OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Welcome to kidappolis, Where Children and Caregivers Learn Together

The kidappolis app platform creates interactive learning opportunities between children and their families...anytime, anywhere.

Photo of Hee Won
1 0

Written by

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

The idea for kidappolis was borne from our experience as direct service providers working towards our target mission to prepare preschool-aged children for kindergarten and beyond by focusing on supporting parents and caregivers to build awareness, invest in together time, and change their daily actions and interactions to promote early learning with their child. Because kidappolis is focused on promotion of using mobile devices, and the concerns that parents have and available research indicates regarding the need to limit screen time for under two year olds, we were pretty locked into a solution that was appropriate for children 2+ years old children and their parents/caregivers. Our application for the Prize, however, caused us to generate a different set of user stories and a problem statement that focused on parents and caregivers of children from birth to two years old. We considered this: How might we develop a scaleable mobile tech solution for highly tech-active parents and caregivers who are often isolated from formal support providers but who want agency as they facilitate their 0-2 year old child's developmental and early learning growth? Our process for addressing this new problem included the following: 1. We got mentored. Meeting with our Prize Mentor to get feedback on our current solution and application. We were able to get a great deal of feedback on thinking about market reach, the customer add value of providing a solution that addressed parents and caregivers along a continuum beginning at birth and extending to eight years old, and we explored some of the ways to mitigate some barriers to scale and mitigation (e.g. privacy, COPPA and FERPA compliance etc.) 2. We iterated. We went through a problem definition, solution brainstorming, requirements building, and prototyping cycles around building out a module targeting parents/caregivers birth to two years old. 3. We listened. We conducted 10-20 user interviews and focus groups to help build out our user stories, which impacted our product design, and has pretty dramatically changed our MVP plans. 4. We tested. We started some early prototyping. We were able to leverage the relationship and prior work of our team, with a set of family support providers in Denver, and now have a table set, with amazing mothers and fathers, primarily low-income, largely dual-language, with children birth to two years old, who are committed to help us figure out how to make kidappolis reach into their current reality, to provide a product and supports that would add value to their current experience as parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers. This is a very grassroots-driven project, and we are very much hoping to be able to formally launch development work with this group in the Denver community. The impact of iterating in this way, has enabled us to push past a previous non-starter---we couldn't have babies and toddlers on devices, so we couldn't impact babies and toddlers. With the reframing work we completed as part of this application process, we have been able to refine our product roadmap and can now build in features that are intended exclusively for the end-user parent, rather than the parent and child dyad. Our hypothesis is that we will able to get parents hooked into the experience of using kidappolis for their own learning journey, providing supports, celebrations, and personalized information for them, as the primary beneficiary. Then, as their digital native children grow and start reaching for those devices, parents can update their kidappolis accounts to release features and digital content that enables them to feel like they are able to safely integrate technology into their early learners' lives while still supporting their early language and literacy learning and meeting other developmental milestones. We can also enhance the experience of a personalized feedback system for these caregivers that keeps them engaged and in the driver's seat of their child's learning.

Name or Organization



We were founded in the Bay Area, California, with plans to expand to other regions in 2018.

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?

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

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

Navigating parenting in the 21st Century is a challenge for any parent. Most of us know that we should supporting our early learners, but information is inaccessible, particularly for low-income parents. We also know that 1/3 of our early learners do not show up ready for success in Kindergarten, however children as early as two years old are spending 2-4 hours a day on screens. Parents often do not know how to convert screen time into a family engagement and skill-building activities to support learning, growth, and school readiness. kidappolis changes that experience for kids & caregivers.

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)

Kids don't come with how-to manuals, especially around how to support your child's learning and school readiness. Today's early learners are spending 2-4 hours a day on screens and with over 45,000 educational apps in the Google Play store alone, caregivers often feel additional stress about how to manage and navigate this new terrain for their children, who swiftly become digital natives. kidappolis is an early learning solution for parents that utilizes mobile technology to provide curated high quality educational content and apps, allows parents to set learning goals, gathers usage data, and provides guided feedback based on a child's and parent's engagement with the content, making learning opportunities forth both, available anytime anywhere. The kidappolis platform creates a safe space for every parent to learn, and to guide their child's learning, regardless of whether they currently have access to quality early learning center-based or classroom-based learning opportunities for their children. The app platform is particularly focused on being accessible to caregivers with limited English proficiency and who may experience the particular isolation that tends to come with poverty and is intended to build up parent knowledge, feelings of support and connectedness through digital media, and activates a caregiver's sense of confidence as their child's first teacher.

