Kinvolved Hailed as a “Changemaker” among B Corporations

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Kinvolved Hailed as a “Changemaker” among B Corporations

Today, Kinvolved was awarded a place on the Best for the World: Changemakers list, which acknowledges positive impact and behavior change among Certified B Corporations across all categories on the B Impact Assessment. This comes on the heels of winning two other Best for the World awards.

All honorees are featured on bthechange.com. Thank you all for acknowledging our contributions—we’re proud to be among these amazing Changemakers!

How to reach students’ greatest influencers

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This blog post is part of our “Guide to Family Communications” series, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

Phone calls and letters get sent to a single designated contact that, even if up-to-date, might not be the most effective influencer to provide the support a student needs.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

Because KiNVO allows multiple contacts per student, teachers can loop in multiple relatives and guardians who may have substantial influence over the child.

Ms. N., a Brooklyn high school teacher, worked with one student’s grandmother to add more family members to her contact list. “If that student is out, it’s clear she’s cutting class—now, any available family member can help deal with it,” she explains. The expanded circle brought drastic results: “I sent two text messages, and suddenly she was getting to school before the first-period bell!”

For Ms. S., a high school teacher in Harlem, when she learned that a parent who was supposed to be receiving automated phone calls was deaf, she switched to text messaging and added another contact to the student’s account. Just by adding another family member, “the child’s attendance went from 38% to 68% in four weeks.”

Putting it into practice

  • Add as many contacts as you need per student, then customize which contacts receive which messages in which format.
    • Pro tip: Be sure to customize the language settings for each individual.
  • As you get to know your students, ask where they spend their evenings and mornings so you learn which family members are closest when students are doing homework assignments or waking up.

How to strengthen teacher-parent bonds by removing communication barriers

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This blog post is part of our Guide to Family Communications series, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

It’s tough for working parents to stay in the loop about their child’s progress that day—or to even know whether their child shows up to school each day. Compounding the problem, evening work and activity schedules often conflict with parent-teacher conferences and other school events.

Even if school staff are able to reach parents and guardians, language barriers often mean that traditional forms of communication—like phone calls, in-person meetings, and letters home—may be inaccessible to families that don’t speak English.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

KiNVO’s automatic two-way language translation, pre-scheduling functions, and mass-sending capabilities open communications channels with families who have traditionally been left out of the conversation, all without adding time or stress to teachers’ busy days.

Brooklyn Community Schools director Ms. C. shares, “some parents at work can’t talk on their cell phones but texting works for them.” Her colleague Ms. H. agrees, finding KiNVO messaging more effective than phone calls when scheduling home visits: “Some parents don’t have cell phone plans with enough minutes to talk, but are able to text.”

Harlem elementary school teacher Ms. D. texts parents to keep them in the loop on behavior and homework—information she used to send home in student backpacks. “It’s great for those parents who are so busy they don’t have the time to go home and look through the folder,” she says.

Communicating with families, regardless of their chosen language, helps strengthen the bonds between educators and families, raise awareness of attendance issues before they become unmanageable, and can even lead to improved performance. Through KiNVO, users select the appropriate language(s) for each contact associated with a student, so every message is delivered in a readable language. When a parent writes back in their chosen language, the KiNVO automatically translates that back into English.

According to Ms. G., a high school teacher in the Bronx, the ability to send messages to parents and guardians in their language of choice led to “massive improvement” in student attendance—students who attended school one or two days a month were showing up multiple times per week.

“The ease of sending messages in languages other than English has been amazing,” says Bronx middle school teacher Ms. S. “I am able to write one message and reach all parents instead of using Google Translate and sending multiple renditions of a message.”

Putting it into practice

  • Send messages at a consistent time each evening so parents know when to expect them.
    • Pro tip: Use KiNVO’s scheduling feature to pre-plan and automate message delivery.
  • Set language preferences for every contact in a student’s account.
    • Pro tip: Clearly communicate to parents that the system will automatically translate the messages they send into English.

Tapping into the power of positivity

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This blog post is part of our Guide to Family Partnerships, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

Research on positive/negative interactions reveals that educators who lead with the positive and continually send encouraging messages—rather than first reaching out about a problem or only initiating contact when something is wrong—have the best chance at building strong relationships.

When schools only reach out to discuss problems, it’s easy for parents and students to feel frustrated, powerless, and disengaged; positive messages provide a welcome bright spot that helps build trust and engagement in schools.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

Mr. K. recalls that one student’s mother was surprised to receive through KiNVO a text from him that commended her student’s effort: “She told me that, in the past, when she received a phone call from class, it was never positive.”

