Social Enterprise Created at NYU Wagner is Improving Student Attendance
It has practically become the stuff of legend: The chance meeting of Miriam Altman and Alexandra Meis on their first day at NYU Wagner.
The two were brought together at a faculty mixer. With a shared background working on the front lines in the New York City social services community, at a school and a hospital, respectively, they developed a strong rapport—and went on to launch, while pursuing their MPA degrees, a successful company, Kinvolved.
They were aided by Wagner faculty, as they entered a national policy competition that their product—a digital app for teachers—won.
Today, five years after Altman and Meis began attending NYU Wagner, their Kinvo app is used at 100 high-needs schools and education nonprofits in New York and other cities. It gives teachers the ability to notify parents and other guardians instantaneously when their child is absent from class or late. The app, which can automatically translate messages into many different languages, has automated the traditional school attendance-keeping process, while fostering greater parental involvement.
Altman is a former history teacher at a New York City high school. She graduated from NYU Wagner in May 2013, along with Meis, a former parent advocate for Bronx Lebanon Hospital.
“Since we launched, a mountain of research, policies, and media attention has demonstrated how attendance is crucial to the future graduation and success of students, starting as early as pre-K,” explains Altman, the company CEO. Cofounder Meis is the Chief Product Officer.
And, in actuality, schools using the Kinvo app have seen their school attendance rise each year at much greater rates than the average across their districts. Lateness, meanwhile, has declined.
Altman and Meis are at work on a new digital product for City University of New York (CUNY) students. As a result of being named finalists in a recent Robin Hood Foundation competition, they are participating in a randomized control trial to test their newest product, the Campus Kit, which allows community college students to self-monitor and improve their class attendance, the strongest indicator of graduation.
In the end, Kinvolved’s bottom line depends on a broad and durable social impact. Kinvo already serves 50,000 users.
“We really do owe so much to NYU Wagner,” sums up Altman.