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The OneSky Center

The OneSky Center will lead social innovation in early childhood care and education for vulnerable children in the developing world.

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Written by

Name or Organization

OneSky for all children

Geography

OneSky is registered as a global NGO in the US, China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.

What is your stage of development?

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

Type

  • Non-profit

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

Asia bears an overwhelming weight of the world’s most vulnerable children. Our goal is to become the leading training organization for early childhood care and development in limited resource settings in the developing world. Through the OneSky Center in Hong Kong, we will support NGOs, policy makers, and stakeholders by providing extensive training, mentoring, and access to our evidence-based curriculum to promulgate lessons back home in their communities and, together, change the prospects for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

Select an Innovation Target

  • System design: Solutions that target changing larger systems.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

We have come to understand that real and lasting change, the kind of change that can ensure positive social impact on this and future generations of children, is needed everywhere and can only come when society commits to reaching children and their communities as early as possible.

In our experience, an innovation is a novel path to finding a solution to a seemingly insoluble problem. We use funds to implement systemic change by developing early intervention models that didn’t exist before - transformative models that, over time, impact millions of children’s lives - and then work with governments and communities to take our models to scale.

Our innovative model in China, a place where the odds were immeasurably stacked against us, has now scaled to reach 29 out of 31 provinces and is China’s national standard of care of institutionalized children. Our programs supporting left-behind children in poor villages are beginning to scale across rural China. In Vietnam, we launched the first model of its kind to benefit neglected children of factory workers living in industrial zones. This provides a useful measure of our ability to create an innovative, central training hub in Hong Kong to train thousands more to impact millions more vulnerable children across the developing world.

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

Asia bears an overwhelming weight of the world's most vulnerable children. Through the OneSky Center, we aim to create a forward thinking, wide-scale practical application to address the gaps in early childhood care and education in this region. Our goal is to change the outlook for at risk children in the developing world by building adult capabilities in the communities that surround these children.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

The new OneSky Center will be a central demonstration laboratory for modeling and training of best practices in early childhood care and education, aiming to lead social innovation and lasting change for the most vulnerable children both locally and throughout the developing world.

The largest underserved populations in Hong Kong are ethnic minorities and new arrivals. The model we offer is inclusive, embraces diversity, and integrates services and training to prepare young children to thrive in a multicultural community, despite poverty or other life stressors. We aim to develop an innovative city model for these vulnerable children and their families.

The OneSky Center will provide an estimated 185-200 children ages 0-6 living in a designated low-income district in Hong Kong with programs based on the simple principle that children need consistent, nurturing care in order to thrive.

Programs are rooted in evidence-based methodology and include early learning, parent education, community engagement, and address current service gaps for childcare and early education in Hong Kong while also building a global community of skilled early education and care practitioners across Asia.

Because local need is so great, services for children from birth through three years will be the larger offering, serving approximately 115 children.

Through the OneSky Center, early childhood education and care professionals have access to emerging research findings and ongoing training to integrate best practices, as well as learn to work in a more coordinated way with professionals from other disciplines, including social services and healthcare.

OneSky Senior trainers will mentor and groom a local faculty of trainers recruited from child development professionals in Hong Kong. The Center will offer unique features to benefit local child-focused NGOs and service organizations. OneSky trainers will support untrained caregivers ranging from teenaged moms to grandparents, and train preschool teachers and social workers how to work with extremely vulnerable children.

With the creation of the OneSky Center, we are also planning to expand, package, translate and otherwise localize our already extensive library of training materials that will provide a system for disseminating training, over time, across Asia. The Center will become the home and distribution hub for materials to be delivered in print, online, and video.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

The beneficiaries of the OneSky Center include vulnerable children, ages 0-6, of ethnic minority, new arrival, and single parent households living in a designated poverty district in Hong Kong. Additional beneficiaries include vulnerable children in the developing world reached through training of trainers and sharing of best practices. These children will thrive in nurturing early learning environments and through building of adult capabilities in the communities that surround them.

OneSky has 20 years experience supporting vulnerable children in their early years in limited resource settings in Asia. We began our work piloting early learning programs inside government run orphanages in China at a time and in a place that was not always welcome to outside intervention.

We know how to bring together the adults, communities, and governments responsible for the welfare of vulnerable children and show them how to work together to change the prospects for their youngest citizens.

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

OneSky is not a charity in the traditional sense. Instead, we are agents for positive social change—social entrepreneurs—forging partnerships with governments and communities, helping them to change their own social systems to dramatically impact the lives of their own most vulnerable children. That is precisely the impact we seek through the creation of the OneSky Center in Hong Kong: lasting, systemic change throughout the region.

We are confident that the OneSky center will influence and replicate across communities and countries struggling to do what’s best for the children.

We want the developing world to see that if we shift a society’s resources toward that pool of lost children that it’s possible not only to transform millions of young lives, but to also transform the people around them, and ultimately, to create a healthier, safer, and more prosperous global community.

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

We are currently exploring opportunities to launch the OneSky Center in the Sham Shui Po district, an area comprised of a high percentage of low-income families and has an overall poverty rate of 19%, greater than Hong Kong’s national average. Sham Shui Po is also home to a large percentage of ethnic minority and immigrant families.

These families are more likely to have more than two children, experience language barriers, have a lack of a social support network, and struggle with childcare dilemmas as prohibitive costs often force one parent to stay home, contributing to the ongoing cycle of poverty in the household.

