In 2011, computer engineer Anupama Vaid took a sabbatical to care for her young school-age children. She quickly realized the stark difference in her engagement with their school life compared to her time as a working mom. This insight led to the creation of ParentSquare, a unified K12 communication platform designed to bridge the gap between families and schools. It ensures that all parents, especially working ones, can stay connected and involved in their child’s education.

ParentSquare integrates various communication tools emphasizing two-way communication and accessibility. The platform’s adaptability, particularly during the pandemic, highlighted its importance and significantly expanded its user base.

Reaching 20 million students nationwide, ParentSquare empowers families to be active partners in their child’s education. It recently acquired Remind, a widely used platform reaching over 80% of public schools and 60% of teachers in the U.S. and landing on the Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies.

From Working Mom to EdTech Leader: Anu Vaid Launches ParentSquare

Vaid believes parental involvement in a child’s education is critical, so she developed a platform designed to foster connectedness between families and schools for everyone—working families, non-English-speaking families, and families with children in different schools.

The growing use of social media, mobile internet, and online productivity tools, such as bill-paying, increased digital engagement. It also signaled readiness for more integrated and comprehensive tools for schools, teachers, and parents to communicate with each other. To understand and respond to their needs, Vaid spoke with all the stakeholders.

ParentSquare has evolved into a unified, comprehensive communications platform that seamlessly integrates email, texting, app notifications, calendars, RSVPs, volunteer sign-ups, forms, permission slips, and voice messages. This ensures that parents receive information through their preferred method and its robust functionality enhances engagement.

Unlike many tools that primarily disseminate information from schools to parents, the platform emphasizes two-way communication. It allows parents to respond to messages, participate in group discussions, and directly contact teachers and administrators.

“With the three kids in three different schools, ParentSquare helps me stay informed with everything going on without overloading my inbox. I love that I can just go to the app to review school emails. It makes me feel on top of things, and what parent doesn’t like that feeling?” – Brenda Norris, parent user, Bainbridge Island, WA.

The platform provides built-in language translation for over 100 languages, making it accessible to non-English speaking parents. Privacy and security are a priority. It seamlessly integrates with School Information Systems and data-driven analytics, making ParentSquare a versatile and effective tool for engagement in education possible for these parents.

“ParentSquare has significantly enhanced both our contactability rates and engagement with the families we serve,” said Anthony D. Johnson, Ed.S., Chief Communications Officer of the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. “Response rates for our Parent Guardian Survey have nearly doubled, and our Impact Aid Survey response increased by almost 50%. These improvements have also led to an increase in federal funding of approximately $2-2.5 million.”

This focus on unification stemmed from a pre-pandemic observation. The proliferation of individual teacher-chosen apps created a confusing experience for parents with multiple children. ParentSquare addressed this by offering a comprehensive suite of tools—from school websites to teacher-parent communication—all under one secure umbrella. This not only streamlined communication for parents but also provided schools with a vetted and secure platform.

ParentSquare serves 20 million students across 50 states. Last November, it acquired Remind, a communication tool widely used by American homeschoolers. Remind reaches over 80% of public institutions and 60% of all teachers.

Helping Working Families To Get Involved In Their Children’s Education

The first challenge Vaid set out to solve was helping schools involve parents, especially working parents. Her experience as a working mom compared to a stay-at-home mom shaped her approach to building the platform. It was a problem well suited to an engineer. She and her husband, Sohit Wadhwa, built the first platform.

The result was a unified platform that streamlined the sending of announcements, updates, and permission slips. This was especially beneficial for working parents, who could easily respond to messages and ask questions within the app at their convenience.

ParentSquare empowered teachers to effectively connect with families outside of traditional school hours by providing mobile access for parents, ultimately fostering a more engaged school community.

Vaid recognized the need for educational tools to continuously adapt and offer engaging experiences through various digital channels. This caters to the evolving demands of parents and students, especially tech-savvy millennials who prefer such interactive learning environments.

Vaid attributes ParentSquare’s success to its ability to meet schools’ digital communication needs. This was especially highlighted during the pandemic when the demand for such platforms surged, significantly expanding its user base. This adaptability and responsiveness to user needs have been key to ParentSquare’s growth and effectiveness in fostering better school-parent communication.

ParentSquare’s Growth Trajectory and Pandemic Pivot

However, the sudden shift to remote learning during COVID-19 presented a unique challenge. While school usage of the platform skyrocketed, the fixed-pricing model meant ParentSquare faced increased costs for its infrastructure that weren’t covered. Despite this initial financial strain, the pandemic ultimately proved beneficial. The company rose to the occasion, rapidly developing features like health screening forms and video conferencing support. This adaptability helped onboard even more schools seeking a unified communication platform.

The focus on a unified experience has become a virtuous cycle. Schools attract families with appealing websites, retain them through seamless communication on ParentSquare, and ultimately benefit from parent advocacy fueled by Remind, another acquisition that strengthens the teacher-parent connection. This flywheel effect positions ParentSquare as a leader in simplifying and strengthening the school-family connection.

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