Reducing achievement gaps in education is a challenge faced globally, with passionate individuals in diverse corners of the world developing solutions that can transcend national borders.
This is the case with Todd Hoffman of Mend the Gap, a Pittsburgh-based startup which supports schools in introducing technology solutions to improve student outcomes and Lucas Espinoza and the team of Kimche, a Santiago-Chile-based technology company which utilizes big data and machine learning to identify student risk cases which affect performance in the classroom. Both founders and their companies share a vision for accessible education for everyone. As Lucas put it, “For me education is the most important thing in life. In Chile and America there are many educational gaps especially for economic issues. I want all children to have the same opportunities no matter where they are born.”
As of May 22, the two companies entered into a partnership in which Mend the Gap will offer the Kimche platform for adoption into U.S. schools to assist in visualizing student performance and identifying and alerting teachers to a variety of factors which put students at-risk for lower performance in the classroom. This is exciting news for both companies. For Kimche, this partnereship expands the reach of their platform into North America. For Todd Mend the Gap, “partnering with Kimche is the fulfillment of a dream for making school-based data management more actionable and visually stunning. Our two separate companies working as one to support more students and schools is what this partnership is all about.”
The Kimche platform automates data processing, integrates with the data collection already used in the schools and provides customized data visualizations based on the needs and factors specified by the schools. Artificial intelligence aides teachers in identifying potential risks and repeated causes based on the data collected by teachers, maintaining high security standards. The Kimche platform is already being used in schools throughout Chile, serving over 40,000 students.
Lucas and Todd were introduced in late February after Lucas applied and was selected for Idea Foundry’s Innovation Bridge Program - Chile & Pittsburgh. During this time, Todd and Mend the Gap had been participating in Idea Foundry’s Impact Innovations Accelerator in Pittsburgh. The Idea Foundry team noted the clear symmetry between the mission’s of Kimche and Mend the Gap and worked with the two founders to explore opportunities for collaboration.
As part of the delegation of participants in Idea Foundry’s Innovation Bridge Program, Lucas traveled to Pittsburgh for two weeks in April 2019 to understand the business landscape in Pittsburgh and develop business contacts. During this time, Lucas and Todd tirelessly arranged meetings with school districts across Southwestern Pennsylvania and Ohio to discuss in-person the technology platform and gauge the interest of the school administrators. They received encouraging feedback from these meetings including interest in piloting the program. Moving forward, Kimche and Mend the Gap will be working to adapt the platform to U.S. school systems and begin implementing the solution.