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Breaking Into a New Channel with Evidence-Based Text Messages for Parents

Leveraging insights from behavioral economics and widespread technology, we inform and empower even the hardest to reach parents.

Photo of Ben @ ParentPowered PBC
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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)

Throughout the submission process, we’ve gleaned extremely valuable insights and been incredibly inspired by the Prize's supporting toolkits and mentorship, as well as by fellow community members and innovators. Drawing on these sources of information and inspiration, we made several major refinements to our submission materials. For example, the Storytelling Toolkit helped us clarify the narrative of our proposal, and the Localization Toolkit crystallized our thinking around localizing our product (which is now a part of our premium services offering). While we already have a strong focus on user experience and rapid prototyping, the Prize's related Toolkits provided us with additional strategies and tactics to incorporate into our product development process and hackathons. Our mentor, Fred, provided us with very helpful feedback on our proposal; and, drawing on firsthand experiences, he also shared valuable insights on scaling interventions in healthcare. Based on his feedback and insights, we made several refinements to our submission materials (e.g., more clearly highlighting our evidence base, value proposition, scaling plan, business model, and expected impact). Fred also offered to connect us to additional mentors and potential implementation partners in healthcare, and we will certainly take him up on that offer. We may even collaborate together in the future. Finally, we have drawn tremendous inspiration by fellow community members and innovators with respect to potential future product extensions. For example, Iliriana had a great idea about a gamified version of Ready4K, which we have already put into our internal product "suggestion box," along with other ideas that we have gleaned by perusing the Prize's website and listening to other innovators. The Prize's supports have been exceptional. We have already benefited from them and will clearly continue to do so in the future.

Name or Organization

ParentPowered PBC


We are located in the Bay Area and serve over 100,000 parents in nearly 40 U.S. states.

What is your stage of development?

  • Early Stage Innovator, with at least one-year experience in ECD


  • For-profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

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

Ready4K leverages insights from behavioral economics and trends in consumer technology to meet parents where they are -- on their cell phone. Each week, parents receive fun facts and easy tips to support their children’s development by building on existing family routines, like bath time. In a series of Stanford RCTs, the Ready4K approach has been shown to improve parent involvement and increase child development by 2-3 months. By strategically partnering with institutions, we serve even the hardest to reach parents, with the potential to promote child development at unprecedented scale.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Channel: A new way to deliver existing products or services to customers or end users.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

We aim to break into the healthcare channel to rapidly scale Ready4K to support parents of birth-to-three-year-olds. Scaling Ready4K in birth to three has unrivaled potential for positive impact, as research clearly demonstrates that investing in the first three years of life is the best way to maximize individual and social outcomes. This is particularly true of parent support programs like ours, which are most beneficial when parent uncertainty is high, and during key transition periods, like pregnancy and child birth. The company’s success scaling Ready4K in early childhood education through its unique institutional partnerships model gives us a very high level of confidence in our ability to scale in healthcare. We work closely with institutions to identify universal communication channels to offer Ready4K to parents, and healthcare is replete with such moments (e.g., well-baby and well-child visits). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 9 well-child visits in the first 2 years alone, and in 2013, 91% of children under the age of 6 received at least one visit. We also have significant early momentum with respect to breaking in healthcare, including strong connections and burgeoning partnerships with institutions across the country (e.g., in Dallas, the Twin Cities, and Chattanooga). By rapidly scaling Ready4K in healthcare, we will support parents during a critical time period with an evidence-based intervention that’s easy to adopt and use.

