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Leveraging AI chat for improved school attendance and student outcomes

February 18, 2022

Originally Posted: https://ronlevin.substack.com/p/blog-5-allhere

CompanyAllHere operates a chatbot software solution designed to reduce chronic absenteeism among students, as well as assist parents in the enrollment process. The company’s software uses conversational artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to power a bot-driven text-messaging platform providing schools a way to give one-on-one support, enabling students and their families to get proactive help and find the answers they need when they need it.

HQ Location & Year Founded: Boston, 2016

FounderJoanna (Smith) Griffin, Founder and CEO

Photo credit: Mamadi Doumboya

Funds Raised and VC Investors: $12.1 million from Alumni VenturesBoston Impact InitiativeGratitude RailroadHarvard Innovation LabsOperator CollectivePotencia VenturesRethink Capital PartnersSoftBank Opportunity FundSpero Ventures

Founder’s Background: Prior to launching AllHere, Joanna managed family engagement, school improvement initiatives, and taught mathematics at public schools in Boston and Miami. After extensive research and launching her own chronic absenteeism campaign, Smith formed AllHere to support school and district leaders looking to improve learning and life outcomes for K-12 students. Joanna has been featured in Forbes, EdSurge, CBS News, and District Administration, providing expertise on boosting attendance, strengthening student engagement, and combining artificial intelligence, proactive nudges, and rigorous research to improve student outcomes. Joanna received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, cum laude, from the Harvard Extension School.

1.    Where did the idea for AllHere originate?

The idea originated with my own experience as a 6th and 8th grade math teacher. I was overwhelmed with student absenteeism stacking up and was equally frustrated by the feeble and non-innovative communication tools that were being used and getting no results.

2.    What is the key problem that AllHere intends to solve?

We look at attendance and engagement as a skill-building rather than a motivation problem. AllHere is trying to solve the gaps in attendance and engagement. We engage heavily with families through 24/7 support with guidance and coaching over text and we have a platform that allows schools and families to engage at scale. We break initial enrollment and retention into a series of micro steps that help families complete the process through proactive nudges and assistance at whatever moment it is needed. Our solutions resonate particularly well with large, urban public school districts.

3.    Discuss the product and what differentiates it.

Our chatbot is powered by conversational AI. There is a unique chat for each and every family that handles school-related questions. It can also be proactive. We deal with attendance through personalized intervention with families and have a large impact on outcomes.

4.    What are the company’s key accomplishments to date?

AllHere has worked with three million students from nine thousand schools to date. Our tools have driven a 17% increase in attendance. We have reduced failure by 38%. Our platform has even helped improve student GPAs by one-third of a point.

5.    What lies ahead in the plans for AllHere?

We are taking what we’ve built beyond attendance and enrollment. Our goal is to support K-12 families and students during every stage of their education journey, from enrollment to graduation.

6.    What are the long-term strategic objectives?

Our long-term objective is to grow our reach and expand its impact throughout the US. We intend to eventually leverage our tools in areas that include student health and wellbeing, IT services, and very importantly, academics.

Ron’s Take

Beyond the basic human needs of food, shelter, medicine, and a livable planet, is there anything more vital to the survival and advancement of our species than education? Addressing problems and inequities in the US education systems is a topic of volumes of books, research reports, and philosophical debate. However, there are certain basic or “low hanging” problems that are solvable at scale with the right degree of attention and clever use of technology. By being able to engage parents and families on topics ranging from attendance to wellness to academics, AllHere is positioned to forge tighter relationships between schools and student families. AllHere takes a focus on urban public school districts where issues such as student absenteeism are acute but the desire for practical solutions is real. Joanna and her team, through their conversational AI chat messaging platform, will be setting the course for tangible enhanced educational outcomes across a vast population one student at a time.

Disclaimer: Alumni Ventures invested in the Series A round of AllHere in mid-2021.

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