"Everything Kid-Related" App with a Website Embedded on a Map
It will enrich caregivers' and children's lives by helping them find and filter all kid-related activities, events & places on a map.
Name or Organization
What is your stage of development?
New Innovator, with less than one year of experience in ECD
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
This app with a a corresponding website will pool and embed all kid-related events, activities, places, classes, etc. in Bay Area on a map and sync with a calendar to provide caregivers and parents more access to free or low cost brain boosting opportunities for kids, while also promoting more inclusive communities.
Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)
What if we could get kids off screens, and instead engage them in free or low cost development and learning? What if we also could curb deepening socio-economic divisions, and promote more inclusive communities? What if we could help parents connect with each other and reduce isolation? This app aims to do just that by providing access to information on free or low cost places, events, and activities for kids on a map. This app may also generate a greater demand and eventually a greater supply of high quality experiential learning experiences for children.
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)
We have plenty of opportunities to engage in high quality kid-related activities and experiences, often free, and yet many parents and caregivers lack access to such valuable information. Libraries offer interesting free parent-kid workshops and events. Many museums are free or offer free days and fascinating exhibits. Parks have/add special features. Universities and colleges offer public demonstrations and lectures. Theaters and performers offer free public access events. Cities hold festivals and parades. Yet, most caregivers/parents equate quality child development opportunities with expensive preschools. Imagine being able to access information about such events and places just from google maps with complete user reviews, parking and other details. Imagine that it is synced with your calendar, and you can coordinate your plans with other friends.
The solution would do just that. Initially the data about these events, places and activities will be pooled by me and volunteers drawing from available sources, and embedded on a map. As the app and website gain more traction, users (parents/caregivers) will supply and correct all of this information, along with reviews, tips and details. They will be also able to pay for services using the app/website.
This app and website with most up to date information will be handy for caregivers by letting them find and filter out the activities and places most appropriate for the the child's age, mood, and developmental need
What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)
1. Access to quality and free/low cost child related activities/places is inequitable. It takes a significant effort and/or a membership in well informed/connected networks to find them from obscure websites.
2. Kids are increasingly drawn to screens while engaging in experiential learning leads to greater SEL and cognitive development.
3. “It takes a village to raise a child,” but communities and individuals are increasingly fragmented, physically isolated & stressed.
Explain your idea (5000 characters)
Why did I select this medium:
Early Learning Lab’s Research found that existing popular platforms are preferred over a separate channel, hub, or a website and they recommend building on the former with their supporting infrastructure/system. This app and website plans to build on Google's or other leading provider’s maps platform (TBD).
The emphasis will be on apps - because 69% of surveyed parents use mobile to access child related information.
Why this solution will be useful:
- Parents do not have much time and luxury to do advance planning. They need just in time information on what is happening because planning in advance is not easy with children.
-Free resources such as free museums, parks, and events will increase everyone’s, especially low income kids’, access to them and promote more inclusive communities.
-Parents do not just want information – we have abundant information but information is not knowledge. The same goes for kids. The famous proverb "Tell me and I will forget; show me and I will remember; involve me and I will understand" is now scientifically backed. Adults and kids alike learn best not from reading or listening, but from seeing and engaging in activities and experiences. Visits to parks, museums, performances, and hands on experiences such as parent-kid workshops all favor such learning - especially if both caregiver and child participate in such experiences.
Furthermore, we know that users are more influenced by peers than by experts. Hence, this primarily parent-supplied and reviewed database of activities, events and places will appeal to users.
Here is how the product can evolve from basic to intermediate to advanced:
Basic phase: only events and activities highlighted on the map upon the basic search; parents can add them to their Google calendars.
o Parents/caregivers are able to organize meetups and playdates using this platform and coordinate their calendars
o Parents/caregivers post reviews and suggestions for making the best of each event/activity/place; this info will be ranked and made accessible for the future users
o Suppliers will have access to what is in demand and create more and/or improve upon of those.
Advanced phase: This app will turn into a visual hub of all things kid related as more and more services will be accessible with payment processing capacity (e.g. speech therapists, toy makers, etc.)
I believe we have an enabling environment for making this idea work in a long run and contribute to wider systemic positive changes in society.