For Ms. C., a Community Schools Director in Brooklyn, her team instructs teachers to be “very strategic around what we’re communicating with parents,” which is easy to track and evaluate through KiNVO’s reporting tools. She explains: “There is always something positive you can share with a parent. Send as many positive messages upfront as you can. When you do have to send a negative message, parents and students will better receive it because they’re used to you saying something kind and genuine—they understand you’re communicating because you need their support addressing an issue.”

Putting it into practice

  • Apply the “Magic Relationship Ratio”—initiating five positive interactions for every negative interaction—to build and sustain a strong relationship.
    • KiNVO pro tip:Use KiNVO’s Parent Communication report to compare how many Positive versus Needs Improvement messages you send—grade-level and content teams can set specific communications goals and check their progress each week.
  • Be conscious about the tone and timing of your messages, and keep your content simple and pleasant. Remember that texts can be easily misinterpreted, so if you have to discuss a sensitive matter, use text messages to coordinate a phone call at a mutually convenient time.
    • KiNVO pro tip: Start and end on a positive note, sandwiches in the middle any issues that need to be addressed.
  • Designate time periods where you send only positive messages. This helps establish an encouraging environment, build family and student buy-in, and create a two-way communications channel for collaborating and problem-solving.
    • KiNVO Pro-tip: Schedule positive-only periods at the beginning of the year and after long breaks.

Working with Washington, DC to make every day count

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This Spring we held a Community Summit in Washington, D.C., in partnership with Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education. The Every Day Counts! Summit gathered educators, city leaders, students, and families to learn about the resources, the research, and the best practices for improving student attendance citywide.

Check out our video recap of this incredible event:

Press Release: Kinvolved Wins Multiple B Lab “Best for the World” Awards

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Kinvolved Honored as Best for the World Among Certified B Corporations after Comprehensive Impact Assessment

The organization has been recognized in two categories, Best for Community and Best for Governance, for its positive community impact and its mission-driven leadership

June 12, 2018 – New York, NY: Today, Kinvolved was twice recognized for being a “Best for the World” organization based on an independent, comprehensive assessment administered by the nonprofit B Lab. Honorees are featured on B the Change, the digital Medium publication produced by B Lab: bthechange.com/bestfortheworld.

Kinvolved, a certified B Corporation, has been honored in both the Best For Community and the Best Governance categories. In each category, honorees receive the award if they earned a score in the top 10 percent of more than 2,400 Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment.

Honorees set a gold standard the positive impact that business-as-force-for-good can make in communities around the world. The selection criteria are available here.

The Community portion of the B Impact Assessment evaluates a company’s supplier relations, diversity, and involvement in the local community. It also measures the company’s practices and policies around community service and charitable giving, including whether a company’s product or service is designed to solve a social issue, such as access to basic services, health, education, economic opportunity and the arts. Kinvolved made the list thanks to exceptional practices like developing products and services to address a core problem, student absenteeism, which disproportionately affects students in high-need communities.

The Governance portion of the B Impact Assessment evaluates a company’s overall mission, ethics, accountability and transparency. It measures whether the company has adopted a social or environmental mission, and how it engages its employees, board members and the community to achieve that mission. This section assesses employee access to financial information, customers’ opportunities to provide feedback, and the diversity of the company’s governing bodies. Kinvolved made the list thanks to exceptional practices like continuous improvement, based upon client input, transparency among clients and team members alike, and diversity in hiring full time staff and board leadership.

“We’re an organization made up of former educators and community advocates. We launched Kinvolved because we saw firsthand the disastrous effects chronic absenteeism has on our schools, our communities, and particularly our most at-risks kids,” says Miriam Altman, Chief Executive Officer. “Our mission to elevate student attendance is inherently beneficial to everyone in the community. Combined with our high standard for ethics and values within our organization, it has been a natural fit for Kinvolved to be a B Corp, and we are honored to receive recognition from B Lab.”

To certify as B Corporations, companies must complete a full assessment—which measures a company’s impact on its workers, community, customers and the environment—and have their answers verified by B Lab. Today there are more than 2,400 Certified B Corporations across more than 150 industries and 50 countries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business.

A total of 932 Certified B Corporations representing 52 countries were named 2018 Best for the World Honorees. B Lab simultaneously released separate lists recognizing B Corporations as Best For The World Overall, Best For Environment, Best For Customers, and Best For Workers, which can be found at bthechange.com/bestfortheworld.

“With the rise of anger at a system that feels rigged, people are hungry for companies like Kinvolved that are changing the system by building businesses that seek to create the greatest positive impact,” says Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab. “Best For The World is the only list of businesses that uses comprehensive, comparable, third-party-validated data about a company’s social and environmental performance.”

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About Kinvolved

Kinvolved galvanizes students, parents, teachers, leaders, and community stakeholders around a shared goal: To increase student achievement by minimizing absenteeism. We take a holistic approach to fighting chronic absenteeism, combining technology tools and human interventions to change the deeply ingrained behaviors and external factors affecting student attendance, including poverty, racism, and socio-economic exclusion. Learn more at www.kinvolved.com.

