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If Not You, Who? (INYW?)-Inspiring employers to equip their employees with ECD teaching skills...Engaging the workplace to empower parents.

With INYW? as a resource, employers can efficiently and effectively engage their employees in parental ECD touching families and business.

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Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

If Not You, Who? is evolving and expanding in scope as others give thoughts and ideas. While there are many pieces to the puzzle of nurturing and educating children, parents are the biggest piece. We reviewed our survey prototypes given to parents at early literacy fairs and updated that feedback to develop an idea on how to bring INYW? into the workplace. While discussing the workplace as an avenue to educating parents, the question arose about the unemployed. How can we reach those parents about the importance of ECD and inform them of available resources? One concept is that the parents participating with INYW? at work, will also begin initiatives to support and share INYW? with homeless and community centers. My mentor gave some wonderful feedback. One suggestion was to address why an employer would want to be would ECD learning help a company? While appealing to the business community to help with ECD, we have learned how employers are offering value-added benefits such as yoga or cooking classes, acupuncture, free Kindles etc. The February 2018 issue of Fortune magazine looks at the challenge of how employers encourage their top talent to stay. Employers are looking for ideas that offer creative benefits to employees. INYW? is a creative benefit. The Fortune articles list fortitude, adaptability and creative problem solving as needed traits for business success. A global head of recruiting states "we want information (on employees) about creativity, willingness to work hard, and love of learning" all traits that parents can build in a young child if they know how. A veteran recruiter writes that the one character trait that top level employees need is curiosity - one of the traits already supported with INYW? activities. WOW - we felt like Fortune was reading our curriculum. As INYW? suggests ways to develop these skills in our youngest children, we know that when a teacher, in this case a parent, teaches a lesson it reinforces that skill within themselves. So the business community benefits immediately as parents model these skills and in the future as our age 3 and under learners acquire these skills. INYW? at work can help train/coach/mentor parents to achieve those qualities. Our curriculum for the workplace is evolving. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that 66% of current employed millennials expect to leave their current company. 83% of employers stated they want to retain employees and 77% want to increase employee satisfaction. INYW? can help increase employee satisfaction for young workers which can increase employees retention rates. Also, in looking at research and data regarding ECD from many organizations, we discovered that this information needs to be implemented within a community. For example, at Shift Research Lab, their Early Care & Education Map can be viewed for areas to target for business involvement with ECD. INYW? is excited to meld research with new methods of attaining success. Using the toolkits and resources such as Dan and Chip Heath's book "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" inspired refining our approach so our idea would survive and thrive...If Not You, Who? In updating and reviewing statistics such as six out of ten children are not ready for kindergarten, INYW? looked at additional facts and causes that affect ECD. Research screams that parental involvement in ECD is the one positive constant. Parents, regardless of economic and educational level, remain the most important influence on a child's life and their attitude toward a child's curiosity, interest, and feelings can shape who he is for the remainder of his life. As the number one resource for ECD, parents need to be embraced with coaching, training and mentoring. Currently, parent's pathways for support are inconsistent - especially for low-income. So looking at new ways to reach all young families became more vigorous while refining this submission. The use of media to get the message out that parents are the BEST answer to educating children is now a key component. Companies can spearhead a ECD media campaign within their own organization or involve the community. During our early literacy fairs we discovered that most parents don't realize their critical role of teaching begins at birth. This message needs to be delivered by many sources, not just the educational community, to effectively engage all parents. INYW? learned that our business community is comprised of young parents stressed with work and family demands. Providing parents with creative solutions to help teach their kids is missing and can help.

Name or Organization

Little Bits of Learning, Inc. (LBL) began in the 1990's as televised Public Service Announcements (PSA) in Wisconsin. The purpose of the PSA's was to encourage fun learning activities between parents and children. The subsequent If Not You, Who? website (INYW?) under the LBL umbrella, targets the most active learning stages of young children.


Denver, Colorado. The website is available worldwide, using Google Translate in over 40 languages.

What is your stage of development?

  • Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD


  • For-profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

One of the top ten innovative ideas from researchers, educators, scientists, and advocates is to “Stop expecting parents to engage without showing them how.” INYW? is the how! Our solution can be a dramatic game changer because it goes directly at ECD goals and businesses are not being engaged to participate. By providing opportunities for parents to introduce life skills needed in business such as teamwork, effective communication, character development, and even learning to show up on time changes the game.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Channel: A new way to deliver existing products or services to customers or end users.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

“The first 2000 days of life is when brain development is most substantial.” National Academy of Sciences Regardless of parents' educational level, income, location, or race, they are best suited to help a child learn. Inspiring employers to equip employees with children ages 3 and under with ECD teaching skills is a different way to reach parents. INYW? will introduce the business community to our free website and other resources to train/coach/mentor targeted employees. All companies can offer this value-added benefit to their employees. The INYW? website was created to fill a void of getting research-based, fun, and age appropriate learning ideas to parents. Fun and challenging for the child - simple, quick and affordable for adults. Many businesses generously provide college scholarships yet few dollars are targeted towards those crucial first 2000 days of a child's life. Our innovation is about "when brain development is most substantial." The business benefits of getting behind the INYW? solution are subtle and significant. This is a unique approach to ECD and companies currently have little if any presence. It's also a bold initiative for businesses to undertake and do something important and lasting. Businesses benefit by uniting employees behind a meaningful purpose. Developing a complementary ECD media blitz integrating parents, families, employers, schools, and more becomes a unifying force in educating young children.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

1. We aim to make parents aware that they are their child's first and best teacher. 2. While parents have this critical role in educating their young children, they want to be shown how to teach their kids, and the business community is an untapped resource for showing them how to go about it. 3. We plan to inspire businesses to go further and connect their employees as volunteers in low-income communities with ECD events such as early literacy fairs.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

Current research shows what helps teachers be successful in the classroom can also help parents. "Training, coupled with coaching and mentoring opportunities, is most effective for teaching and learning." We need to show parents ideas about how they can be successful. A perfect place to reach parents is at their place of work because they consistently show up. If Not You, Who? will be a powerful part of a parent's work environment when they see their company caring about families and their children's learning. Businesses joining forces with INYW? may choose from an array of offerings helping to train, coach and mentor employees. Examples of these could include: •one time introduction lesson about free website •workshops sharing ECD activities and skill development ideas •brief web (Zoom) sessions as requested by employees •family play events (game nights, picnics, etc.) •handouts of ways for parents to interact, talk, or play •develop a lending library of age appropriate toys •booklets of finger plays and poems •playlists of songs that uniquely engage children •arrange a library of recommended adult/kids books •promoting a learning activity in work newsletter Other avenues for encouraging business participation might include: •a media campaign for parental involvement in the work place or community •developing initiatives between employees and daycare or work sponsored childcare centers •supporting low-income young families with INYW? resources such as books, CD's, or materials for activities •offering employee raffles of container filled with early literacy books, toys, and games; etc. A main reason people work is to provide for their family, yet most of the time away from family is because of work. By having defining moments with INYW? that rise above the routine of a normal work week, employees can become more engaged and motivated at work and home. A workplace that values helping employees make the work/family bond tighter can contribute to well balanced and fulfilled workers. Employees are informed at work of the INYW? website that is accessible at home to build ECD literacy. The site can be shared with their family’s child care provider (daycare, grandparent, babysitter, etc.) to use while parents are working. The website shares activities via one minute informational videos and simple instructions to develop five basic skills - language, math/science, motor, problem solving and social. Skills are presented in a wide variety of activities and topics. Parents gain confidence in becoming an effective teacher while watching the videos/instructions and discover many methods of introducing new skills. We have tested and selected our baby/toddler activities at Early Literacy Fairs in Colorado and are ready to add these activities to the website. This will double our offering of 325 activities to more than 600 activities. Currently, only 40% of children nationwide entering kindergarten are prepared to learn. By sharing and collaborating INYW? resources with the business community and a continual If Not You, Who? media presence, we intend to achieve in our targeted geographical area over the next 5 years an 80% rate of children entering kindergarten being ready to learn. Companies can be targeted in areas with poverty or low educational levels and also large corporations with diverse employee base. Linking business involvement, INYW? and other successful ECD resources strengthens the goal of expanding ECD while spotlighting parental involvements impact on children for life. We understand the benefits of collaborating. Currently, we teamed with Word Warrior in using their animal information for alphabet letters on What fun to introduce a Yokohama Chicken for the letter Y. Check out the last bullet point - View a chicken with long feathers here By teaming up with other groups, we can promote ECD and make it a priority. For example, when Northeast Colorado Child Care Resource and Referral has their Child Care Provider Summer Training Day, the INYW? website can be introduced to these providers who in turn can share with their parents.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