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

Approximately 4 million children will enter kindergarten in the US next year, and only 60% will be ready to succeed. The proliferation of devices and apps, even among our earliest learners and across the socioeconomic landscape should an opportunity to support development through empowering caregivers to become their child’s first teacher. We seek to leverage technology and the proliferation of devices to our advantage, supporting and guiding caregivers to become their child's first teacher.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

LitLab has been supporting low-income families in Northern California since 2014 by creating interactive learning opportunities between children and their families anytime, anywhere -- all to support school-readiness. We want kids to enter school ready and stay ready. After experiencing success with our one-to-one tablet program we realized that we needed to expand the impact we were seeing in our families into more communities. While not all families have tablets, over 85% of low-income families do have smartphones. We took what we learned from our tablet program and, with some additional user research and testing, created kidappolis - a mobile app that houses the highest quality educational content for a child and makes it available on a mobile device where parents get to set learning goals and track progress of their unique learner. What’s great about kidappolis - and separates us from other educational apps - is that we take the data from the child’s engagement and share it back with the caregiver in their home language: Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, etc. That information is coupled with personalized tips, videos, and activities they can do offline all to support learning, growth and fun. Our goal is to reach as many families as we can, particularly in those communities where we see the highest number of students unprepared for success in kindergarten. We currently contract with urban school districts, health care agencies, and local municipalities to offer kidappolis to families at no cost to the end users. We measure our success through app analytics (number of downloads, usage metrics/app, number of eBooks read, etc). Our team of educators, product managers and engineers have created internal dashboards to monitor depth of use as well as scale and user retention. Gathering user feedback to enhance and refine our product vision and roadmap is critical to us, so we regularly gather feedback and observe our end users, engage users through incentivized online surveys (sent by text message) and one-on-one user interviews. While our mission is to target under-resourced end users, we realize that kidappolis has value for caregivers across all socioeconomic backgrounds. To support sustainability we developed an earned income strategy that is focused on subscription-based sales of kidappolis to all end users. We will utilize other educational affiliates, social service agencies, government entities, and trusted distribution channels to offer kidappolis to a broad-based market.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

Caregivers with early learner children, particularly those whose primary language is not English, benefit from kidappolis by having a tool at their fingertips to drive developmental growth, school readiness, and ongoing success that is delivered in their home language. Center-based child care providers, school systems, and other community agencies looking for solutions to facilitate authenticate family engagement around early learning will also benefit by making available a low-cost and scalable solution to their constituents and clients. Finally, children as early as 18 months, largely due to the incredible proliferation of mobile technology, are using devices and stand to benefit with experiences that are safe, curated for quality, and enable parents and caregivers to drive and manage the use of digital resources.

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

kidappolis is a fully scalable solution. Our dream is that every child in the U.S will become a user, so that they can enter school ready, making them four times less likely to drop out of high school. Research indicates that when a child is prepared with quality early learning opportunities they are more likely to hit critical third grade learning benchmarks, which leads to greater likelihood of graduating from high school, earning $2,000 more in a monthly paycheck, and greater likelihood to have a stable housing status. So the impact of early interventions like kidappolis stretches far beyond a single family or school system, with positive impacts to entire communities and future generations. At the individual user level, kidappolis is intended to build awareness and confidence for parents and caregivers, through promotion of a greater level of interaction around learning with their child. Evaluation of our beta trials (LitLab's 1-to-1 tablet distribution program with a user-facing platform) is that providing a guided experience around use of quality digital content results in greater vocabulary gains, increased phonemic awareness, and growth in numeracy and math skills, as compared to a control group. So, we know that this model works, and believe that modification of the kidappolis design, to focus even more on the parent experience for earlier aged (0-2 year old children) will have similar or greater developmental and learning outcomes.

