The Situation

TalkingPoints drives student success in low-income, diverse areas through building strong partnerships across families, schools, and communities. TalkingPoints is playing two critical roles for schools during the rapid shift to hybrid-distance learning. The first is communication of information about critical human needs, such as free and reduced meals, access to social welfare and COVID-19 related healthcare information as well as internet accessibility. Getting this information to the “hardest to reach” families is essential in ensuring their wellbeing and flattening the curve. Without this safety net in place, schools and districts believe students cannot begin learning. The second role is to access remote learning. 

 In managing through the impact of this global pandemic, the schools' priority is to stay connected with the families of students. Engaging families is critical at this time for educators and schools alike because it is the only way to remain connected, particularly in low-income communities where the only way in which they are able to communicate with teachers is text message. As of March 2020, TalkingPoints has served more than 500,000 students across 12,000 schools and facilitated more than 10 million conversations between educators and families. The need for TalkingPoints has never been greater, not only for supporting distance learning, but to support access to critical needs and information that will help flatten the curve. For many families, TalkingPoints is the only way they could stay in touch with schools to access resources during periods of remote learning, since it is accessible both via SMS and mobile applications.

The Roadblock

Since March, millions of U.S. students have shifted to remote learning in order to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. As the education system navigated this transition, communication with families became critical. The reliance of technology, specifically SMS, increased. And, barriers such as language and access among low-income, non-English speaking communities were illuminated. Having experienced a massive increase in demand among teachers and families, the organization had more than 700,000 teachers and families waiting to be on-boarded to the platform. Despite moving quickly to meet the needs of their community, TalkingPoints did not have the organizational capacity to keep pace.

Open Road's Response

Open Road provided a $100,000 charitable grant to TalkingPoints to meet their increase in demand and grow from 500,000 students and families in February to over 1.5 million and leverage partnership with schools and districts from 12,000 to over 20,000 by the end of the current school year.

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