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Connecting new parents and their children to community resources while providing education on early childhood development in an engaging way

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Name or Organization

Stephen Holtz


Richmond, Virginia

What is your stage of development?

  • New Innovator, with less than one year of experience in ECD


  • University

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

KidConnect aims to educate new parents on the importance of early childhood development while providing examples of activities and established programs on how to aid development during early childhood.

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

While various local resources exist for new parents to spur the development of their small children, finding these resources can be a challenge without knowing exactly where to look. Many local resources have a great environment to nurture early childhood development (ECD), but education for new parents is often limited. Without knowledge on how to reinforce this development at home, the opportunity to further nurture ECD is lost. Local resources are also known to charge entrance fees, which can prevent families from socioeconomic classes from having this opportunity to further ECD.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources.

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

I am aiming to solve several problems. Firstly, this platform attempts to connect new parents with events and activities to resources that already exist in the community, like children's programs and museums. Secondly, this program will inform new parents on the importance of ECD and how to reinforce the development they gain from the various exhibits and activities they take part in. By showing parents the importance of activities that positively impact ECD, young children will benefit greatly.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

There are multiple layer to this idea. In summary, I am proposing a nonprofit program that organizes free events at local institutions to engage young children in activities that promote ECD while educating their parents on the importance on ECD and how to promote it at home. There are several components to this idea, which are laid out below: 1. Volunteers or staff members reach out to community institutions that would make for an interesting meeting session. These places, like a Botanical Garden, Children's Museum, or public library (among others), would agree to host a session on a certain time and date. Employees or volunteers would help give information and talk about their institution during the session as well. 2. Once the session is confirmed, the event section on our website will show the session's date, time, and location. Once a limit on the amount of people is set, registration will begin for the event up until the session is full. Parents are limited to one session every month, to ensure everyone has an opportunity to attend. 3. The session involves two components - an educational informational session for parents and a ECD session for the children. Using the Children's Museum as an example, parents would quickly sit through a short course (~15-20 minutes) and given materials on the importance of ECD with their children. After the course concludes, parents and their children are given time to roam around, where parents can see examples of activities that add to ECD. Staff members will roam around as well to answer any questions, helping parents understand what they can do at home to continue nurturing ECD. Added things to keep in mind: 1. The website would also contain different resources and different local events for children, making it inclusive and usable for a variety of parenting needs. 2. All sessions would be coordinated to be free, preventing money from standing in the way of parents learning the importance of ECD. 3. Institutions featured will be able to show off what services and products they offer to help further ECD, giving them incentive to host and participate in the sessions.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

1. There are three beneficiaries of this idea. The first group of beneficiaries is the children exposed, as the ECD will progress quickly and a passion for learning can be created. The second group of beneficiaries are the parents, as the educational sections of the program will teach them the importance of ECD and how to encourage this development at home. The third group of beneficiaries will be the institutions that host these events, as they are able to show off what they have to offer to the parents, which will help them bring in more customers. 2. I have had experiences working with children and their parents in an environment that promoted ECD, the Children's Museum of Richmond. I know the impact this program can have on parents and their children, and I know employees at the museum always love more visitors!

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

The idea can lead to long-lasting outcomes, as relationships will continue to be built between parents, children, and these institutions in the community. By changing the way parents learn about the importance of ECD, positive change will come about. As the program expands to other areas, a large support system can be built between communities to inspire a generation. We aim to bring this program to several areas in the US by 2020 and hope to help 100,000 families in that time.

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

One of the issues of ECD resources in the community is that they often charge an entrance fee, which can be very limiting to families below the poverty line. Transportation to these areas are also difficult, especially since these resources are hard to find in impoverished areas. To combat this, the free info sessions we hold will allow these parents to get these needed ECD experiences for their child, helping make sure they do not miss out. Events will also be held in various spaces found in local communities, like public libraries. By hosting these events in different communities, it lessens the transportation issue. This helps ensure low-income children are not left out, and their parents can be just as informed when it comes to ECD.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)

This concept is innovative because nothing currently exists in this capacity. While there are other apps that track local events for children, our calendar would focus specifically on the events we are running for free (with the education sessions). It is also difficult to find information on ECD where examples can be demonstrated directly in front of you, so this platform would attempt to put an end to this difficulty. The various locations within different communities will also allow everyone to be included, regardless of income level, which is a problem that exists within this sphere today.

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

While this idea is just starting development, the online platform will be the key to reaching a significant number of end-users. While this will likely start out as just a website, exposure will be given through social media and local news stations and newspapers. As more people learn about the program, they will likely pass it on to other new parents they know in the area. Hopefully, very little will need to be spent on advertising, and a significant number of end-users could be gained organically.

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

Since this is technically a partnership between already established institutions in the community, there are location sites and events that could be easily planned. While staff members could be volunteers as the nonprofit gets off of the ground, staff would need to be added on as we grow. The idea is viable from a technical and operational perspective, as the physical resources are already established. The work that still needs to be done includes building an online platform to advertise this service, while also building connections with the ECD resources and planning the education sessions for parents. There are clear pathways to implementation, but financial support would be the most challenging part of the idea.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)

Unfortunately, I have struggled with thinking about how to monetize this platform. While ad revenue for the app and website will give the nonprofit a little bit on income, the rest of the operating income would need to be from donations or grant programs. Thankfully, the only real costs of the model would come with the staff and an office space, since other resources can be provided to parents at the participating locations.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)

The first step to thinking about this platform was to design around the needs I know currently exist in this space. With my experience at the Children's Museum, I knew new parents struggled to find resources to spur ECD and were unsure about how to support this growth at home. By hearing and designing this idea around their needs (by completing informal interviews), I have incorporated a human centered perspective into my design.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

1. My idea came from and was inspired by issues I heard about while involved with the Children's Museum of Richmond. I spent time listening to the needs and wants of new parents, and I was able to design a real solution to meet their problems. 2. It's true that children are the future, and in the age of screens I would love to encourage parents to get their children outside the house. By allowing all parents - regardless of income level - to give their children these experiences, it gives every child a great start in life. 3. When I was in high school, I was a part of an internship program with our local Children's Museum. In addition to volunteering more than 300 hours over the course of this year, I also received a little bit of education on ECD. I managed to talk with parents about the issues they struggled with as new parents, and these issues are what I took into account when dreaming up this idea.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

I have a team within my university program to back me up, and I have personal connections to education students here at VCU. I also have personal connections to individuals who have worked and still work in various roles relating to early childhood development, including the Children's Museum of Richmond.

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)

While I do have a few connections to help me get a non-profit platform up off of the ground, I would love a little more help from individuals with experiences of launching a platform like this. I likely will add other needs as development continues.

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

  • No, please do not share my contact information


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