Halifax-area education technology company Squiggle Park has partnered with the Halifax Wanderers Football Club so content from the team’s players is now on the company’s Dreamscape platform.

The company and the Canadian Premier League soccer team issued a statement on Tuesday announcing the partnership, which builds on Squiggle Park’s recent success in growing its client base to 2.5 million users.

Squiggle Park had already been doing well when the COVID-19 Lockdown transformed the eLearning sector. The company sells online games that help children learn to read, and the closure of schools around the world accelerated the take-up of eLearning solutions.

“Our revenue grew 400 percent in March,” said Co-Founder and CEO Julia Rivard in an interview. “I don’t think anyone was prepared for this. . . . We had whole districts calling us and saying, ‘We’re not going back to school tomorrow and we need something to help.’”

The company began five years ago as Eyeread Inc., which is still its corporate name. It is best known as Squiggle Park, the name of its online game for primary to Grade 2 students. The company also offers Dreamscape, a follow-on game for children up to and beyond Grade 8. Both games help youngsters learn to read, testing them on the content and encouraging them to progress to more difficult levels.

Under the partnership with the Halifax Wanderers, the company has produced special content packs that feature stories about the team’s players, staff and club mascot Rover. Kids can read the stories and are tested to earn rewards or receive the resources they need to improve their learning. The Wanderers’ players wrote the stories, which were then edited by educational experts to align with the Nova Scotia curriculum.

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“With Dreamscape, we delivered a super fun video game where kids are motivated to drive their own reading mastery through play,” said Rivard. She added the partnership with the Wanderers "gives us an opportunity to present unique stories Nova Scotia kids can relate to, developed by inspiring high-performance players they look up to.”

Rivard said her company aims to use the Wanderers partnership as a model for other markets, so schools in other locations can incorporate the stories of local athletes, musicians, artists to spark kids’ enthusiasm for reading.

Squiggle Park had already been gaining momentum before everything accelerated in March, drawing investment in late 2019 from Halifax venture capital fund Concrete Ventures. Rivard had been working on a full funding round, but says the recent spike in revenues has brought in enough money to last until 2021.

She now envisages a larger round than she had been working on, raising enough money to propel the company to 6 million users. Once it reaches that level, Rivard wants the company’s platform to attract educational games from other gaming companies so the Squiggle Park/Dreamscape platform will be the go-to site for educators, parents and children looking for educational content.

Rivard, who has four children, said: “As a mother, I would love to think my kids have the ability to play popular games that they love and to learn while doing it.”