About B Lab

B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world and society will enjoy prosperity for all for the long term. For more information, visit http://www.bcorporation.net.

About B the Change

B the Change is a Medium publication produced by B Lab in collaboration with the community of Certified B Corps and the movement of people using business as a force for good. Read all B the Change stories at http://www.bthechange.com.

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CONTACT:

Miriam Altman: miriam@kinvolved.com; 646.719.0553

Reaching out to parents when it counts

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This blog post is part of our Guide to Family Partnerships, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

An encouraging message, sent at the right moment, can make a world of difference. Unfortunately, positive messages are often the first item to get bumped lower on a teacher’s priority list, and for good reason: hectic schedules make it hard to prioritize authentic, of-the-moment outreach to any but the neediest students.

“Normally I wait until a Friday to call, but if things are going well for a student, I only reach out every other Friday,” says Ms. P, a Bronx middle school teacher.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

KiNVO allows teachers to quickly and easily send multiple messages, which means positive communication can become part of a teacher’s daily routine.

“We spend lot of time focusing on not-so-great things that kids are doing, so great kids in great moments get looked over,” says Ms. S., a high school teacher. With KiNVO’s help, Ms. S. set a goal to be “equally communicative when students are doing right thing,” and it made a big difference for parents. She recalls, “One mother said, ‘Wow, this made my day.’”

Teachers also use KiNVO’s real-time messaging to reinforce positive behavior. Bronx teacher Ms. E says, “If I have a student who is doing extremely well, right there in middle of class I will text their parents. That sort of communication is more meaningful than calling a few days later.”

Other teachers, like Mr. K, use KiNVO to keep students invested: “I tell them, if you maintain your focus, we’ll send a text together right now.” He describes this as “another tool in my toolbox to keep students motivated.”

Putting it into practice

Here’s a teacher tip for making positive communications part of the daily routine:

  • Schedule for students timely reminder messages for regularly occurring events, like weekly quizzes, to keep relevant ideas fresh in their minds. Pro-tip:
    • KiNVO pro tip: Send an encouraging message to parents the night before an event, offering a positive reminder for students and parents to prepare: “I can’t wait for {{student}} to rock out his math test tomorrow.”

How teachers can encourage students and parents—without working 24 hours a day

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This blog post is part of our Guide to Family Partnerships, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

Proactive, encouraging words from a teacher make students feel valued and elevate parents to the role of partners, and the strength of these relationships can be critical to resolving any issues that arise throughout the school year. With long rosters and limited hours, though, it’s tough to stay in regular contact with students and their families.

“So many students, so little time,” sums up Bronx high school teacher Ms. B. “I have only one day each week to do parent outreach; I can make make some phone calls, but not nearly enough to reach my 150 students’ parents.”

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

Ms. F., an afterschool program coordinator in Harlem, shares that she only offered positive feedback if she happened to see a parent during dismissal: “I rarely used email, and never used text messaging. KiNVO makes it easy and casual to send positive messages.”

For Bronx teacher Ms. S, having KiNVO technology at her fingertips helps positive communication flow naturally: “Sometimes I’ll be at home in my apartment and think, let me send these three kids’ parents messages to let them know their kids are doing a great job.”

Harlem Community Schools Director Ms. A appreciates that now teachers connect with each other about student performance from class to class: “I can send a message to my colleague about a student we share, something like, ‘Aaron had a really good day in math. He completed all his questions. Keep it up.’”

Teachers also use KiNVO’s direct-to-student messaging to send quick, uplifting texts that show they care, and many teacher embrace the mass messaging feature to reach many students at the touch of a button. “I’ll text my students in the morning with something like, ‘It’s a beautiful day to come to school,’ or a motivational message,” says Ms. N in the Bronx. “My students feel more connected than before; they know they can text me anytime and I will respond as soon as I see it. When they have that sense of belonging, I think it motivates them to come to school.”

Putting it into practice

Here’s are a few suggestions for how any teacher can communicate with positivity and efficiency:

  • Set a positive tone for the day by sending a positive or motivational message to students who need extra support.
    • KiNVO pro tip: Choose the “Recurring” option to automate messages and reminders.
  • Develop a set of differentiated mass messages, separate students and/or parents into groups, then alternate which groups receive which message each week. This adds a sense of personalization to your communications.
    • KiNVO pro tip: Set up a customized template with student names—like “{{Student}} did an awesome job in Spanish today!”—to easily show you care without an extra lift.
  • Choose one student per class, per week and send to him or her a unique, non-mass message with a positive tone (e.g. highlighting an insightful comment made during discussion or wishing good luck on an extracurricular activity).
    • KiNVO pro tip: To keep track, simply move down your roster in alphabetical order and mark in “notes” after you sent the individualized message.
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How we’re increasing our impact in the year ahead

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A message from Kinvolved’s founders:

With an investment from Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and with pilots launching in new states, Kinvolved is well-positioned to have tremendous impact in 2018.

