Improving Attendance with Kinvolved

by Miriam Altman, Alexandria Sharpe '14
February 7, 2014

Today’s double posts come from an alumni and student intern involved in this January’s Innovate NYC program. Alexandria Sharpe ’14 interned with Kinvolved, a social venture started by alum Miriam Altman '08 that aims to improve K-12 attendance in underserved communities with real-time family engagement and data-driven interventions.

Miriam: Kinvolved had the fortune of adding four fantastic Brown students to our team this January: Alexandria Sharpe ’14 directed our Growth Strategy, researching and advising on expansion to districts, schools, and community-based organizations in her recommended regions; Christian Petroske ’15 created a stellar Communications Plan, through which he got Kinvolved featured in the Journal for education technology and elevated Kinvolved’s social media presence; and Chelsea Hartigan (14 and Leanne Block ’17 teamed up to collect and analyze data to assess Kinvolved’s impact on family engagement and student attendance. They got a real view of NYC, traveling to our partner schools in the South Bronx, Harlem, and Queens to meet with teachers, administrators, parents, and students. Through their analysis, they provided recommendations that Kinvolved will deliver to each school to further improve family engagement for student success, as well as general recommendations Kinvolved can suggest to all of our partner schools and community-based organizations in NYC and MN.

An early stage start up company, Kinvolved’s full-time team is just my Co-Founder Alexandra Meis and me. Though we are building our team to bring on a Lead Engineer and part time Communications Strategist, we are clearly a small team. So, on January 6th, we literally tripled in size by bringing on four students in the Innovate NYC program. I’ll admit, I was a little concerned about taking this leap, and unsure of what it would be like to manage four new team members, but these students made our job easy. They were incredibly self-directed, diligent, and organized. Not only did I get a glimpse into managing a larger team, Kinvolved benefitted from the work of these students, who literally laid the foundation of our business in three key areas: growth and expansion, communications and social media, and impact assessment.

On their final day with Kinvolved, we had a team lunch, after which each student presented his or her project findings. Even better, they each documented their processes in a “handbook” for future team members to use the tools and processes they had developed. They essentially documented the daily job descriptions in their respective areas for three future Kinvolved employees.

All in all, we were incredibly impressed by our Innovate NYC team (though certainly not surprised by the caliber of their work). We hope they learned as much as we, enjoyed working at Kinvolved and connecting with other social venture startups in our office at The Blue Ridge Foundation, and certainly hope to snag them back to work with us over the summer.

I’m excited that I’ll be back on campus speaking to students in Leading Social Ventures on 2/26. We are so glad to be part of the social innovation community at Brown, and hope to further opportunities for other students interested in our work and the field. If you’re interested in learning more about or working with Kinvolved, get in touch ([email protected])!

Alexandria: A day in the life of an Innovate NYC intern!

8am-ish: Wake up and secure a seat on the sometimes-unreliable bus. Listen to music or read my latest book on the ride over to work.

9am: Arrive at work. After a few morning greetings, I begin my work for the day by researching schools that could benefit from Kinvolved's software. I also look up research and policies related to attendance and absenteeism as well as search for community-based organizations that schools can partner with.

11am: The mail may arrive around this time and Ella, the office dog, gets pretty excited to experience these brief encounters. Ella is a super friendly dog who loves when employees in the office pet her and she especially loves to come around when you pull out your lunch.

12:30: Order lunch. It is around this point that I gather to eat with my fellow Innovate NYC'ers and various people from the different tech start-ups at Blue Ridge Foundation come to the kitchen to eat and socialize. There is always someone new to meet in my short time here and it is nice getting to learn how other people's organizations are using technology to enact social change. 

1:30pm: Resume work. Sometimes I travel with co workers to visit a school using Kinvolved’s software. Kinvolved works with schools in Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx.

3pm: Head to the counter in our kitchen that holds all the freebies. Each month a different Blue Ridge Foundation organization is in charge of bringing in snacks, sometimes there are even free books!

5pm-ish: It's time to pack up, though not always time to head home. There may be an Innovate NYC event, a Brown community meet-up filled with soon-to-be and full-fledged alumni, a reunion with old friends, or a happy hour with all the employees from the other tech companies!