Ultimately everyone benefits, but immediately children age 3 and under and their parents. Some of the benefits for young children include: how to be curious, learning determination, having empathy and integrity, making good decisions, asking important questions, being positive, being responsible, effective listening and communicating, and being self-confident while respecting others. Specific INYW? activities teach these skills. Employers will sustainably have a better educated workforce as we coach parents how to role model and teach these skills. site and our follow up workplace ideas share how to make these attitudes part of parents' interactions with children and present in our communities. Teacher and students often don't realize the impact of what has been learned until years later. My educational newspaper columns, PSA's, and TV morning segments on learning, showed the learning benefits to be unique to each individual. Each person's take away is a function of their individual needs. Having six grandchildren ages 6 and under, ignites my passion for their futures. Part of our INYW? current approach is hosting early literacy events at schools and libraries. Events have over 40 hands-on activities from which to choose and more than 400 people attending. While watching families interact, we observe different learning types and personalities. And, we get immediate, positive feedback seeing families happily and successfully completing our activities.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

The awareness If Not You, Who? wants to drill into parents is ... "If you as a parent don't educate your child, who do you think will do it for you?" Too often parents look to daycare, nannies, babysitters, and even other parents to teach their children intellectually and socially. Parents should be aware of the skills needed to nurture successful children in school and life. By making If Not You, Who? a familiar voice for our businesses and communities along with being a reliable resource is impactful. Establishing a learning mentality through support from businesses is a positive change for all working families. A five year focus on parents being aggressively involved can lead to change when their children enter formal school. Our current environment of bullies, judgmental attitudes, succeed or fail can be transformed into future classrooms of children who are kind, accepting, and working with each other in learning to the best of their abilities. By extending ways to help parents become great teachers, we all benefit. Life long learning is the goal for all families. Businesses need to know they are an integral part of the solution for a better educated work force. That begins by acknowledging parents are a child's first and best teacher. Employers should actively support parents in that role. Informed parents can lead to better learning environments in the home. When family lives go smoothly, workers can focus their time at work, on work.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

Our pilot project using the website was a low-income area of Muncie, Indiana. We learned so much. INYW? then carefully adjusted the website to fit needs of special groups-rural, military, non-English users, low-income, and single parent by our choice of activities and materials. For example, an activity using a can of yellow tennis balls was adapted. Our Muncie contact relayed the lack of tennis balls and low adult reading levels. Material lists changed and videos added. Teaching in a low income school taught that poor didn't equate with uneducated. Often these parents care the most about educating their children. Low-income families often share responsibilities with extended family members and following the website's curriculum enables a unified approach. Access to the site is easy from a mobile phone (lower income families often have) and variations in materials are given. For example, paper for a project can be cut up paper bags, index cards, backs of envelopes, etc. The free website impacts parents wherever they are. In Muncie, a donation of the suggested books to read was made so all parents in the program could access. We would ask libraries and schools in the area to have available the listed books. Businesses working with INYW? will reach a broad base of working parents. Sharing the plight of low-income children with these parents encourages new solutions.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)

