Creating an outstanding solution to a complex public policy challenge, three NYU Wagner students have won the Fels Institute of Government’s “National Public Policy Challenge” with their invention of a mobile app for classroom teachers. The app lets teachers take attendance quickly and easily, and sends an automatic text message to caretakers of students who fail to show up or arrive late.
NYU Wagner students Miriam Altman (MPA), Barrie Charney-Golden (MBA-MPA), and Alexandra Meis (MPA) beat out teams from five schools of public policy in the Challenge, organized by the University of Pennsylvania’s public management school. The Wagner team was awarded $15,000 on April 22 after presenting its “Kinvolved” app before a distinguished panel of judges from the public and private sectors. This National Invitational Competition event was held at Philadelphia’s National Convention Center.
It wasn’t the first time Kinvolved has made an impression. In February, the team won both the regional and global phases of the BeMyApp Mobile App Olympics. It was also a semi-finalist in the Global Social Venture Competition 2012 and selected to compete in the New York State Business Plan Competition.
Altman is a former New York City high school teacher. Meis is a former Americorps volunteer and clinic coordinator for a Bronx autism center. And Charney Golden formerly taught in Asia and founded Cambodian Threads, a fair trade fashion company. With this background, and as friends studying public administration at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University (NYU Wagner) they founded Kinvolved and have been working strategically to turn their app idea into a reality.
The three are now involved in discussions with the New York City Department of Education as well as individual principals and schools to pilot their attendance notification system this summer, having leveraged support from several principals, teachers, and parent coordinators. The team will use feedback from the pilot to strengthen the app, designed to create a simple conduit for communication between teachers and caregivers, and which eventually may include community-development components.