Putting Teachers First

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Evan Wilson, WH ’22

Thanks to the support of Career Services and the generosity of their donors, I was able to spend this summer giving back to a nonprofit organization that I can attribute my choice of career path to. I started this journey during my senior year of high school as a student at Coded by Kids, a Philadelphia based nonprofit that focuses on teaching underrepresented students how to be the tech leaders of tomorrow. Now, using the skills I learned from the program and my time leading a software development agency grown out of CBK my sophomore and junior years, I helped the organization transform the way it manages its data to improve the lives of their students.

The challenge was complex, and one that many education focused nonprofits and schools face daily — spreadsheets. CBK did not want to invest the thousands of dollars necessary to purchase a typical student information system (the type of data management solution most schools use) because these SIS platforms did not fit their needs. The problem with SIS platforms can be attributed to three main factors:

  1. They are built to store a small set of basic student information (grades, attendance, basic demographics, etc.) that made up a tiny subset of the data that CBK was collecting to measure the effectiveness of their programs.
  2. Especially due to Covid-19, CBK was using multiple tech products to provide instruction. Most of these platforms do not directly connect with SIS platforms, or even if they do it costs a few thousand dollars per integration (something most nonprofits and schools don’t want to spend because they know their data needs will change fairly frequently).
  3. It’s a challenge and a pain for most teachers and staff to use SIS platforms, which is why an increasing number of schools are hiring full time data analysts to manage these systems.

I set out to solve these problems this summer along with a fellow CBK alumni, so we took a deep dive into how the organization managed and analyzed their data at the time. We learned that the team used spreadsheets to manage their data, but that the sheets did not “talk to each other” so there were significant inefficiencies in how data was used. We decided to build a way to connect all of the data from these separate spreadsheets into a data warehouse, and automatically push that data to a dashboard that the team could pull reports from easily and quickly. We tested the solution with the team and received positive feedback, something we were definitely proud of.

This experience actually inspired my now co-founder and I to start a startup to solve this exact problem at scale. To date we’ve worked with over 50 other educators at close to 20 different schools, have raised a pre-seed round of venture capital investment, and are getting ready to release our first version of the product for the Fall 2021 school year. Our website is scaffolded.io.

Without the generosity of Career Services and their donors, I would not have an early stage startup and a plan to re-imagine the way educators are managing their data by putting teachers first.

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