Asking employers to become an active part of the solution for ECD and giving them the tools to make it successful with the website and resources is original. Usual routes to ECD are the educational community via federal, state, or non-profit initiatives. They focus on daycare center location and quality, involvement of health care via pediatricians, in home visit programs, increasing the educational requirements for early childhood workers, giving out free books, etc. INYW? is a new vision that guides parents in ECD where they spend the most time - at work. Parents can be overwhelmed with daily responsibilities, work, limited funds, or lack transportation to use many current ECD resources. Seeking knowledge of best ways to interact and educate their babies and toddlers takes time and some competence. Our early literacy events at libraries and schools provided a pilot for workplace ideas. Observing how to present information in different formats were explored. We consistently hear from parents at events - "Oh, I can do that...just never thought of that" and they can if they are trained, coached, and mentored. By having their workplace become a ECD resource, parents are taught from the get go that they are their child’s best and first teacher. Employers and INYW? can develop a unique role in creating a supportive environment for families. Questions like, "Where do parents find information on checking their child's development?" INYW? can share a free app that allows parents to track development. "Do parents know the importance of repetition in teaching children?" We do and will share why and how. Each business is distinctive with a different employee base; technology focused, restaurants, sports teams, financial, healthcare, ... but most have employees with young children. The best marketing program is "word of mouth" and pleased parents when learning ECD at work will share with other employees. Innovation, yes, as the office grapevine spreads the ECD affect quickly. INYW? provides a niche in the workplace while meeting a need in our communities. The focus of INYW? is playing while learning. We interact with parents by playing in our workshops and on website videos and parents learn to do the same at home. A poster at work with the words to a finger play and photograph of employee and child interacting is not the norm. But what a wonderful subtle way to create an educational moment for all employees. Engage the workplace to empower parents can be done in so many creative ways. Most of our activities are aligned with Colorado Public Libraries focus of Play, Read, Sing, Write and Talk. thus already sharing a connection in our community. A business and community media strategy that highlights employers helping parents teaching their babies and toddlers can alter the focus of learning immediately. Suddenly ECD becomes personal and has solutions for parents. INYW? collaborates, not duplicates, as our singular goal is educating parents to be their child’s best teacher from birth. Our organization is small and strategic with our three staff members having four children ages 6 to 1. We are young parents. Understanding what young parents are thinking and dealing with on a daily basis is very real. Making it to school events, workshops, library story times, etc. doesn’t always happen. Often getting to the grocery store doesn't happen. However, being encouraged with creative resources in a work environment, where an employee is already present, is an easy commitment and can inspire families to become involved in learning. An employer can offer INYW? as a value-added benefit that can attract and engage employees and benefit a whole community. Once a comraderie for educating children develops in the workplace, businesses can expand their role if desired. Employees could spearhead book drives, donations of art supplies, and perhaps help fund workshops for homeless centers which gives everyone at their place of work, not just the young families, a new focus. As INYW? coaches parents on teaching character traits like caring and responsibility new attitudes toward their own workplace develop. GCI mission statement is aligned with our focus. The Early Childhood Innovation Prize is the first time we have applied for any funding. We felt that first we needed to spend time and effort convincing possible funders on the benefit of ECD. GCI gets that and feedback from our Baby/Toddler focus at Early Literacy Fairs confirmed a Prize submission had to be made. Methods to develop a targeted business and community outreach for ECD needs to happen and GCI perceives that by originating this challenge.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

Technically, there are no limitations to this being a global solution. It is absolutely a potential solution for all of the United States. So, our significant number of end-users is over 20 million children (five years and under) just in the USA, Initially, a geographical area can be targeted for businesses empowering parents. Using the media and developing a 5 year plan within this area (business, neighborhood, city, county, state) allows the model to grow as results are compiled. In 5 years children entering kindergarten on grade level and ready to learn is the ultimate goal. Business support in reaching parents will determine our financial sustainability. Sponsors for the media outreach need to be obtained. How to cost effectively reach parents with media awareness still needs to be answered. The business community that complains that our workforce is ill-prepared, needs to understand they are part of the answer. Hosting and supporting INYW? partnerships would be funded by the business. Using employees within each business to participate as mentors extends the reach. Our biggest barrier is funding and manpower. Our passion for educating the young is currently self-funded by our family. Sometimes we amaze ourselves with what we have accomplished with one part-time employee, one part-time volunteer and myself as co-creator. INYW? fully embraces for ECD to happen, "it takes a village..." Our role is to help mobilize the village and show it what to do.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

