Hi, we're Kelvin. Our story is a bit unconventional, but if you’re curious and have a couple of minutes we’d love to share it with you.
We designed, built, and grew Illuminate Education’s Data & Assessment system from a startup to one of the nation’s biggest K-12 assessment tools—now used by over 17M students. But after a great run—and a combined thirty-something years—it was time to hang up our hats and apply our tech skills to a new worthwhile problem.
We went back and forth about what was next. We knew we wanted to build something meaningful, but what? That's when we started to reflect on our own experiences as students. Each of us had a tough time in school for different reasons despite having some advantages. Baxter—or Julian—was dealing with stuff at home and the fallout from childhood trauma; Zach moved around a lot and never felt settled or connected in school; Matt hid out in teachers’ classrooms during breaks to avoid being bullied.
This experience wasn't unique to us. Through our research, we discovered too many young people have similar struggles—or worse—and it’s these “headwinds”—like bullying, family instability, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), anxiety and depression, trauma, poverty, racism—that often make it tough for students to push ahead and reach their potential.
This idea gained traction as we spoke to our Educator friends. Time and time again they mentioned the importance of teacher-student relationships, and we began to understand the meaningful impact these often-intangible factors have on the outcomes we all want for students. Things like a positive learning environment, social-emotional learning, and trauma-informed instruction have been shown to keep kids in school, reduce violence in schools, and even accelerate a student's learning by 2-3 years in some cases. (source: Hattie’s meta-analysis about what works best for learning.)
That settled it for us. We knew what we wanted to do. So, we built Kelvin to help educators collect, understand, and act on student feedback. (Named after the unit of measurement.) For us, this is a very personal mission, and we hope that you and other courageous educators at your school(s) will join us in building healthier, happier places to learn so that all students can have the future we hope for them.
With humility and gratitude,
Baxter-Julian, Zach, and Matt
Former Product at Illuminate Education (2012-2018). Former Product at Simple Finance and GoGuardian
Founding team at Illuminate Education (2009-2017). Former Development at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (DataDirector)