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

All parents want their children to succeed, yet many lack access to the information and emotional support necessary to develop the knowledge and skills to positively engage with their children on a regular basis. These problems are especially acute in birth to three, when parenting uncertainty and the stress associated with a major life transition are at their peak. By leveraging insights from behavioral economics and text messaging technology, we can support even the hardest to reach parents.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

There are large systematic differences in the home learning environments of young children. From birth to two, economically disadvantaged children are less likely to be caressed, kissed, hugged, and read to than their wealthier counterparts (Bradley, Corwyn, McAdoo & García Coll, 2001). From age one to three, these children are exposed to one-sixtieth the amount of number talk (Levine, working paper forthcoming), and by the age of four, children from disadvantaged backgrounds hear 30 million fewer words overall (Hart & Risley, 1995). Such disparities have significant consequences for individuals and society as a whole, given strong links between children’s early experiences at home and their development of motor, social, emotional, literacy, and math skills (see, e.g., Anderson, 2006). While traditional approaches to supporting parents have clear strengths, they also have limitations. Parenting workshops place significant demands on parents’ time and effort, and often suffer from participation rates below 50% and dropout rates as high as 50% (Brotman et. al, 2011). Moreover, the small number of parents who do attend workshops receive a lot of information at once that is difficult to remember and put into practice. Pediatric clinic-based programs have some evidence of effectiveness but are in general low touch, and home visitation programs can cost upward of $10,000 per family per year (Aos, Lieb, Mayfield, Miller & Pennucci, 2004), and are thus difficult to scale. The end result is that not all parents have access to effective supports. ParentPowered solves this problem by creating simple tools for great parenting that complement existing approaches. By leveraging insights from behavioral economics and trends in consumer technology, the company’s first product, Ready4K, meets even the hardest to reach parents where they are -- on their cell phone. Through text messaging, Ready4K breaks down the complexity of engaged parenting into bite-sized pieces that are easy to achieve. Each week, parents receive three texts to help them build their children’s skills by maximizing existing family routines in fun and easy ways: FACT: Replying to your baby’s babbles is an early way to have conversations with them. It shows your little one that the sounds they make are important. TIP: When your baby sighs, coos, or babbles as they look at you, say: Yes, you’re looking at mommy/daddy. Mommy/daddy likes looking at you too! GROWTH: Keep having conversations with your baby! Try asking and answering for them. Do you need a diaper change? Yes you do. Baby needs a new diaper. The Ready4K approach has one of the strongest evidence bases in the field. In a randomized controlled trial in San Francisco conducted by the company’s founder and colleagues at Stanford University, the Ready4K approach was found to significantly improve parental involvement, driving two to three months of child literacy gains (York & Loeb, 2014). In a year-two follow-up study, the same group of researchers found that a personalized version of the program was even more effective, as children of parents in the personalized group were nearly 12 percent more likely to reach the district’s “Exceeds Expectations” benchmark (Doss, Fahle, Loeb & York, 2017). A third study of a literacy-math-sel whole child-focused program found wide-ranging positive effects on parent and child outcomes, with particularly pronounced effects for children below the median of the achievement distribution (York, Loeb & Doss, forthcoming). Given mounting evidence on the positive differential effects of supporting children in the first three years of life, there are strong reasons to believe that Ready4K will have an even greater impact on parents of birth-to-three-year-olds, especially since supports like Ready4K work best when parent uncertainty is at its peak (as is the case during the first three years of life). Since launching ParentPowered in 2016, we have rapidly scaled Ready4K and we're now texting over 100,000 families in nearly 40 U.S. states. Our success scaling Ready4K in early childhood education and strong initial momentum and connections in healthcare give us a very high level of confidence in our ability to scale the program in this new channel. We plan to leverage our unique institutional partnership model to penetrate the healthcare channel and rapidly scale our whole child Ready4K program in birth to three. As we scale, we will also expand our content library to prenatal, as well as rapidly refine our product offering to increase the effectiveness of the program (e.g., by creating a personalized version of the program or creating tools to stimulate parent social networks, which are unevenly distributed and hard to form). Scaling Ready4K in healthcare has the potential for improving long-term child outcomes in innovative ways at an unprecedented scale.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