Prior to 2014, the three founders lived in different states. Now we all live in Denver, Colorado and can more effectively collaborate to advance our goals. Our first significant investment was creating a unique and free website of ECD information and activities to become a trusted resource for parents. Adding 300 more activities to the website is our next step and funding is needed to ramp it up. Getting businesses on board is next in communicating that parents are responsible for educating our next generation. Our primary methods of reaching parents via schools and non-profits has not moved the needle in seven years - 60% of our children are not ready to begin kindergarten. ECD is stuck in a place we don’t want to be. INYW? wants to develop a relationship with each business partner so there is positive change. Just as parents need to take ownership of their child's education, businesses can take ownership of encouraging employees with babies and toddlers to make early learning a priority. The plan has to be feasible because the need is huge. The dilemma is real and has been a problem for years. Not being feasible isn't a choice. INYW? is a feasible vehicle because there is a website and technology in place to support millions of users. And we know it is feasible because of the continual response we get from Colorado Library literacy fairs. Hundred of parents and their kids show up for these events and the feedback we receive is consistently exuberant from library staff and parents. INYW? touches the participants with ways to engage ECD ideas they can do at home. Less feasible for now is adequate staffing and the financial support needed to grow the idea. As businesses come on board, revenue will sustain INYW? Initial funding for creating our business teaching model curriculum, costs of instructing additional staff to work with companies, and purchasing of initial presentation materials is needed. We anticipate support for media involvement coming from any organization or foundation that values our idea of actively involving parents. INYW? would approach our local colleges and high schools to help create a campaign or "trade" advertising help for INYW? sessions at a company. Our three person company, has been able to achieve much through creativity and appeals. While businesses have been asked to be involved in education, our idea of employers being active partners and resources in the solution of ECD is new. Once this program is up and running, we can ignite a whole community. We see this happening in Denver, Colorado!

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)

We absolutely believe our business model and likelihood of success are viable. The biggest barrier is businesses not seeing the ECD connection in the workplace. Developing a particularly remarkable marketing plan that entices companies to be a part of this special opportunity is needed. Education Week, a national newspaper on education, in their recent edition of Quality Counts, gives their annual state-by-state assessment of public education. The national score is a C (74.5) and the state of Colorado received a C (73.9). Three categories were scored in 2016 and results for Colorado were - Chance for Success (82.8 - B); School Finance (67 - D+); and K-12 Achievement (71.8 - C-). Clearly, with all the new initiatives and funding, the end results are still only average...who wants to be average? Focusing on ECD is not only viable but important. Children are most sensitive to both positive and negative influences between birth and age 3 according to Nobel Prize winner James Heckman. The Heckman Equation shares that comprehensive, high quality early childhood education yields a 13% annual return of investment. The Center for American Progress corroborated in 2017 the Heckman study by reporting the USA would see a net benefit of $83.3 BILLION for every year of high quality preschool. Early life experiences have long-term impact on a child’s emotional state, ability to socialize, and capacity to learn. All employers and employees when they realize this amazing window and the life-long effect, should willingly make efforts to educate parents. Many parents did not have positive school experiences and do not embrace this environment. Reaching these parents via a different route in the workplace when their children are young can be transforming to our communities. Most parents want to do what is best for their child, but often do not know what that means. Our fairs and events at libraries and schools validate that statement. Parents are taking notes and photos of activities so they can share at home. The timing of our events run from morning to early evening with each organization trying to find the perfect time for busy parents to attend. But we still find parents who leave early, come late, or not at all due to work commitments. Bringing the fun and creativity of learning to the workplace needs to be explored. Our idea allows an employer to reach employees quickly and can be touted in their new hire package. As some firms compete for employees this is a different and enticing benefit until it becomes commonplace for all companies.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)

