This NYC Startup Just Raised Another $1.54M for its Sophisticated Approach to Prevent Student Absenteeism

Attendance is a leading indicator of a student’s success, and Kinvolved has created an innovative and holistic approach to combat student absenteeism. Kinvolved’s web and mobile applications directly integrate with each school districts’ systems of record and enable automated, two-way, translated SMS, email, and robocall communications. Their offering facilitates opening the lines of communication between school and home, creating a positive relationship. However, Kinvolved’s solution isn’t just technology-based, it also developed an intuitive school and district consulting curricula based on its Guide to Family Partnerships: Intention, Empathy, and Engagement to further prevent absenteeism.  The company is already working with 150 public schools in NYC alone and has expanded its offering to school districts seven states.

AlleyWatch sat down with founder Miriam Altman to discuss building a socially mindful company that encourages engagement within education and the creation of safe, positive learning environments.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

We raised a $1.54M Seed II round, building on an earlier $1M Seed round and $500K in grants and awards-based funding.

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK)—a global venture philanthropy firm supporting early-stage, high-impact social enterprises—led this round with participation from Impact FundNew York Ventures (VC arm of Empire State Development) Excell Technology VenturesGingerBread Capital, and u2i. Several notable angel investors with industry knowledge and experience also participated in the round.

47Tell us about the product or service that Kinvolved offers.

Kinvolved is a social enterprise that takes a holistic approach to fight student absenteeism. Combining our technology tools and human interventions, we help bring increased funding to school districts, create more economically viable communities, and improve graduation rates.

Our primary product is KiNVO, a web and mobile application that directly integrates with school districts’ systems of record and enables automated, two-way, translated SMS, email, and robocall communications. Our product opens lines of communications, often for the first time, between school and home, breaking pre-existing barriers, engaging families, and creating positive school cultures. KiNVO also provides insights into student, class, school, and district attendance trends that inform interventions. Research and our own impact reporting proves that this method significantly improves student attendance.

However, knowing the education landscape well, we don’t believe that technology alone will solve absenteeism—a challenge that is often reflective of deep societal issues related to poverty, race, and equity. Thus, we have also developed a school and district consulting curricula based on our Guide to Family Partnerships: Intention, Empathy, and Engagement which complements the technology. We offer direct consulting to school systems, but also hold seminars and large community summits based on this curriculum.

What inspired you to start Kinvolved?

I started my career ten years ago as a high school history teacher in the NYC Department of Education. The most prominent and foundational challenge my students faced was inconsistent attendance—on any given day, easily one-third of my students missed or were late to class.

As I started to meet parents, I realized that many were not receiving information from school when their children were absent, because their phone numbers had changed, or they spoke a language other than English, or they simply did not answer robocalls, especially while they were at work. When I started to build personal relationships and communication loops with parents, attendance almost immediately increased for most students. Yet, without the tools to efficiently communicate with all my students’ families, the efforts were piecemeal and inefficient.