Parents of birth-to-three-year-olds are the beneficiaries of Ready4K. These parents benefit by receiving helpful information and activity ideas for how to stimulate their children's development in fast, fun, and easy ways throughout the day by building on the things that they already do with their children. Receiving helpful information and activity ideas reduces parent stress associated with the uncertainty of parenting, while simultaneously building parents' knowledge of child development and engaged parenting skills. We have significant experience interacting with our beneficiaries. Through his foundational research, our founder, Dr. Ben York, has interacted with beneficiaries in numerous ways, from administering surveys, to engaging in telephone conversations, to conducing focus groups. In addition, the company regularly engages in a number of activities to gather information from beneficiaries, including academic research (we have 10+ studies on-going or planned), local evaluation (we encourage our implementation partners to gather feedback from parents), and internal efforts to gather insights from parents, such as a/b testing and in-text surveys. We're recently hired a head of product to broaden our interactions with beneficiaries (e.g., one-on-one conversations, focus groups, and co-creation activities), and we have several parents on our team.

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

When parents engage in Ready4K activities, they build skills that can last a lifetime. Indeed, Ready4K is designed to positively change what behavioral economists call parents' default engagement behaviors - the things that they do automatically with their children without thinking - by continuously providing examples of how promote child development in fast, fun, and easy ways through everyday moments. The research behind Ready4K shows that this approach can increase parental involvement by 0.2-0.3 standard deviations (effects as large as reducing kindergarten classes by 5-10 students), as well as increase child development by 2-3 months over a year. Given the neuroplasticity of children in the first three years of life, combined with the fact that parenting uncertainty is at its peak in the earliest years, as well as strong evidence in behavioral economics that individuals are more likely to adopt and maintain positive behaviors during key transition periods (like child birth), there are strong reasons to believe that implementing Ready4K in birth to three will have even bigger, longer lasting positive effects. We are currently exploring research opportunities for our birth-to-three Ready4K program. By equipping parents with the knowledge, skills, and emotional support to be the best possible guides in their children's lives starting at birth, scaling Ready4K in birth to three has unique potential to positively change the life trajectories of all children.

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

We chose text messaging as our initial technology specifically to support economically disadvantaged families, as texting is currently unrivaled in terms of accessibility -- 97% of American adults under 50 have cell phones, 98% of cell phone owners text, 98% of texts are opened in the first three minutes of receipt, and traditionally under-served adults text with the highest frequency. By comparison, only 54% of adults with less than a high school degree have a smartphone, the e-mail open rate in education is 26%, and push notification open rates are generally below 5% (and this assumes that parents can download and figure out how to use a mobile application in the first place - non-trivial barriers). Moreover, the research underlying Ready4K was conducted with economically disadvantaged populations, and serving economically disadvantage families makes sound business sense. We partner with institutions serving the largest parent populations, which tend to be in urban centers, and often have dedicated funds for serving disadvantaged populations (e.g., the 30 largest healthcare systems in the U.S. operate nearly 1,500 hospitals, controlling 25%+ of the market). As a Public Benefit Corporation, we have a legal responsibility to promote social benefit, and our mission is to create simple tools for great parenting that are accessible to all. To deepen on our commitment to serving economically disadvantaged families, we recently committed to a series of impact measures.