“I am constantly looking for activities and games to do with my daughter while we are at home, but sometimes I don't know where to find them." Maria, mother of one-year-old Yatzil, living in Denver, Colorado The plea from this mom is exactly why we created Human centered perspectives have always been at the forefront of INYW? initiatives. My TV segments sharing how parents can have fun learning with their children aired for 12 years. Viewer feedback was continually positive and that's why we aired for so long. The segments ended only because I moved from Wisconsin. Currently the early literacy fairs that are presented at schools and libraries in Colorado allows us to test different concepts. Our areas of Read, Talk, Write, Play, and Sing for ages 6 and under, always have baby friendly activities. We continually try different ideas and learning approaches and have follow up written surveys for parents and volunteers on site. We mingle at events and ask for feedback. These events allow parents to freely move to different activities and we observe how each activity is used and the amount of time spent at the different stations. The librarians and teachers at the hosted sites are candid with their feedback, both positive and negative. We submit to those in charge suggested activities for the early literacy events months before hand. After discussions and input, the sponsoring organization and INYW? are all on board with the activities and materials that will be shared with the parents the day of the event. INYW? envisions the same type of dialogue with employers. Our goal is to empower employee parents through pleased employers. This aggressive and new approach to ECD will only happen with a human centered design. Bringing INYW? into the workplace can be a benefit for both employers and employees. Just as we make our early literacy events special for parents at schools and libraries, the workplace will have the same support from INYW? As we continually reinforce, parents need to be coached, mentored, trained and shown how to make their homes the best learning environment for their children. Our proposed employer/employee concept with INYW? will provide parents with a much needed helping hand.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

When I taught nursery school in the 1970's, parents would leave the classroom always asking for more ideas on what to do at home to better help their children learn. For starters, I compiled mimeograph sheets of ideas to show them what they could do. Fast forward to the years around 2006 and both of my daughters were teaching at the Bing Nursery School, Stanford University. We chatted about the school, curriculum, the marvelous facility and that so many parents always wanted to know what they could do at home to help their child learn. The same question asked of me over 40 years ago in Gary, Indiana was still being asked in Palo Alto, CA - different economic cities with an identical need. That was our inspiration. According to a variety of educational reports, there is no one trusted resource for parents looking for information on children under the age of 6. Little Bits of Learning wanted to be that resource and If Not You, Who? became the vehicle with a website and early literacy events. While I was always attracted to teaching young children as an elementary school teacher, when my own children were getting married and talking about having kids of their own, I immersed myself in ECD. I learned that "studies on brain development indicate that optimal learning (for children under 6) happens in a stimulating and enriched environment with warm and nurturing adults to guide the child." Helping parents create a "stimulating and enriching environment" was the impetus to My background consists of teaching Pre-K to fourth grade in four states. I also have written a local newspaper column "Special Moments" for parents sharing activities to enhance educational play. In Wisconsin, I approached our local CBS station regarding educational PSA. These won a Parent's Choice Award for local television. The station then asked me to share weekly learning segments, "A Little Bit of Learning", on CBS's Morning News in Wisconsin. These continued for 12 years until I moved. Being blessed with 6 grandchildren, ages 6 and under, has renewed my involvement in ECD. My twin grandsons, who turned one in December, live in Alaska. The website is already used by their parents to help in their learning. A site that is available 24/7, free, and encourages ways to optimize their learning environment - just what grandma wanted. Yes, anyone who uses will consistently learn how to create a "stimulating and enriching environment" that is needed for optimum learning. 54% of America's children (mostly those living in poverty) do not attend preschool. Reaching these children's parents via their workplace can make a dramatic difference. Non-skilled workers can benefit from a company using If Not You, Who? and that excites me.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)

We need partners. To expand the reach of the website, we continually seek child-care centers, pre-K schools, parents and now businesses to use our site and share their feedback. To bring INYW? to the business community, we can use support targeting the businesses most likely to participate and be leaders in this solution. For making If Not You, Who? a recognized community resource, marketing expertise helping to design and implement a plan reaching all early childhood parents (low-income parents, military families, white collar professional workers, Latino families...) is important.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

The area in which we need the most help is connecting with the Denver business community. Any support or mentoring from city government and business groups to help create awareness of our plan would be significant. Formatting a 5 year goal for the media plan expanding If Not You, Who? throughout the business community needs additional creative minds. Sharing via photos, video, and words the impact of parents teaching their children necessary life skills is critical for employers to support.

