Kinvolved Closes $1.5M Seed Round to Expand Its Efforts to Engage Families and Communities in Eradicating Chronic Absenteeism

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November 1, 2018 – New York, NY: Amidst a wave of new research underlining the connections between school attendance and student success, Kinvolved, the leader in software and services proven to reduce chronic absenteeism and boost daily attendance, today announced it has secured $1.54M in funding through a Seed II investment round.

Kinvolved raised funds from notable organizations and angel investors, and their investments will help Kinvolved build on its success supporting school districts in their efforts to get all children to school each day.

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK)—a global venture philanthropy firm supporting early-stage, high-impact social enterprises—led the fundraising round, and its managing director, Stephanie Khurana, sits on Kinvolved’s board of directors.

“DRK invests in high impact social enterprises that solve real-life problems in targeted, innovative ways,” says Khurana. “The Kinvolved team has demonstrated a commitment to eradicating chronic absenteeism through a systems level approach and meaningful engagement to support students. We’re excited to support their efforts to expand into new communities.”

Also included in the round is the Twilio.org Impact Fund, which invests in social enterprises that use innovative communications strategies and demonstrate the potential to scale. The organization recently announced it had met its goal of powering one billion messages for good five years early, and referenced its impact investment in Kinvolved as part of its efforts to help reach one billion people each year.

Erin Reilly, VP of Social Impact and GM of Twilio.org, shares that, “when it comes to education, it can be hard to bridge communication gaps among school staff, students, and families; these missed connections can sometimes have dire consequences for kids. By leveraging communications technologies, Kinvolved offers simple, intuitive tools that break down barriers. We are excited to welcome Kinvolved into the Impact Fund family.”

Other investors include:

  • New York Ventures, the venture capital investment arm of Empire State Development, which will also serve as a board observer.
  • Excell Technology Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in seed and early-stage technology startups in New York State. Excell also holds a seat on Kinvolved’s board of directors.
  • GingerBread Capital, a venture capital fund founded by Linnea Roberts that invests in women founders and entrepreneurs, and helps women-led business access the resources they need to scale successful enterprises.
  • u2i, a software development firm that builds tight, passionate, agile software development teams to help startups and growing businesses achieve success. u2i has been Kinvolved’s technology partner since 2015.

“These investments represent an alignment between these organizations’ missions and Kinvolved’s commitment to achieving educational equity by engaging educators, families, and communities in the effort to get every child to every class, every day,” says Miriam Altman, co-founder and CEO of Kinvolved.

Kinvolved will use the funds to support sales growth, deepen product research and development, and expand its client services offerings. The organization’s 2016–17 Impact Report quantified the effects of the organization’s software and services on school systems:

Data from its 2017–2018 impact study show impressive first-year gains, and Kinvolved will release those findings in its forthcoming impact report.

“We develop software and services that strengthen the bonds between and among students’ support systems, and that raise awareness of attendance issues before they become unmanageable,” says Kinvolved co-founder and Chief Product Officer Alexandra Meis. “Those are the most powerful levers we can pull to improve student achievement and offer all students an equitable chance at a high-quality education.”

About Kinvolved

Kinvolved is a social enterprise on a mission to increase student achievement by minimizing absenteeism. Our holistic approach combines technology tools and human interventions to change the deeply ingrained behaviors and external factors affecting student attendance and chronic absence, including poverty, racism, and socio-economic exclusion. Learn more at www.kinvolved.com.

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Media Contact:

Jillian Lubow, Strategic Communications

jill@kinvolved.com

How much funding does your district leave on the table?

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No matter how hard school districts strive to better serve the children in their communities, the reality is that if students don’t show up to school, none of it matters.

On top of that, districts lose funding when students are absent, making it even harder for teachers and leaders to achieve their goals.

Just like the communities we partner with, Kinvolved is committed to helping more kids make it to school each day—and the initial results from our 2017–2018 impact study tell us there’s reason to be excited:

Districts using KiNVO to track attendance and engage families average a 2% increase in average daily attendance (ADA) in their first year—and that translates to a serious budget boost.

We want to help districts find more funds to educate, engage, and inspire their students, so we looked at state funding formulas across the country and built customized calculators you can use to find out how improving attendance can also improve your district’s bottom line.

Using the calculator is easy:

  • Go to https://kinvolved.com/attendance-calculator/
  • Select your state from the dropdown
  • Enter your district’s ADA (if your state doesn’t have a specialized ADA formula, we may ask for your per-student funding amount, too)

We’ll automatically estimate your funding increase. Then if you’re interested in turning that estimate into a real-life return, get in touch.

Your motivation to take attendance every day

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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.

Daily attendance tracking allows teachers to spot early warning signs, plan interventions, and monitor improvements. Teachers and leaders benefit from learning how to make a habit of taking attendance each day, reviewing the data regularly, and learning to let the data inform conversations with students, teachers, and families.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

The Kinvolved team partners with school systems to strategize ways to boost utilization rates and make attendance data more accurate.

Ms. S. worked with her Kinvolved coach to send weekly emails to her teachers that include attendance rates, the effect of KiNVO usage on attendance, students who are improving their attendance, and teachers who take attendance in 100% of their classes each week.

As the result of a Kinvolved coaching session, Ms. B. now sends out monthly attendance newsletters: “I spotlight teachers with high utilization, and once other teachers see it, they think ‘Ok, I want to use it too.’”

Putting it into practice

  • Teachers: Participate in Kinvolved professional learning sessions to increase your comfort with KiNVO, learn its full feature set, use the software with fidelity, and increase your usage.
  • Leaders: Work with the Kinvolved team to learn and understand the barriers that prevent teachers from taking attendance daily, then receive tailored suggestions about how to boost teacher utilization.

Engagement for educators on the go

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

When parents try to reach a teacher or administrator over the phone, they’ll likely reach a phone ringing at an empty desk or have to leave a message that won’t be received until after dismissal. The resulting games of phone tag cause frustration and can undermine important relationships.

“If you call my desk, you’d never reach me,” says Harlem dean Mr. W., who is constantly away from his office and walking around the building providing student support.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

KiNVO makes it easier for parents to reach school staff during their hectic days. For Mr. W., this close connection strengthens relationships: “Through text, I’ll get it and be able to text back. You’re not waiting until the end of the day to get what you need.”

Educators can also reach parents in real time, without being intrusive, via KiNVO’s text messaging feature, ensuring parents get the information they need no matter where they are. Mr. G., a guidance counselor in the Bronx, described being able to get in touch with a mother as soon as he realized her child was cutting class. When the parent saw the text, she called Mr. G. “from her cell phone, while standing on a street corner”—and solving the problem did not have to wait “until she got home and saw a missed call.”

With KiNVO, Ms. S. at a Brooklyn high school appreciates that she can ping parents when a tardy student shows up. “As soon as they come in, I take out my phone and send a quick message: ‘Just walking in.’ It takes ten seconds and it’s something I wasn’t able to do before.”

Putting it into practice

  • At the end of each day, sort by unread messages your Kinbox—your KiNVO message inbox—to be sure you reply to anything that may have slipped through the cracks.
    • Pro tip: To save time, sign up for daily notifications of unread messages.
  • Create in KiNVO a template bank of your commonly used messages, then simply customize your notes with the student’s name before sending.
  • Perform and narrate your KiNVO activities, such as swiping to take attendance or texting a positive message to parents, in front of your class. This will help you develop a routine while also building student investment in what you’re doing.