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

Ready4K leverages the optimal combination of a human design-centered approach, insights from behavioral economics (and multiple other research literatures), curriculum design principles, and technology, with a unique institutional partnerships model to scale small bits of helpful information to parents at an extremely rapid pace. The program’s overall human design-centered approach is to meet parents where they are (in all ways – enrollment, technology, and content), with information that they can integrate into their existing daily routines, in fast, fun, and easy ways. We do not require parents to go out of their way to enroll in the program, adopt new technologies, or uptake wholly new behaviors, as some of our competitors do. For example, we work tirelessly to build tips into authentic parenting moments, leveraging the aspects of child development that parents are particularly well-positioned to promote (like counting the number of steps as you walk with baby to change their diaper, or talking about emotions during reading time when a character expresses a particular feeling). Within our human design-centered approach, Ready4K employs a highly-differentiated curriculum development process. We start by reviewing research in child development, positive parenting, and health behavior promotion (and other literatures), along with recommendations from expert organizations and practitioners to develop an overall set of topics to consider in our scope and sequence. We choose topics with the strongest evidence and practice bases, and we ultimately use curriculum design principals like “shaping” to ensure appropriate behavioral and developmental progressions over the course of each 52-week program (and across years). Within our overall scope and sequence, which has broad topical coverage to support the whole child (others focus on one or a narrow set of skills, which has been shown to be less effective), we leverage a three-texts-per-week model to ensure that we provide parents with all of the necessary supports to promote positive behavior uptake: factual information, action steps, reinforcement, encouragement, and extension. This approach builds on key insights from behavioral economics. On Mondays, we send FACT messages designed to help close information gaps and motivate parents with respect to the skill of the week by highlighting its importance in easy-to-understand ways. On Wednesdays, we send TIP messages to provide parents with fast, fun, and easy action steps that they can take to promote child development by building on existing family routines. On Fridays, we send GROWTH messages to provide parents with reinforcing information, encouragement, and a follow-up tip, for pedagogical scaffolding and extension. Every fifth week, we “spiral” the topics from the previous four weeks by focusing on things a family might do during one particular activity, like going to the laundry mat or grocery store. The Ready4K curriculum, which is aligned to state early learning standards and is available in English and Spanish, is by far the most advanced in the field. Moreover, our unique institutional partnership model, through which we identify key moments to offer Ready4K to parents (moments that add little or no additional time or work burdens on institutions or parents), make signing up for Ready4K very easy – a key to our scaling success to date. Since texting applications are native to most phones, there is no effort required with accessing the technology after signing up, nor is there a learning curve associated with using the program (unlike other technologies, like mobile applications). Maximizing the ease of the enrollment process and using Ready4K have been keys to our success. For example, one of our largest partners, prior to partnering with us, conducted a pilot study in which it offered parents Ready4K, along with the programs of two of our biggest competitors (a mobile application and parent modeling videos), to determine which approach to scale across the state. Ready4K was clear winner in terms of user experience and parental rating of support – many more parents signed up for Ready4K, used it, and found it to be helpful than the other programs. While these innovations alone clearly distinguish ParentPowered from others, our team, which has uncommon strength in experimentation (e.g., the company’s founder has a Ph.D. focused on using methods of causal inference to evaluate early education programs, and the company’s Head of Product has over 20 years of product leadership experience), coupled with the company’s highly-differentiated product road map, will enable us to rapidly increase our innovation lead. Our long-term vision is to stimulate and connect all aspects of what we call the child’s “solar system.” Building on our success scaling Ready4K in early childhood education to scale the program in the healthcare channel is a critical next step in achieving this vision.

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

We scale Ready4K by partnering with institutions that serve large parent populations. By working closely with these institutions to strategically implement the program at key moments, and with minimal effort from parents, we are able to offer Ready4K to all parents and drive industry-leading participation rates (and it isn't particularly close). To ensure equal access to the program, which is at the heart of our social mission, we offer the core version of Ready4K to institutions for free. This unique approach is another critical factor in scaling to reach a significant number of end users, and it requires minimal effort from our team. As we continue to scale, we will also begin to test out viral mechanisms for growing Ready4K. Our strategy of partnering with institutions has been very effective. Since launching in 2016, we have built relationships with over 80 institutions, and we have well over 100 in our pipeline. Remarkably, all of these partnership have come through inbound inquiries or referrals. To sustain our rapid growth, we provide a suite of enhanced services to institutional partners for a fee, such as access to our administrative panel and data and analytics support. With several contracts in house, and many more in our pipeline, our institutional freemium business model has significant momentum. Education markets are highly concentrated (with leaders at 40%+), and the market for parent education programs is $1.5b per annum in the U.S. alone.