In 2012 we founded Kinvolved with a singular vision: to increase student achievement by improving attendance and eliminating chronic absenteeism. Our holistic approach leveraged technology tools and human interventions to change deep-rooted behaviors and neutralize the external factors that lead to student disengagement—including poverty, racism, and socio-economic exclusion.

Why? Because chronic absence is a problem begging for a solution.

New federal legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), has prompted more than

37

Student attendance is the leading indicator of high school graduation: less than

20

By the time they
reach third grade,
only

17

of children who were chronically absent in earlier grades will read on grade level, compared with 64% of their peers who regularly attended class.

Chronic absence is also an issue of equity. Half the nation’s chronically absent students are concentrated in just 4% of the nation’s school districts, disproportionately affecting communities with the highest rates of unemployment, violence, inadequate housing, and intergenerational poverty. These are devastating numbers.

To find a path out of poverty and toward lifelong success, kids need to show up for school; our job is to show up for kids.

KiNVO, our attendance management software, launched in 2013 as a pilot with a small group of NYC public schools. We have since expanded our reach to 130+ NYC schools—serving more than 200,000 students, families, educators, and administrators—and we’ve launched a partnerships in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and communities in Kentucky, New Jersey, Connecticut, and South Dakota. In 2017, we also introduced Teacher and Leader Coaching, and Community Summits.

With hundreds of thousands of users, we’ve been able to gauge our impact:

  • Our partner schools see a 13x boost in attendance compared with other schools.
  • Kinvolved schools see stronger declines in chronic absence over the average school.

These results reinforce our commitment to the work, and we are excited to announce a new partner that will help us realize our vision: The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK) has invested in Kinvolved as part of its social impact work, and Stephanie Khurana, a DRK Managing Director, has joined Kinvolved’s board of directors as a strategic partner.

Stephanie brings to Kinolved’s board her expertise as a deeply involved investor and advisor to other organizations, many of which work to make an impact on education in high-risk communities.   

Kinvolved’s founders have demonstrated impressive traction with a solution that is simple enough for communities to implement, and which tackles chronic absenteeism in its early stages—a critical component to increasing graduation rates, employability, and other key societal benefits.

- Stephanie KhuranaManaging Director, DRK

There are countless ways for our nation, states, and communities to think about education reform—the first step is to ensure children are present and prepared to receive the education they deserve. With the help of district, neighborhood, government, and funding partners, we are catalyzing communities to get more kids to school.

Thank you for your continued support.

West Harlem Attendance Summit Recap

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On Friday, December 8th, Kinvolved and the West Harlem Development Corporation co-hosted the West Harlem Attendance Summit. The summit brought together educators, school-based teams, community members, nonprofit partners, and parent advocates to discuss how to use community partnerships to help elevate attendance in Harlem. In considering how to elevate attendance and deepen family involvement in Harlem schools, summit participants identified key research, new resources, and new tools; engaged with community partners to exchange shared challenges and solutions; and arrived at common language and goals for the Harlem community.

The event kicked off with a breakfast and networking session, followed by opening remarks by Dr. Kofi A. Boateng, the Executive Director of the West Harlem Development Corporation.

Following Dr. Boateng’s remarks, Kinvolved’s Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Miriam Altman, gave an opening presentation and led a Q&A in preparation for a case study on KiNVO use at PS 36 Margaret Douglas.

Ginelle Wynter, Site Manager for Healthy and Ready to Learn at PS 36, offered a glimpse into her school community, reviewing attendance data, sharing best practices, and engaging the broader audience in a dialogue around meaningful parent engagement practices.

Attendees then broke into small groups for intensive facilitated discussions, and then came back together as a large group to share reflections and goals for the community going forward.

Summit attendees left with a renewed commitment to better engage parents in the education process. Attendees agreed that the small group discussions were an effective, meaningful way to share experiences and best practices.

One attendee remarked, “Working in education, you think, ‘What else can I do?’ Every time I attend these Summits, it gives me hope I can do something big to make change. It’s an exciting feeling, and it’s through Kinvolved that I’ve been able to get into this work.”

Kinvolved will continue to offer additional summits and related events, in an effort to galvanize a movement of people who will elevate attendance by involving families in education. New York City is a special place to Kinvolved. It is our hometown, but we have also launched this model to other urban centers across the country. We invite you to join our movement.

View our full Harlem Attendance Summit photo library here.

To learn more about Kinvolved’s movement to elevate attendance by including families in education, or how to bring KiNVO to your school, contact us at hello@kinvolved.com.

#KinvolvedSummits #HarlemAttendanceSummit

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