Portfoliyo: Boosting Student Success Through Communication Between Teachers and Parents


Portfoliyo is part of the Twilio.org program, committed to supporting nonprofit and social good organizations using communications technologies. Learn more about how your nonprofit can utilize communications at Twilio.org.

Harsh Patel Portfolyio
Harsh Patel

Harsh Patel spent over two years at Teach for America with 5th and 8th graders, teaching math and science. When looking back on his experience, Harsh realized his biggest challenge during the school year wasn’t communicating with students — it was communicating with their parents. This realization led him to build Portfoliyo, an organized and easy-to-use tool focused on teacher-parent communications, powered by Twilio Messaging.

Harsh’s main issue in connecting with parents was finding the right avenue to communicate.

He tried email, but emails get lost and many families involved with Teach for America do not have regular access to Internet. Phone calls can turn into phone tag, or drag on to an unnecessary time-consuming conversation. But, a text message is fast, simple, and straight to the point.

SMS messages have an incredibly high open rate. Upwards of 90% of texts are opened within six hours of sending. Harsh knew he could send a specific question via text to a parent for a quick response and vice a versa. Messaging offered Harsh an easy avenue of two way communication.

Portfoliyo allows teachers to manage all contacts and text conversations within a simple web application.





Harsh used Portfoliyo not only to keep in touch with parents, but to keep students on top of their homework. Re-affirming a student’s nightly focus on homework, and asking for a student’s input on an upcoming parent-teacher meeting keep the student’s best interests at the top of mind.

The Portfoliyo team cites a 2012 Harvard Study that shows frequent parent-teacher communication results in 10% more classroom participation, 6% more homework completion and an overall 35% better classroom behavior.

From Zero to 50k Messages a Month

When Portfoliyo launched in the fall of 2012, they grew from nothing to sending 15,000 monthly messages in a matter of months. But when the summer arrived, Portfoliyo’s dropped to less than half their typical school-year traffic.

You might expect the traffic drop was just a product of the school year calendar cycle. But, the team was left doubting the product’s success, questioning if teachers found it useful and if Portfoliyo would rebound in the upcoming school year.

In August 2013, Portfoliyo’s usage suddenly jumped to over 50,000 messages a month. The team discovered that teachers who were too busy to share tips and tricks during the school year, spread the word about Portfoliyo during the summer. The news spread like wildfire throughout the summer, resulting in the massive traffic spike at the start of the school year.

Currently, Portfoliyo continues to grow upwards of 65,000 messages sent per month.

Portfoliyo is just one part of The K Network, a nonprofit organization that aims to help schools engage successfully with technology. The team is looking forward to growing the product and reach in helping improve parent-teacher communications, and improving students’ success.

Learn more about how your nonprofit can utilize communications at Twilio.org.

[Photo courtesy of BusinessWeek]