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

Based on incoming inquiries and referrals alone, we’ve already begun building partnerships with large institutions across the country to pilot Ready4K with birth-to-three families in healthcare settings (e.g., institutions in Dallas, the Twin Cities, and Chattanooga, to name a few). In addition, we have already built unique, date-of-birth routing technology to enable us to scale our birth-to-three programming. This technology, and the underlying content, also ensure that parents receive developmentally-appropriate messages, tied to their child's age. This technology is a prerequisite to scaling in birth to three, where parents sign up for the program on a rolling basis (unlike in pre-k and at higher levels, where children are grouped into age cohorts). From an operational standpoint, our partnership model allows institutions that are interested in the core, free version of Ready4K to implement the program with little effort from our staff. We receive support for enhanced services, ensuring that our staff time is covered and providing a clear pathway to financial viability. With respect to the overall feasibility of scaling Ready4K in healthcare, there are some existing models the provide reason for optimism. The best example comes from Reach Out and Read (ROR). By incorporating books and parent-child shared reading practices into pediatric care, the non-profit scaled to reach 4.7 million birth-to-five families in the U.S., despite a very rigorous application process and significant implementation and cost burdens on clinics (e.g., clinics must pay nearly $20 per parent in the first year of the baby's life alone). We have already begun exploring innovative cost-sharing partnerships with complementary program providers that serve birth-to-three families in the healthcare channel. In addition to these providers, clinics, hospitals, networks of hospitals, managed healthcare companies, states, and government assistance programs like WIC also have funding streams for parent education resources (e.g., the State of New Jersey recently announced that it will distribute baby boxes filled with diapers and other newborn necessities to all new parents, with a retail cost of $69.99 to $225.00 per box). Conservatively assuming that the healthcare system spends $50 per year on parent education in birth to three, the total health channel market for Ready4K is over $500 million annually. On a final note, our leadership team, which has expertise in early childhood education, as well as deep private and public sector experience and a wide range of core competencies, has the skills and connections necessary to successfully scale Ready4K in the healthcare channel. Given the low cost of Ready4K, its evidence base, its ease of implementation, and initial inbound interest from healthcare providers, we have strong reasons to believe that scaling the program in healthcare is not just feasible, but also has significant economic and impact potential.

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

Our business model has multiple positive proof points this give us a high level of confidence in its overall viability. In our first year and a half of operations alone, we secured and renewed several premium services contracts, despite the fact that we had a very small team and lacked a well-defined sales and marketing process. Today, we have numerous outstanding proposals, and we recently hired a Head of Sales and established a top-to-bottom-funnel sales and marketing process. We’ll add more team members in the very near future to support this process, which is already paying dividends in terms of distinguishing between potential free and premium partners (and increasing sales efficiency overall). A number of our paying community-based organization (CBO) partners have plans to penetrate the healthcare channel with Ready4K, as do some potential CBO payers (one of which is piloting Ready4K in a hospital currently). In addition, other large institutions serving birth-to-three families in healthcare have reached out to us about potential partnerships (including national institutions), and we’ve already begun exploring innovative revenue generation strategies. The initial success of our “institutional freemium” business model in early childhood education also gives us confidence in the model's viability in the healthcare channel, as does the fact that there are multiple potential payers in the space. For example, clinics across the county pay $20 per parent in year one alone to collectively provide children’s books to millions of families, and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program spent $1.9 billion in 2016 on Nutrition Services, which include nutrition education, preventative and coordination services (such as health care), and promotion of breastfeeding and immunization. In addition, the State of New Jersey recently announced that it will distribute baby boxes filled with diapers and other newborn necessities to all new parents (these boxes have a retail cost of $69.99 to $225.00 per box). As a final example, managed healthcare companies like Kaiser Permanente offer parenting classes to their members. Conservatively assuming that the healthcare system spends $50 per year on parent education in birth to three, the total health channel market for Ready4K is over $500 million annually. Ready4K is a substitute or natural complement for services offered by clinics, hospitals, networks of hospitals, managed healthcare companies, states, and government assistance program, providing the company with many paths to economic viability.

