National Geographic, a tax-exempt educational organization, is selling its education division

Cengage Learning to acquire National Geographic School Publishing and obtain extended rights to use the National Geographic brand

STAMFORD, Conn., June 24, 2011 [PR Newswire] — Cengage Learning today announced the signing of a definitive agreement that significantly expands its strategic partnership with the National Geographic Society (NGS) including the acquisition of the NGS school publishing unit and extended use of the NGS brand.

Specifically, under the terms of the agreement, Cengage Learning will acquire National Geographic’s digital and print school publishing unit, which includes the National Geographic Science series, an innovative core elementary science curriculum, National Geographic Explorer! Magazines, and Hampton Brown’s literacy and language programs — resulting in the formation of a global literacy, English language learning and content publishing brand.  As a result, educators, parents and students will benefit from a comprehensive portfolio of learning materials incorporating National Geographic’s long tradition of quality, trust and inspiration with Cengage Learning’s demonstrated track record of achievement in key learning metrics.  The transaction is expected to close after the satisfaction of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. …

John Fahey

“Cengage Learning has been an extraordinary partner to date, and we are delighted to expand our relationship, making Cengage our premier partner in education,” said John Fahey, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, National Geographic Society.  “Cengage Learning’s scale, educational publishing expertise, and existing relationships within the international and domestic markets, particularly in the higher education space, enables us to expand the reach and impact of the Society’s mission to inspire people to care about our planet.  The first step in serving that mission is education, and we know the power of compelling images and interesting stories to educate even as they engage learners at every level.”

Read the whole thing here.

More on this sale coming soon…


  • Virginia Joe

    Your headline is misleading. They are selling an educational publishing division, most of which didn’t exist at NGS until it was acquired less than ten years ago. It has no effect on the activities for which the Society is awarded its non-profit status, including its geography education activities.

    • VJ – Well, NGS once had a division called Educational Media, which created curriculum materials for the K-12 market. That division was renamed School Publishing, which was just sold. And as far as I know, School Publishing is, or was, part of the 501(c)(3) side of the Society. 

      So, I guess I disagree: School Publishing at NGS has been around since at least the 1970s, if not earlier. … Actually, according to Wikipedia: “The National Geographic School Bulletin… aimed at grade school children, was published weekly during the school year from 1919 to 1975….”). By selling to Cengage, NGS is no longer in that business, at least directly. 

      And if selling School Publishing “has no effect” on the Society’s 501(c)(3) status, then why has that division received a tax-exemption all these years? (School Publishing was not part of NG Ventures, the for-profit side — was it?)

    • P.S.  If the sale to Cengage was such great news for our Society, and John Fahey is really “delighted to expand our relationship” etc etc — then why is there no press release at the NGS site? http://press.nationalgeographic.com/pressroom/index.jsp?siteID=1

      Cengage, on the other hand, posted the acquisition on their home page under Latest News: http://www.cengage.com/us/

      It’ll be interesting to see if NG makes any sort of announcement next week. (Don’t hold your breath.)

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