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

LitLab was established as a nonprofit organization in 2014 to support under-resourced and English Language Learner families. We currently partner with local school districts that serve 70-90% low-income populations and work with district partners to identify specific schools and communities to work with to ensure we target the greatest areas of need and resources. kidappolis was designed with these families in mind. We utilize feedback from our current families, engage them in content development, and have them participate in user testing to refine our product design and development. We have built our product to specifically address issues of access (lack of home wifi, limited data plans, etc.) and language barriers (translated text and messaging services, bilingual app content, audio books for low-literacy users, etc.). Through continued partnerships with health agencies, urban preschool centers, and school systems, our goal is to get kidappolis into the hands of the families that represent the 1.8 million kindergarten students who show up to school not ready for success in school.

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

What if we couldn't access quality child care and preschool? How could we still ensure that families feel confident in their child's learning. The reality is that, nationally the US is challenged to ensure that every child has access to a physical space that offers quality. While policymakers and educational systems continue to figure this out, we offer kidappolis as a point of disruption. With kidappolis, every parent and caregiver is activated to be a child's first teacher, and quality content becomes ubiquitous, existing beyond the classroom walls. kidappolis is an original concept because it addresses multiple problems in one product. LitLab used the learning and feedback from four years of program delivery to create a single point solution to address multiple pain points for families: -Difficulty navigating through thousands of learning apps without a clear understanding of what's educational/age-appropriate; -Cargivers' need to track and understand what their child is learning/engaging with; -Access to usage data that helps set and drive learning goals; -Provision of quick and easy texts that to help a busy parent with ideas, activities, and data all to support their child's learning and growth. -Personalized feedback that is user friendly and creates a connected learning experience between parent and child; and -Ability for parents to control and manage device usage. While there are many educational apps and content providers in the marketplace, kidappolis uniquely offers a multi-point solution that is particularly intended for children and families most in need.

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

In the next calendar year we hope to expand our user-base to reach 11,000 end users in 2018 and up to 250,000 by the end of 2019. Our current roadmap also aspires to develop mechanisms for deeper personalization at scale by expanding our content to serve caregivers with children under 2 years old (parent apps, not baby apps) and up to the third grade reading milestone. We are currently building out our technology and product development team within LitLab and look forward to expanding our internal team as we increase adoption and impact into new territories. With successful sales and fundraising we hope to more firmly establish technical, marketing, and additional partnership expertise in 2018 to support our growth trajectory.

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

Educators and parents alike find value in kidappolis, that’s why even with a beta version of our product, we’ve had traction to date. Since our launch, we have had nearly 5,000 users across 125 classrooms in our home base of the San Francisco Bay Area and are piloting our first partnership with a community health organization in Spring 2018. We have contracts with 6 school districts and Charter Management Organizations and generated substantial revenue in our first sales cycle, using a beta version of kidappolis. Please find a full answer to this question in an e-mail submitted to

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

No one else is doing what we're doing so we're navigating brand new territory. Municipalities and school systems have a long sales cycle and our thought is that individual subscription sales will help drive funding for our work supporting under-resourced families. One barrier is targeting a specific audience for our product: school districts or individual subscriptions. Our current plan is to target both, using specific strategies to reach each customer. As we develop the product, we are also embarking on a consumer education strategy that outlines the problem statements as well as position kidappolis as a multi-pronged, holistic offering in a sea of single-point solutions that only solve a narrow set of problems or concerns of our target users.

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

The idea came from our own children and the thousands of children we’ve worked with in the early learning space. We will continue to emphasize human-centered design in the development and evaluation of kidappolis through surveys, user interviews, and other research throughout the implementation of the pilot as well as product launch. We know how challenging a job it is for parents to raise kids in the current environment. We take some of the stress off parents’ shoulders and created a product that serves as a “one stop” platform to house early learning apps, gather data, and support parents’ work to guide their child’s growth and development. LitLab was founded with a directive to implement human-centered design in the development of all of our products and services. We employe design thinking into this new module of our product, which more directly meets the needs of parents of children aged 0-2. We started with a new problem definition, conducted interviews and focus groups, as well as surveys to gain more insights into our target end-suer. We then went on to develop end-user profiles and user stories, then went through several rounds of ideation to build out potential solutions and/or feature sets. From there, we generated a set of low-fidelity wireframes as well as did some user message testing, to see what resonated for our parents and caregivers. We also prototyped during this stage differentiated levels of personalization through a basic text messaging platform, to better understand what prompted the greatest response and committed action from parents and caregivers in our test group. After doing some additional review, we now have a set of high-fidelity wireframes to support product development, which we can now build into our product roadmap. With limited resources, we are at the point of making some decisions about which features to include in the MVP of the product as we continue to raise capital so that we can adequately resource our product build-out.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