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

ParentPowered deeply embraces human-centered design. As a key first step to ensuring a culture of human-centered design, the company is committed to building a highly-empathetic team with members who have diverse lived experiences. This team of diverse individuals engages in a number of activities to gain inspiration from the families and institutions it serves. For example, through his foundational research, the company’s founder, Dr. Ben York conducted in-person focus groups with families at weekly story time at Redwood City Public Library, to gain insights into the problems they faced with respect to promoting child development and whether technology could play a supporting role. He also had countless telephones conversations with families and surveyed them regularly, and he made site visits to public preschools across San Francisco to assess and provide solutions for implementing programs through a school district. Today, the company remains dedicated to continuously gathering insights from its constituents (e.g., listening deeply to partners and asking probing questions about the problems they face is a key part of our partnerships process), and to using these insights for ideation and to experimentally test ideas, all to generate tangible knowledge in the service of building and scaling more engaging products. In particular, ParentPowered engages in several knowledge-generating activities, including: usage and engagement assessment, a/b testing, academic research, and local evaluation. In terms of usage and engagement, by strategically offering Ready4K to families at key moments, we are able to drive program participation rates above 90% in the best cases (even with large institutions serving tens of thousands of families), and program persistence is high, with about 90% of families staying in the program over the course of the school year (and across years). More importantly, Ready4K parents are very engaged in the program, with 95% very likely or likely to refer another parent, 90% reporting that the program is very helpful or helpful, and 85% reporting that they do Ready4K activities two or more times per week with their children. The result of this engagement is a high net promoter score of +63. In addition to gathering usage and engagement data, we also engage in rapid-cycle experimentation, and we currently have a/b tests up and running that examine things like the inclusion of audio, images, links to additional resources, and emoticons to Ready4K texts, as well as tests of dosage and different formulations of the messages. We also conduct rigorous randomized controlled trial research with academic partners. We’re currently participating in studies that examine several aspects of the Ready4K approach, such as language specificity, parental choice, gratification, timing, localization, and summer programming. Overall, we have more than 10 academic studies on-going or planned. ParentPowered also encourages partners to conduct local evaluations. These studies tend to be non-causal but nonetheless provide valuable information on how Ready4K is functioning in different contexts. In one local evaluation, a partner reported that 97% of families found Ready4K activities easy to do, 94% of them found the program helpful as a teaching tool, 83% incorporated Ready4K into daily routines 3-4 times per month or more, and 80% reported that their children were engaged or very engaged in Ready4K activities. Here are some parent quotes that our partner provided to us: “Helps me stay creative. [I read them] every time one is sent. Great tips.” “I love the facts and helpful tips it offers. They give me new ideas to try.” “Very helpful information. I look forward to the weekly texts.” “I try to do it as often as possible sometimes I do forget but I still have them and use them anytime.” As a final note, we recently hired an experienced product leader to broaden our interactions with constituents (e.g., additional one-on-one conversations, parent focus groups, institution focus groups and surveys, and possible co-creation activities). All of the insights we gather from institutions and parents, as well as through our own ideation and testing processes like hackathons and a/b testing, we us for the ultimate refinement of Ready4K.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

Our inspiration comes from our personal experiences and the unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of hardest to reach families. Indeed, each member of our team connects personally to our mission. For example, our founder Ben experienced firsthand the power of positive parenting from his mother, as she always promoted social and emotional well-being, physical development, cognitive stimulation, and positive reinforcement, despite extremely challenging conditions (which Ben is happy to talk about in a non-public forum). Her responsive and stimulating care at an early age gave him the confidence to engage deeply in school, ultimately leading him to be the first person in his immediate family to graduate from college (he then went on to obtain a Master's degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University). Our COO Tiffany Graham has a similar story. While growing up in Detroit, she was strongly encouraged at a young age to pursue academic excellence, which she first did by enrolling in Yale at age 16, and continued to do in TFA, as a Broad Resident, and through the pursuit of two Master's degrees (in business administration and education). Such positive parenting experiences aren't isolated to Ben and Tiffany -- Jon's, Rebecca's, and Kiya's early childhood experience were rich in ways the augment Ben and Tiffany's experiences and demonstrate the many ways in which positive parenting can lead to good life outcomes. Rebecca's mother, for instance, was a kindergarten teacher, and she imbued Rebecca with a deep sense of empathy, imagination, creativity, and academic excellence. Not only have the early experiences of our team underscored the power of positive parenting, they also helped us develop a significant amount of resilience and self-reliance, both of which fuel our tenacity and passion for maximizing our positive impact on the world. What excites us the most about working in the early childhood education space is our potential for impact, not just at the individual- or family-level, but also for society as a whole. Research is now clear that the most rapid period of brain development occurs during the earliest year of life, and parents are often left out of the equation. Collectively, our team has over twenty years working in early childhood education. ParentPowered's founder, Ben York, spent nearly a decade researching innovations in early childhood education at Stanford, and the company's Director of Content, Rebecca Honig, has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street. She also has over a decade of experience authoring curricula, parent guides, and children's storybooks (for Sesame Workshop, Scholastic, and PBS, to name a few), as well as three young children who keep her current on all things related to kids and parents. ParentPowered's other team members complement Ben and Rebecca, with deep expertise in sales, operations, finance, and technology.