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters)

While I am confident in our knowledge of ECD, our efforts with business community contacts, appropriate Denver city officials, marketing, advertising, obtaining funding, and technology would benefit from mentoring support. We are happy with the current website, yet there is still much we would like to add to make it more user friendly. (technology help) There are many great tag lines regarding early childhood - Ready to Learn, Putting Children First, Touching Lives Forever, etc. So how do we make If Not You, Who? stand out? (marketing help) As a self-funded company, we need direction in gaining long term funding. (funding help) As a relative newcomer to the Denver area, we need help in forming relationships with businesses who align with the goals of If Not You, Who? (supportive resources)

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Attachments: Please upload relevant attachments or graphics or show us how you prototyped.

[Optional] Video: You are invited to submit a 30-60 second video that introduces you and/or your team and your idea.

Mentorship: How was your idea supported? (5000 characters)

My mentor was able to use her own work experiences to guide me in how a business would look at my idea. INYW? is targeting parents and my millennial mentor, while not a parent, sees how what I am proposing can be a strong value-added benefit for an employer. During our incredibly helpful mentor discussion, the INYW? vision for what we are trying to accomplish became clearer. However, the INYW? vision is bigger that I am conveying in this submission. Candidly, I am concerned that the total scope of what I envision might not be coming across. There is a two step approach to what we're trying to implement: 1) Denver can become a national platform city of engaging businesses and their parent employees to actively educate their children age 3 and under 2) And then, (Step 2) businesses can get get behind their employees' volunteering and mentoring efforts at literacy fairs targeted for low-income families. This step also includes the businesses contributing media PSA's about parents educating their children, and identifying critical learning stages; providing books and other resources for parents to take home from literacy fairs; all kinds of ways for businesses to influence their company's neighborhoods and communities with the ECD message. As we discussed these concepts, my mentor urged me to get more personal in my proposal's message and to relate stories that have happened along the way. Here's an example of how INYW? reached a low income community ... We connected with the staff of Ball State University at a National Early Childhood convention, and ended up offering INYW? ideas and resources for use in the Muncie, Indiana community. Muncie (much like Gary, Indiana - one place where I taught) is a low income community. One of our learning activities involved using tennis balls in teaching eye-hand coordination, motor skills, color, and more. Immediate feedback from the parents on this activity was that they don't have tennis balls, can't afford tennis balls and don't know where to get free tennis balls! Point taken ... so, we changed the activity list and adapted to a low income situation. The lesson was still delivered, and we shifted our thinking in publishing teaching activities to be relevant for all economic groups. By offering me a mentor, Ideo understands the role and virtue of mentorship in creating this submission. As we watch the Olympics, we see that athletes rely on great coaches to reach their goals. Our parents of young children need coaching, mentoring, and training to teach learning and life skills. INYW? wants to provide mentoring through businesses. With my mentor, we discovered that often the best employee benefits, are policies and programs that foster harmony between the demands of work and personal life.

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information
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Attachments (3)

This shows a 2 year old doing a variation on Month 1 Activity 21. It is a physical activity working on finger dexterity, a pre-writing skill, and target words children should know in kindergarten - empty, full, in and out. There is also skill development in counting aloud and use of the color word yellow. A great video illustration that there is no right or wrong way to do an activity but that learning occurs by trying new experiences.


A printer friendly page from showing an activity for parent to share with child. Here we are using easily accessible items like shoes to practice patterning skills. A parent can leave this page for a caregiver to share with child while they are working.

INYW? Fun with Parents In The Workplace ECD.pdf

Ideas for employee gatherings for ECD. 30 minutes to 1 hour can be scheduled before or after work, or during lunch hour by the employer. These sessions are to motivate, train, and mentor parents with children ages 3 and under. Parents are a child's best and first teacher and they need support to empower them in this role.


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