By Nancy Dahlberg
Samantha Pratt and her team at Miami-based tech startup KlickEngage were selected for AT&T’s 6th annual Aspire Accelerator class, a cohort of eight ed-tech startups from around the nation focused on everything from teaching science through online gaming to increasing student engagement through virtual reality.
In addition to a $125,000 investment from AT&T, KlickEngage will spend six months receiving the mentoring, resources, services and expertise needed to drive change and help reach students across the country.
KlickEngage is a virtual check in system that allows students to self-report their emotional well-being daily through an app-based survey system, said Pratt, founder and CEO. Teachers receive the information in real time and are able to respond in the moment or identify trends and patterns.
KlickEngage is building out digital toolkits to help support the community once they have the data with action steps to take, she added. “And in light of the current climate we are in with virtual learning, we are rethinking some ways we can partner with programs that are widely used by teachers.”
During the COVID-19 crisis, the startup is making its beta app available for free through the end of the academic school year. “Right now we are looking at ways to help so we really want people to engage with what we are offering for free, and keep an open mind about what this time period means for mental health as a whole and how much harder it is going to be going forward for people to navigate the space,” Pratt said.
Teachers using KlickEngage are following up with students through text, email or phone calls more often during these COVID times. “COVID is impacting families in such diverse ways, with job loss, food insecurity and so many other complex traumas these students are facing and there is no escape outlet for them,” said Pratt, who is an alumnus of the Teach for America program in Miami-Dade and recently received her Master’s in Education from Harvard. She was also chosen for Forbes 30Under30 this year.
KlickEngage is being used in a local pilot with Teach for America as well as by some charter schools and individual teacher classrooms. Pratt said KickEngage has new contracts starting in the fall, including expanding its relationship with Teach for America in several more regions, going from approximately 776 students this semester to several thousand students in August. The startup is also expanding the Miami-Dade pilot.
Pratt likes the customized approach of the Aspire program, and is looking forward to getting help from AT&T’s instructors and mentors in marketing as well as tech development. Right now, KlickEngage is a team of three plus interns; Pratt is currently in Boston but the other team members are in Miami.
“KlickEngage’s mission -- to use technology to empower students to promote their own socio-emotional wellness – is incredibly important right now, and Samantha is making it more accessible for students and teachers alike to check-in. I’m excited to watch KlickEngage grow through the AT&T Accelerator Program, and for it to positively impact more teachers and students throughout South Florida,” said Samantha Hoare, Executive Director of Teach for America-Miami-Dade.
Combined, the 35 previous Aspire Accelerator participants, which include Maxeme Tuchman and the Caribu team, are reaching more than 32 million students and have raised more than $48 million since participating in programs.
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