for its writing tool, which Sylvan will take over, Levitt said.

Sylvan will pilot the new writing program with Citelighter's technology this fall.

In addition to integrating the tool into its new writing program, Sylvan will make the tool available to the schools it contracts with, Levitt said.

sarah.gantz@baltsun.com

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