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

As described above, ParentPowered has the people it needs to achieve success. The company's leadership team alone has well over 50 years of professional experience, six graduated degrees (including three Master's degrees and a Ph.D. in education), and deep expertise in early childhood education, sales, operations, finance, and technology. In addition, the company is adding a Head of Product, and its building capacity in key areas. While the company has over 180 current and pipeline partners, it's just beginning to build health partners and would benefit greatly from connections.

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)

We could use help from healthcare experts, HIPPA compliance experts, and those with experience successfully scaling programs in healthcare (e.g., hospitals, wellness programs, and government assistance programs). We would also welcome connections the health institutions that might be interested in offering Ready4K to their families, as well as connections to healthcare experts who may want to join our advisory board.

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

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

We would benefit from mentoring support focused on penetrating the healthcare channel.

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).

Ben is the Founder of Ready4K and the CEO of ParentPowered PBC. Prior to starting ParentPowered, he was the founding Executive Director of CEPA Labs at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. At Stanford, he spent nearly a decade researching technological innovations in education. He has a B.A. in economics from the University of Colorado, summa cum laude, as well as an M.A. in political science and a Ph.D. in education from Stanford.

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

Our mentor, Fred, provided us with very helpful feedback on our proposal; and, drawing on firsthand experiences, he also shared valuable insights on scaling interventions in healthcare. Based on his feedback and insights, we made several refinements to our submission materials (e.g., more clearly highlighting our evidence base, value proposition, scaling plan, business model, and expected impact). Fred also offered to connect us to additional mentors and potential implementation partners in healthcare, and we will certainly take him up on that offer. We may even collaborate together in the future.


Join the conversation:

Photo of May Aldwais

It was so much pleasure reading this proposal since it identifies a serious issue that maybe not everyone aware of it and applies simple way to overcome it. Love the idea and hope it sees the light! All the best!

Photo of Yuanyuan Tan

This idea is pretty good which can make mobile phones available to parents of all income level

Photo of Ben @ ParentPowered PBC

Hi Iliriana,

Thanks for taking the time to read our application and comment! We totally agree that finding new and deeper ways to engage parents will be a critical component of making the program more adaptive over time. Gamification is something that we think about quite deeply -- if you receive our texts, you'll notice that many of the activities we recommend center around parent/child play. Moving forward, I think that our efforts to promote deeper engagement and interactivity will center around making the in-text experience richer overall. As you noted, text messaging is a very practical channel for reaching parents where they are at, regardless of their income, and equal access is core to our social mission.


Photo of Iliriana Kacaniku

Hey Ben ParentPowered PBC 

Welcome to the Early Childhood Innovation Prize. We're thrilled to host your idea and help it grow on the plaftorm and through our human-centered design approach and toolkits. I enjoyed reading your proposal about engaging with parents through Ready4K and weekly text messages. I think you have identified a very practical channel to reach parents of all levels of income where they are, their cell phone. I am curious to learn bit more on what is your vision about tracking parents application and engagement? My first thought was on gamification of the process. As parents apply the text advice, they provide feedback on baby's behavior or reactions, and gradually progress to new levels of advice. Any thoughts?

Best regards,