What is Alongside?
Alongside is an app that provides social-emotional learning and self-help wellness tools, often administered through a school’s counseling team. The tools include modules such as journaling, activities to support improved wellness (such as breathing exercises), and an AI-powered chatbot that uses chats to go through basic exercises that promote resilience, positive social and emotional development, self-monitoring, or goal setting.
Who is Alongside for?
Alongside is built for adolescents, primarily middle and high school students.
How do students use Alongside?
Students use their school issued email address to access Alongside either as an app on iOS and Android devices or as a web app on any modern browser.
Does Alongside provide licensed medical care?
No. Alongside is not intended, and should never be used by students, as any form of medical, behavioral health, or clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. If any questions or concerns related to physical or behavioral health arise during the student’s use of Alongside ALWAYS seek the advice of a licensed health care provider or other qualified health care professional.
Will Alongside replace school counselors and other student support staff?
No. There will always be a need for school counselors and other student support staff, and there is no replacement for human connection. Alongside is an additional resource that is available in a very different way than more traditional methods of seeking help.
How is AI (artificial intelligence) used in Alongside?
The chatbot uses AI in very limited circumstances and only uses pre-programmed responses that have been vetted by a team of licensed mental health counselors and psychologists. The AI system is not a human nor is it monitored by a human. It cannot detect or offer advice on issues it does not recognize.
Can Alongside detect if a student is in crisis?
The AI-powered chatbot has been programmed to attempt to recognize if students are considering self-harm. If a crisis is detected, students are provided links to crisis assistance resources (e.g. the new 988 suicide and crisis lifeline) and a notification is sent to the school.
What student data is collected?
Personally Identifiable Information (”PII”) means any information that may be used to identify an individual. Alongside collects student PII when they create an account and when they submit information in the app. Alongside may collect birth date, school, gender, ethnicity, preferred language and personal interests. In addition, Alongside collects the following information that students provide: chat entries, journal entries, what crisis assistance phone numbers or resources they have selected, and what content exercises they have selected.
How is student data used?
Alongside only uses student data (”PII”) for the purpose of providing and improving its services, and sharing information with their school or their parents as detailed below.
Students can explicitly authorize Alongside to share data with their school or a parent or guardian. For example, Alongside allows students to request a meeting or share a chat activity with their school support team, typically a school counselor. Additionally, Alongside uses artificial intelligence to detect when a student may be in crisis, specifically with the potential to self-harm. In these circumstances, Alongside will send a notification and the text that caused the trigger to the student’s school. Alongside also complies with the Children Online Protection Privacy Act (”COPPA”) and the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (”FERPA”), which allows a student’s school or legal guardian to access their data and request its deletion. Please contact Alongside at firstname.lastname@example.org to review, update or delete information collected for a student.
Alongside may engage third-party services providers help provide the Alongside services. These third-party services providers have access to student PII only for the purpose of performing services on a students behalf and are contractually obligated not to disclose or use student PII for any other purpose. Alongside may also share de-identified information with third parties to conduct on-going quality improvement activities, or for research and analysis. De-identified data will have all direct and indirect personal identifiers removed. Lastly, Alongside does not allow advertising in it’s services, does not sell any student information, and does not track student to target ads on other websites.
Is student data secure and encrypted?
Yes. Student account information is password-protected for their privacy and security. Alongside also safeguards the security of information with physical, electronic, and managerial procedures, as well as using industry-standard SSL-encryption to enhance the security for data transmissions.