TalkingPoints: connecting and educating teachers and parents
Support parent-teacher partnerships and engagement to drive student success through technology - a multilingual family engagement and communication platform
Problem: In the US alone, there are 40 million low-income, minority students who are falling behind by 2 years compared to their peers. If every parent is fully involved in their students’ education, all students can succeed at school - academic research shows that parent engagement predicts a student’s academic success twice as much as how rich that family is. Unfortunately, in underserved or marginalized communities, families face multiple but surmountable barriers to actively engaging. Parents themselves don’t have the same educational background or level as the teachers, which lead to mutual misconceptions, made worse when they don’t speak the same language. Teachers and parents in these communities are also busy, are rarely adequately trained or educated. So while students spend more than 70% of their time outside school, parents struggle to work with their children to best support them
Solution: TalkingPoints help parents, students and teachers build partnerships with each other through an intelligent messaging app that uses machine learning and natural language processing to provide personalized coaching for parents and teachers on how to support their students. TalkingPoints product has three major components.
1) Connecting parents with their students’ teachers and with each other so that they can build trusting, respectful relationships through effective communication, without language, tech or cultural barriers through the two-way translated communication platform
2) Training educators through in-product nudges and coaching modules that help them work with parents and students.
3) Educating the parents on how best to help the children both at home with their learning and how best to engage with their children based on personalized content and chatbot-like experience.
We provide personalized education/training for both parents and teachers depending on who they are, who the student is, how they have behaved in the past, what the topic of conversation is between teachers and parents, what’s been learnt in the classroom and past behaviors. Educators and the parents get coaching within the platform, when it is actionable. For example, a parent can start communicating in their own languages with their child’s teacher through mobile app or SMS. TalkingPoints then suggests to the parent what actionable steps they can take to ensure to help the child. Parents and teachers are also able to communicate in their own languages freely through TalkingPoints
How are we changing the world? With TalkingPoints, we're unlocking the incredible yet untapped potential of parents and families and teachers to support their children's learning. Our vision is to expand to serve the billions of families and educators globally through technology so that no matter what backgrounds they come from, language they speak, what culture they are brought up in, all students can be successful in their learning through close partnerships formed between parents and teachers. We help every parent become an educator themselves, regardless of who they are.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:San Francisco, CA, USA
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
Our solution's stage of development:
What makes our solution innovative:
We provide a tech-driven solution to parent and teacher education/training - by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, we’re able to personalize the education through a data-driven, yet, accessible, and scalable way. We also specifically build for low-income, minority and immigrant communities. By contrast, other training programs in the past have been in-person workshops which are time-consuming, high-touch and with uniform content. We also use innovative technology to power our translation combining machine-learning and humans, allowing for culturally relevant translations to enable two-way conversations between teachers and parents, which is becoming an increasing need.
How technology is integral to our solution:
Our multilingual parent engagement platform is a software intended to solve the problem of parent-teacher partnership and training - this use of technology makes us highly scalable and accessible to reach a large number of people. We're developing a natural language processing algorithm and a machine learning engine to analyze topics of conversations and to build a content recommendation engine. As this continues to grow (which is at a fast pace), our algorithms and chatbot experience will improve significantly, and be able to provide content and nudges in anticipation (and not retrospectively), and continuously improve the content through the process.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
1) Grow to impact at least 0.5million families, educators and students in low-income, minority, immigrant populations in the US and beyond
2) Engagement: TalkingPoints will facilitate 5 million conversations between schools/teachers and parents
3) Product and technology: Fully build out the current prototype version of the multilingual engagement platform with personalized nudges and content for educators and teachers -- by refining the NLP and machine learning models on topics of conversation and personalization of content
4) Content: Establish content partnerships for parent/teacher education materials
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
Our 5 year vision is to unlock the potential of 15 million families and educators in the US and more globally, to support their children's learning through the TalkingPoints parent engagement platform. We plan to do this through 1) growing the number of our institutional partnerships including state/federal governments, school districts, educational non-profits as well as international organizations who reach the undeserved 2) activating teacher and parent communities across different geographies and 3) doubling down on word-of-mouth growth.
Our promotional video:
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
The countries where we currently operate:
Where we plan to expand in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
TalkingPoints has grown to 150,000 beneficiaries, solely through word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth has travelled via teachers, principals and district administrators through school network professional development trainings, conferences, social media and press. To date, we have also secured 50+ partnerships with education institutions, which has doubled every year in the last two years. These partners also give us data access and top-down community outreach opportunities, as well as act as referral customers. Since launching the TalkingPoints for Schools product, we have had 100% customer retention and 100% pilot conversion speaking to our ability to achieve impact
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
Since 2015, TalkingPoints has enabled 5million+ conversations between 150,000 parents and teachers, with 80%+ from underserved communities and ⅔ non-English speaking. Third party research showed that TalkingPoints increases parent engagement for 100% of non-English speaking parents, with 90% of parents having more conversations about school at home with their children. TalkingPoints drove a 4x increase in homework turn in rates and 6x increase in at-home reading participation with 90%+ of teachers reporting that they feel better connected with their parents and better equipped to work with them as partners.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
In the next 12months, we expect to be serving at least half a million low-income, underserved parents, families and students together with their teachers using the TalkingPoints platform. For the parents and teachers, we expect them to have increased their capacity and knowledge to support their children's learning, leading to improvements in student performance and confidence in their learning ability. In 3 years, by 2021, we expect to reach at least 5million beneficiaries through the platform, not just in the US but globally, especially in underserved and culturally diverse communities (e.g., refugee communities)
How our solution team is organized:
How many people work on our solution team:
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
TalkingPoints came out of Heejae’s personal experience growing up as a Korean immigrant student and seeing her mother was able to make a difference in her education because she had the ‘voice’. 90% of 6-person full-time team grew up as immigrants and/or minorities and speak 9+ languages. We have 30+ years of experience with business, education, and technology, including experiences in McKinsey, Stanford MBA, education ministries, Teach First, KIPP, Stanford MEd, and government technology/systems.
Our revenue model:
We’ve grown word of mouth from teachers to teachers with zero marketing budget in the last 2 years showing that there is a market need for TalkingPoints. Our cost of customer acquisition has therefore been 0. If you’re a school or school district or any other institution, we charge to be on our platform through software licensing fees - on a per student basis for the school year. Our revenue has grown so far without a sales team and solely driven by inbound requests, and we believe that this can grow this significantly in the next 5 years through outbound sales and with more resources devoted to it and a coherent sales strategy. Despite being a non-profit, 15% of our operating budget was via earned income (v. 10% in 2016), our 2018 goal is to reach 20%, and by 2020 to 50%.
Why we are applying to Solve:
We’re excited about being part of a peer network with organizations who are doing similar work to exchange learnings, advice and support. Through Solve’s global network, we want to learn from and meet with potential partners within and outside the US. We're looking to grow our institutional partners (both domestic and international education, informal and formal education institutions) but currently do not have networks or exposure outside of the US. Also, given our resourcing requirements to meet our scaling goals, Solve's connections will be invaluable to ensuring access to a broader pool of technical/financial/strategic resources.
The key barriers for our solution:
1) Partnering with organizations to give product feedback: We're excited to meet organizations working on delivering more accessible and scalable training to educators, not just within the parent-teacher partnership and engagement space TalkingPoints is in but more broadly. We want to be able to work with educator training organizations/programs who can work with TalkingPoints in refining our product to deliver digital content to educators/teachers
2) International expansion: our solution has potential to scale massively across the US and more globally, and would be great to explore this opportunity through Solve
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:
- Heejae Lim Founder and CEO, TalkingPoints