Events  |  August 14, 2017

Pundits at the White House

Pundits participates at first-ever White House Foster Care and Technology Hackathon

Along with our partners Colab LA, Pundits creator Growth Education Technology participated at the first-ever White House Foster Care & Technology Hackathon. Part of the White House’s commitment to address approximately half a million children in and out of foster care each day in the US—as well as those aged out of the system—the hackathon aims to identify technological solutions to provide greater access and support to these youth.

Foster youth are particularly vulnerable to educational inequalities due to instability, inconsistency, and lack of support services. Approximately one-third move at least five times while in the foster care system, making it easy for them to lag behind their peers in school, and often necessitating repetition of one or more grades. Less than 50 percent of foster youth graduate from high school and only three percent graduate from college.

Tutoring is a mechanism of support for students who are behind in class, or who need additional motivation or reinforcement to excel academically, however, it is often of benefit only to an elite few, who can afford expensive in-home tutors or account for transportation to and from tutoring sessions easily. For those who cannot accommodate this, tutoring services can further exacerbate the gap between students of means and students in need. A clear demonstration of this is the direct correlation of family income with student test scores on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT.

The Pundits platform was created by Kiwi Education founder John Feng to address the underlying gaps that exist between disparate socio-economic groups and leverage mobile technology solutions to broaden demographics who have access to educational support services. Technology and the underlying innovation and collaboration begot with such partnerships as with Colab LA, which is a lead developer on the Pundits project, are essential in leveling the educational landscape.

Kids who are at an extreme disadvantage early in life need access to a variety of resources to overcome these disadvantages; technological partnerships in the education and child welfare sectors provide the opportunity to create these resources in a customized, yet scalable way. For example, the Pundits platform has potential to reach entire classrooms of students at once with a single tutoring session. Any student can request a tutor’s help with that evening’s homework assignment and get one-on-one help live. Each of these live sessions is recorded and made available to all other students in the same school and course category. This creates equal access and augments tutoring from an exclusive, premium service to a support service available to all students who choose to use it.

Pundits is honored to be a part of the White House Foster Care & Technology Hackathon and pledges to continue innovating toward improvement and impact, for those who are most in need. There is no single or simple solution, but we hope that the future of the Pundits platform will also represent a brighter future for foster care youth and others in need.