The idea originated from personal experience. Iliana, the second child of LitLab’s Founder and CEO, was a struggling reader as a four year old, and used a tablet to gain confidence and practice in her reading ability. She read books on apps and recorded herself reading aloud to these books to master reading, increase her vocabulary, and build a foundation to become the avid reader she is today. Laura Reed, Co-founder and Managing Director recounts how “At 2-years-old, my daughter Chloe saw a framed photo and swiped it with her finger. She assumed the screen was digital. Today at age five, Chloe is always asking for my phone and likes watching videos on YouTube Kids and plays games she has downloaded herself. I have no idea what she is watching, I assume the content is OK. Our 21st century children are learning through screens and interacting with digital content daily -- and as their caregivers, we all want to ensure that we are preparing them to be successful. This is why we created kidappolis, so every parent can feel confident as their child’s first teacher.” We are excited to continue work in the early childhood space because we believe firmly in the research that shows the brain and childhood development potential in the early years. We also see the early childhood space, although gaining traction in recent years, as still undeveloped in terms of the amount of need. We see the value in synthesizing and curating what’s available so parents can make well-informed, high quality learning choices for their kids in an easily accessible way. We also designed kidappolis with the extreme end user (those with limited language, education, and other resources) in mind and hope to increase access for the most hard-to-reach families. We are also developing a product that a family could potentially use for 7 years for one child and more for siblings. We are excited to gain traction and be poised to serve all families so that all 4 million children entering kindergarten are ready to succeed in school. Formally, we are a team with complimentary experience and expertise in child development, evaluation, preschool teaching and learning, bilingual education, and family engagement and organized. We have over a dozen years collectively working with school systems to integrate new products and services. Additionally, our leadership team has personal experience with the incredible power educational interventions can have on changing the trajectory of a life. We are excited to be a part of this converging moment, where so much attention nationally and in California is being placed on the importance of early learning.

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

While our ambitions are large, our team is still small. We need to be highly strategic with who and where we focus our sales and marketing energy. We are currently focused on working with local or state-wide entities (government and private) that can help us effectively distribute kidappolis to as many users as possible. This currently includes a state department of education, healthcare networks, national non-profit organizations, and some of our corporate partners. We hope to reach 11,000 new users in 2018 and another 250,000 by the end of 2019.

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)

1. Help us stretch our content to serve caregivers who have children 0-2 years. 2. Help us establish distribution partnerships with large-scale user pipelines. 3. Help us continue our user research and user centered design at scale by working with families in other geographic areas or with different demographic backgrounds so that we can build user profiles and user stories to support product development. 4. Expand out content to reach, particularly for parents of 0-1 year olds, since we started our prototyping more heavily with children ages 2 and older. 5. Expand our roadmap to support more parent community building through the app.

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

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

LitLab seeks mentoring support in refining our product development model, identifying distribution channels to support scale, and engaging with investors and funders to ensure that we have the development runway required to bring our product to market.

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).

Mialisa Bonta, Founder & CEO. Mialisa Bonta is Founder and CEO of LitLab. She brings with her over 20 years of education and youth development experience in the non-profit sector. LinkedIn profile: Laura Reed, Managing Director LinkedIn profile: Ed Gutman, kidappolis Product Manager LinkedIn: LitLab Website:

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

Video has also been submitted under separate email.

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

Our conversation with our mentor was incredibly helpful. Our mentor had some related experience in bringing edtech products to market and is currently active in support of several startups. We were able to run through our "pitch deck" with our mentor end were put on the hotspot a bit as we explored some of the issues related to whether we were building a defensible product, how we would conducted our market research, and our plans for sales and marketing. We are very thankful for the time provided and it proved very helpful in completing our application.

Name or Organization



We were founded in the Bay Area, California, with plans to expand to other regions in 2018.

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?

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Hee Won

We would love to hear your thoughts! Post your comments and questions about kidappolis!