- The service industry is booming, including child related activities/experiences, and the demand for such services will further increase with AI taking over more routine jobs.
- This solution may trigger more demand for such services, which in turn may result in higher quality and quantity of supply of such services.
- The status quo is shifting. Currently conventional full day preschools have kids engage in superficial “canned” projects in short stretches of time. The rest feel excluded as caregivers believe quality learning experiences cost a lot of money. Research, however, suggests that extended play engaging with hands on tools and materials, without excessive interruptions and transitions, is best for skill building and learning. In the future there may be more demand for such extended classes.
- Parents are in search mode trying to carve their own parenting style and practices drawing from online sources and books. Parents have bias towards peer learning over learning from experts. The proposed solution meets these needs.
- Historically it “took a village to raise a child” and yet modern day lifestyle is characterized by isolation, increasingly fueled by IT. This product will use IT to get parents and their kids out to interact with others – especially with each other and with people in their neighborhoods, which may strengthen community ties.
Who benefits? (1500 characters)
1. Kids are naturally curious & want to learn new things, but often watch TV or follow tired parents/caregivers who would benefit from this app and find free or low cost events (festivals), places (parks, museums), and activities (free or low cost parent-kid workshops) to enrich their imagination. I was one of those poor kids and I succeeded because I was exposed to great places and ideas as a child.
2. Parents not well-integrated into a community – especially those who moved recently or those without close ties to the community like me – could use this app to find and attend events and use them as networking opportunities with like-minded people in the community. It is hard to connect even with neighbors. We connect better when we meet with others over shared values and interests such as specific events and activities we all enjoy.
3. Families with limited disposable income who cannot afford quality childcare/preschools could use this app to find enriching learning opportunities for kids for free or at low cost.
4. Communities like ours concerned with separation based on income may have inclusive events and places. Furthermore, when people relate to each other based on shared values such as kids’ development/education, they may reduce stereotyping and increase mutual respect.
5. Travelers with kids who wish to explore the new places with kids might benefit from this solution. We travel a lot and exploring another city with kids would be so much fun with it.
What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)
According to Census in Bay Area we have about half a million children under 5 years.
By 2023 I aim for this app to benefit at least 200,000 kids under age of five in Bay Area.
How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)
While this solution targets all children, its main beneficiaries will be low income children who tend to lack access to high quality childcare and education opportunities. It does not have to be this way - communities have plenty of free or low cost learning opportunities for kids, too many kids are deprived of such opportunities because caregivers do not have access to this information or lack time or tips to search for them. Meanwhile, free museum days and exhibits, free or low cost classes, festivals, public events, and other high quality learning opportunities remain the privilege of those who are already better off. Public goods are not really public as a result of such inequitable information access. This app aims to address this problem and promote more inclusive communities and richer learning opportunities for all kids especially those who are less privileged.
Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)
This solution utilizes a combination of technological and social innovations, and meets all the following criteria for successful social innovations I have developed through my research:
· It is more effective in addressing a given social problem compared to the status quo solutions
· Cheaper than the status quo solutions but outperforms it
· Builds on locally existing strengths, opportunities and synergies (which can help with sustainability and empower users) including the fact that it uses existing platforms (maps from Google or other providers) and user generated content
· Shares risks and responsibilities with stakeholders
· Meets ethical standards.
· Unique community needs and context are recognized and accounted for
· Builds new synergistic relationships between users and suppliers
· Empowers the users
· Build users’ capacity
· Contributes to social capital and trust
· Ideally targets disadvantaged and the larger the covered population the better.
Moreover, this solution builds on empirical evidence on nature of learning. We know that content/information is not knowledge. It is the experience engaging with the content that can lead to deeper learning/knowledge. This product provides greater access to existing experiential learning opportunities for kids by making information about them more accessible and easy to act on.
Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)
Once the app is built, and gains traction and publicity, it might be scaled throughout the US with much less effort.
Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)
Staff: I am part of a network of highly educated and experienced people from which I could pool a talent to form a team. Already several people have expressed interest.
Technical feasibility: I consulted a senior software engineer and manager at Google (who happens to be my husband) about technical feasibility. I he said it is doable and relatively easy from technical point on view, but collecting the data will be the main challenge.