It is estimated that in Sham Shui Po there are over 13,000 children ages 0-6 - with over 8,000 of these children under the age of 3 - living in extreme poverty households. However, there are approximately 48 childcare centers available. Many poor immigrant families struggle with navigating the childcare arena and still cannot absorb the cost.

While final location is still in progress, the ultimate district location will have a high prevalence of low-income families to help address the regional challenges in childcare and early education in Hong Kong. Trainings for NGOs, stakeholders and practitioners in the field, are also centered on supporting children living in low resource settings.

This model can not only help level the playing field for our world’s most vulnerable children but can help lift families out of poverty too.

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

Though the OneSky Center will initially be dependent on philanthropy, we are already looking toward long-term sustainability. Current and proposed agreements with governments, in combination with the value of and demand for our unique universal training materials give every indication that our goal is attainable.

Our initial and immediate reach will be upwards of 200 children at risk, with the potential to reach the 13,000 children, ages 0-6, in the local district through stakeholder trainings and services for struggling parents.

However the ultimate goal is to seed the legacy of addressing the needs of hundreds of thousands of children in Hong Kong and China, and potentially millions across Asia and around the world.

Our capital Campaign for All Children, with the objective
to raise US $20 million over 5 years for the creation of a sustainable foundation for the OneSky Center, begins in late 2017 and will continue until we have reached our goal.

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

We have an established OneSky Center Steering Committee currently conducting a thorough needs assessment to determine service gaps and identify solutions to most greatly benefit communities in need. Key findings to date show that in Hong Kong, low income households with more children face the following issues when it comes to the needs of their 0-6 year old children:


• Shortage and affordability of child care services (especially for the 0-3 age group), particularly extended hours care including weekends and public holidays
• Increasing prevalence of children with special education needs (SEN) and lack of assessment, intervention and ongoing education placement resources available (exacerbated if the child is non- Chinese)

• Parents who are themselves struggling to develop capacity to parent (psychological problems, addictions, high levels of stress, lack of support for integration to HK, young mothers), further struggle with difficult parenting issues, often reverting to physical punishment for their children

• Shortage of residential and foster care emergency and longer term placements for children whose parents are themselves struggling to care for them and/ or are suffering from abuse, or are absent

• Education system pressure begins early, even before pre-school with resumes needed to apply. Parents need help to navigate this system, the difficulties that are exacerbated for non-Chinese speaking ethnic minorities.


We have identified a particular need among ethnic minority (EM) families. EM children still suffer systemic discrimination in the Hong Kong pre-school and primary school system. Teachers lack training on how to teach these non-Chinese speaking children. Further, teachers require training on diversity of special needs children and how to teach them in integrated classrooms. Integrated play and education needs to be incorporated throughout private sector and government service provision, starting from infant playgroups and child care and extend to extracurricular play rooms.

We are currently preparing a prospectus that will be used for our feasibility study and included in a detailed business plan. We have also procured a solid operational and development senior team based in Hong Kong, including a Chief Operating Officer, Director of Operations, and Director of Development. Local staff will be recruited, trained, and hired.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

OneSky (formerly Half the Sky Foundation) was created in 1998 in order to bring family-like nurturing care to the many thousands of abandoned children languishing inside China’s welfare institutions.

Today, in dozens of cities and towns across China, all that has changed. OneSky is a trusted government partner that has helped perhaps one of the world’s most challenging countries to re-imagine its entire child welfare system. Our accomplishments in China, where we are regularly assured that what we have done is “impossible”, provide a useful measure of our ability to perform on our promises in Hong Kong.

OneSky has learned not only how to transform the lives of vulnerable young children through a very simple approach, but also how to foster positive partnerships among disparate groups that do not always welcome outside intervention.
Perhaps most important: We understand how to take the miracle to scale. The new OneSky Center will give us the base from which to do just that...on a scale consistent with our dreams for the world’s children.


Registered as a global NGO in the US, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam, we bring 20 years of experience achieving sustainable impact by developing transformative early childhood education and care programs in resource limited settings and then help our partners build their own capacity.

OneSky has a strong leadership team with over 30 years experience in the field of non-profit organization management, fundraising, finance, early childhood care and education, program design, communications, marketing, and technology.

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

In addition to having a global staff adept at creating ECD centers and culturally appropriate curriculum and training methods, we have also hired COO who formerly served as Executive Director of the Child Development Center of Hong Kong and who will oversee the development and management of our center. In addition, we are in the process of hiring a project manager to work alongside our COO and our OneSky Center Steering Committee – which is made up of child welfare, NGO and business leaders from the HK community – to move the project through each stage of development.

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)

Our two greatest needs at the moment are funding and space! We have a strong programs team, experienced at setting a center like this up, ready to get to work. We also have a wonderful steering committee working on the business plan for the center ready to help us move through the government approval process in Hong Kong. What we need now is seed money and space (the two being connected, of course) to begin creating the physical center and hiring local staff to be trained as caregivers, teachers and managers at the center. We are looking for partners interested in investing in the potential of this model or in donating or providing low cost space for us to renovate. We are also interested in accessing pro-bono marketing advice around our capital campaign to raise funds for this project.

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

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

We are incredibly fortunate to have such an engaged steering committee of HK professionals helping us research the local market and create the business plan for our model. That said, we would never turn down the opportunity for additional expert feedback on our business plan and user experience design.

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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