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Urban League of Essex County Empowerment Box

Our children are our greatest resource. A themed subscription service that will contain resources for parents engagement with their kids.

Photo of Sebrania
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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)

Not changed. Just at the initial phase.

Name or Organization

Urban League Essex County


We serve the residents of Essex County which is located in the heart of Newark New Jersey

What is your stage of development?

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


  • 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 your submission in one clear sentence

Our aim is to continue to create pathways to economic self-sufficiency and community redevelopment for our residents.

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

Right now many of our parents lack the financial resources and must make hard choices about purchasing basic needs that many of us take for granted. We are hopeful that this subscription service will supplement and enhance their knowledge about affordable solutions that are available to them.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Product: A new or enhanced physical product that creates value for end beneficiaries.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

In brainstorming an idea for submission, we determined that despite the impetus being our early learners, our goal would be to strengthen the family. Our innovative way to achieve this goal would be through a subscription box that we would affectionately call our "Empowerment Box". Empowerment boxes would be theme driven, literacy focused, and shipped monthly; themes would be reflective of Urban League service areas. For example, our "Housing" box would have age appropriate children's books that parents could read to our early learners about different types of homes, and homes in their community; arts and craft activities related to homes would also be included. For parents, literature about home buying processes and credit repair could be included. A food and nutrition empowerment box would have books, games, and materials for children that are focused on healthy meals and nutrition; menu cards and meal ideas could be included for parents and an opportunity to use our kitchen facilities as a “test kitchen” or demo center with presentations by trained nutritionist and chefs. A financial literacy empowerment box would include children's books about money and saving, a piggy bank, using a ATM or voucher to open a children’s saving accounts/ bank account. We would also have a box that focuses on women’s health and wellness to support the busy mom and to make sure that they learn to take care of themselves both physically and mentally-the opportunities are endless!!

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

Provide our parents with child friendly resources to foster deeper family bonding and at the same time learning new ideas or skills that will lead to self-efficacy. Many of our parents many are receiving supplemental benefits and those that are working do not have the discretionary funds to provide extracurricular activities. The box will provide tools and lessons plus fun activities at their fingertips that can be enjoyed at any time and done together as a family.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

Once per month a new empowerment kit will arrive to each household . Its contents will be themed based upon the resources provided by the Urban League. For example, one month would focus on nutrition and healthy eating. That month, the box would be filled with menu cards and kid friendly cooking books that both parents and child could prepare meals together. We have a kitchen on our premises and we could hold a "test" kitchen demonstration for the families headed by nutritionist and chefs. Another month we could have a box focused on personal health and hygiene that would cater to both parents and the child alike. The possibilities are endless....

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

The beneficiaries of our idea are the parents that use our educational services and the community at large. We run a day care and early child hood center. We meet and interact with parents daily. Our programs are focused on fostering financial,educational,workforce development and civic engagement that leads to economic sustainability.

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

We would conduct an initial survey of our parents to determine what they need, we would also conduct a deep dive discussion with our teachers and case management team who can identify community need based on actual experience. Each subscription box would also contain a "feedback" checklist of each themed box to determine their satisfaction and comments to make sure we are on target . Perhaps over time , with the right technical support, we could create an "app" that enable our community members to make comments- just a phone click away...

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

Most of the families served here at our headquarters & Education Centers are 200% below the poverty level. The lessons learned will promote ongoing community engagement with League who stands at the ready as co authors to their success. Helping to educate our children goes beyond the walls of the classroom,we know knowledge is power. Our intention to provide life skills, the tools and a new vision about their ability to be successful as they grow and navigate into adulthood. It is with the understanding, knowledge of opportunities and how things work will go a long way to better prepare them for a more robust and empowered future.

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

Following behind the retail food industry, and other retailers who now have incorporated delivery by subscription service to their clients -what better way to have an ongoing engagement with our parents, While we will continue to cherish and conduct our 1:1 customer relationship with our parents- a empowerment subscription box will support parents who may have to discuss important topic in a child friendly way, money strapped parents will appreciate free activities to do with their kids and most of all its fun- who doesn't' like a good surprise each month!!

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

We do not foresee many barriers to scaling but we will have to make sure that we are consistent and keep our ideas fresh. There will have to have ongoing discussions/donations and buy-in with corporations that would provide in-kind support as well. We currently are serving 48 children in our Educational programs we would start with their parents.

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

The staff here are very excited about the idea and all systems are go on the planning front. We will have to do a bit of fundraising to keep the program viable. . We are recruiting for a Chief Development Officer who could assist in garnering both dollars and in kind donations. Marketing the program would also have to be done to reach those not in our immediate catchment area.

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

Our market is made up of individuals who live in our community, we work with hundreds of residents each year. Because we have a daycare and early childhood center as part of our program model we have connections and relationships with a vast amount of families in our community . Our other services include, financial opportunity center, workforce development services, home ownership, a thrift store and community development we touch our residents at various levels.

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

As I mentioned above, we would create a survey of need, hold focus groups and encourage feedback from our constituents

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

The idea came from our day to day collaborations with our community. We pride ourselves in taking a holistic approach to meeting our students needs and that of their care takers. Using our 100 year legacy in the community and our plethora of services that promote social and economic justice- this idea grew out of meeting our constituents where they ARE, not always expecting them to come to us.

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

We are looking for partners that could provide donations both financial investments as well as books, products, educational toys and other material that could be enclosed in our " boxes".

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)

In- kind help with securing promotional materials. Creating a communications,marketing and digital plan. Securing multi- year, non restrictive financial support would be ideal. speaking with firms who are expert in logistics to support getting these packages completed and mailed out.

Would you like mentoring support? [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

  • No

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

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).


Join the conversation:

Photo of Iliriana Kacaniku

Hey Sebrania 

Welcome to the Early Childhood Innovation Prize. We're thrilled to host your idea, which I enjoyed reading and became curious to learn more. It would be great if you can share with us your insights on how many children 0-3 and their parents you would like to reach out through your scaled program, as this is the age group that the Prize seeks to support solutions for?

Best regards,

Photo of Sebrania

We are please to hear back from you, we are looking at a scale of 500-700 parents and children.

Photo of Iliriana Kacaniku

That's a very valuable information Sebrania . Feel free to include it in the update part of your idea.

Wish you all the best,