Implementation: The most challenging aspect of this app and website will be less in building them, but in collecting the information about child related events, places, activities, etc in the area in order to embed this information in the map; and in constantly updating the information.
To overcome this challenge in early stages I plan to collect the information with help of volunteers and solicit cooperation from entities offering such services/experiences. I will also seek input from a 500-member Facebook group of Spooglers (Spouses of Googlers) where I am an active member, in collecting this kind of information.
When the app gains traction with caregivers and parents, I plan to crowdsource this information from users along with reviews and tips.
Financial: We have limited funds to supplement the idea at early stages; we will raise more funds as needed from investors in order to scale up until we are able to generate funds ourselves.
Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)
Profit model: Our ultimate aim is to create a self-sustaining and vibrant ecosystem after we establish the framework. We will rely on user-generated content while providing just and fair information for them without charging users. We will need just enough revenue to cover the costs once it is in motion, and with large enough user base we should be able to find revenue streams to cover costs. For example, we could rely on voluntary donations; profit from additional product/service reviews from users with links that could be monetized; retain small commissions from private suppliers of services.
There is a clear demand for this solution as evident in the following:
1. In the Facebook group of Spooglers (Spouses of Googlers) with more than 500 members one of the most frequently asked queries are about interesting events, places, activities, etc. happening in city/area X where users live or want to travel to with kids.
2. There is a similar but more basic and less scalable product already available - it is a blog called SV Toddler with 16,333 followers on Facebook. http://svtoddler.blogspot.com/p/outings-adventures.html. It provides this kind of information at limited scale, focusing on places without putting on the map mostly by personally visiting each of those places.
So the demand is there, and the solution will take many iterations to get it right.
HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)
For the last two years I have experimented with few ideas for early childhood development and arrived to the one I am proposing which is yet to be directly tested.
First I tried to address the problem of mothers who are isolated trying to care for kids by themselves, while also handling other household responsibilities, which left little time left for socializing and friends and stressful parenting. After talking to many parents, researching, and brainstorming with them I launched a baby-sitting group with 8 moms where we traded babysitting hours so we have more time for ourselves while kids learn to make friends with other kids. After few months it sizzled out. Lesson: for a group to function organically, it has to be built on shared interests and values. Ours was selected on mere convenience so it did not last.
My second idea was to launch an early childhood development resource hub where I could provide the research based findings in the form of easy to use and actionable visual practical guides. After talking to mothers and caregivers, I learned that they do not lack information, but for such information to be useful it has to be internalized and turned it into knowledge. This can happen in learning communities where they can discuss and trade experiences. Lesson: Information is not knowledge - you need learning communities to internalize it but cannot manufacture such communities.
This lesson led to my current idea to leverage existing avenues for learning.
Tell us more about you (3000 characters)
I want to share three episodes from my background explaining why I am so passionate about this idea.
I grew up in a remote village in Kyrgyzstan. Since I was very little my grandmother would take me to new places and exposed to new ways of thinking and seeing the world. I think this was a big part of why I was able to accomplish more than anyone thought was possible (and there is still a lot of room to grow). My wish now is to develop a solution that can also open up a more enriching and inspiring world for all kids, especially those with limited resources, by providing their caregivers an easy access to information about new places and worlds through museums, festivals, performances, classes, and places.
After moving to the US I've always had great friends , but I found myself isolated and disconnected after having kids six years ago. This solution directly reflects and responds to my own struggles with finding interesting places and events and connecting with people over shared interests and values. I now have a strong supportive network of people whom I met primarily via children’s events and activities.
In my current job as a professor I am primarily concerned with cultivating skills and knowledge my students need in the future. I am realizing that the most essential skills of 21st century – the “soft skills” – are best cultivated in early childhood, and I became even more convinced once I had kids . That is why I am moving away from higher education to promote early childhood development.
Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)
I am counting on a group of friends who expressed strong interest. These include but not limited to the following:
- My husband who is a top notch software engineer and I am counting on his technical expertise and success with few startups.
- Our extensive tech talent network in the Bay Area.
- A mothers' group who is willing and interested in supporting the idea.
- A host of friends, former & current students committed to early childhood development and want to be part of this idea.
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)
I could use a help from a mentor to help with social startup's business and financial aspects.
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).