Hi Kelly: I'm writing at the request of the GHR Foundation to weigh in specifically on the questions around which you requested feedback. Full disclosure, my area of expertise is in K-12 education policy. While my work focuses on language learners, it does so for a different purpose and with a different population. All to say, I've done my best to respond to your questions, but take only the feedback that feels relevant and useful to you!
Q1: I recommend exploring the nonprofit ecosystem in Boston to determine whether there are capacity building organizations that can support your infrastructure development. For example, in my hometown of Minneapolis, there are nonprofit capacity builders that provide services like: • Bookkeeping and other financial supports; • Helping organizations pooling together to ensure affordable, high quality benefits for employees (e.g. health insurance); • Provide governance and leadership development training and supports. Similar organizations may exist in Boston and could provide low or no cost services as your infrastructure grows and your program expands.
Additionally, have you mapped where you fit within a broader workforce development ecosystem in Boston? Perhaps by convening (or asking a funder to convene) a group of workforce development organizations. It may be worth developing partnerships with other organizations to develop a “no wrong door philosophy.” In other words, if a candidate ripe for participation in Found in Translation arrives at another nonprofit looking for assistance, there’s an easy referral system in place by which she can find her way to you. My colleagues who work in this arena report that when organizations in a neighborhood adopted this approach, they were better able to target their services and collectively expand their impact.
Q2: If I understand your question correctly, you're curious about how to collect impact data in health care settings given patient privacy concerns. Health care is not my field, so I can't provide a clear answer to your question (apologies)! That being said, my field of education has recently adopted an approach (adapted from medicine) called improvement science (https://www.carnegiefoundation.org/blog/why-a-nic/). Improvement science uses small tests of change in a complex setting to better understand impact and support innovation. Again, I'm not sure this is the type of resource you're looking for in this question, but I share in case it's useful.
Q3: Salesforce and similar data platforms (which you are already exploring) provide strong foundations for this kind of data collection. If you’re also interested in understanding how your programming builds social capital, you may want to explore tools like social network analysis, approaches like Developmental or Principles Based Evaluation (see Michael Quinn Patton for strong resources in this arena: http://www.utilization-focusedevaluation.org/our-team/).
While somewhat outside of your specific topic area, Promise Neighborhoods have developed thoughtful resources for capturing a wealth of qualitative and quantitative data. You may want to review the data and evaluation section of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink (http://www.promiseneighborhoodsinstitute.org/FindResources/Library?f%5B0%5D=field_resource_category%3A4596) to see if there are resources of benefit to you.
I'm writing with some comments in response to the questions you raised for feedback. While I'm reasonably familiar with early childhood and dual language learners (and think this idea sounds fascinating!), I'm less well-versed in the Latin American context. Take only what feedback feels relevant and useful!
Q1: At first blush, I don’t see the danger in expanding to other immigrant groups as it appears Talking Stickers are not designed to be used with only one language or type of language. As you consider working in a more linguistically and culturally diverse school, you may be interested in this recent webinar from the Migration Policy Institute – “Effectively Serving Children in a Superdiverse Classroom: Implications for the Early Education System.” (https://www.migrationpolicy.org/events/effectively-serving-children-superdiverse-classroom-implications-early-education-system). Although this webinar focuses on the US context, it may be applicable as it considers how best to support language learners in classrooms where students speak multiple languages. In general, Migration Policy Institute may be a good resource, as it considers immigrant issues across the globe.
Q2: Since I am not a GHR employee, I can’t speak to your specific questions about how BridgeBuilder leaders would interpret other forms of support. Unfortunately, I am also not an expert in Latin America. I did, however, do some searching. I found a UNESCO report that suggests rates of participation in early education are particularly low in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Paraguay. This report is from 2008, so it’s worth investigating whether participation rates have increased in those countries.
Q3: You’re smart to be thinking early about government funding. I’m not familiar with the Latin American context. In the U.S context, one approach to building the case for public funding would be to ensure that a robust evaluation accompanies your program. If a third-party partner can demonstrate that Talking Stickers provide the impacts you want, it makes a stronger case for public investment. The early learning field in the United States also has benefited from economic analyses that show the return on investment (https://www.impact.upenn.edu/our-analysis/opportunities-to-achieve-impact/early-childhood-toolkit/why-invest/what-is-the-return-on-investment/) from funding early childhood education and the strong benefits of bilingualism (https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/11/29/497943749/6-potential-brain-benefits-of-bilingual-education). This kind of social impact case building can also help spur public investment.
Thank you for sharing your ideas! At the request of the GHR Foundation, I'm writing with some specific thoughts about the areas in which you requested feedback.
Question 1: Raising general operating support is common challenge among nonprofits. Successful fundraising often requires making a strong case for the kind of support you need. Given how tangible the supports you provide for students and volunteers are, I'm not surprised that donors are eager to fund learning centers, materials, etc. I would think about how you can go about communicating the tremendous amount of behind the scenes work that goes into making a successful learning center. The Foundation Center may focus on the US context, but it offers free webinars on developing a fundraising strategy - including making a case for support and diversifying your donor base. You can find http://grantspace.org/training/courses/introduction-to-fundraising-planning/?_ga=2.139050611.1357706935.1532447518-889432860.1530649053http://grantspace.org/training/courses/introduction-to-fundraising-planning/?_ga=2.139050611.1357706935.1532447518-889432860.1530649053
Another avenue to consider, when you apply for formal grants from Foundations, would be to include a portion of each budget (say 10 percent) for administrative support.
Q2. How to streamline human-intensive processes for effective scale up of our prototype? We need both ideas and funds for this segment.
This is another great question. As you expand your centers, you may want to consider developing a cadre of expert volunteer trainers who can do two things: support learning center expansion by directly training volunteers and train a head volunteer (or similar) in each training center who can then onboard new volunteers. This training cadre and "train the trainer" model is very common in the United States (the context with which I'm most familiar). The US Centers for Disease Control has a Healthy Schools initiative that uses this approach and provides resources for individuals considering adopting it. You can learn more here: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/tths/trainingcadre/index.htm
In the context in which I work (US education) scaling programs effectively proves quite challenging. I find it occurs most successfully when program leaders have engaged in deep reflection and analysis to understand the key principles that enable their program's success. This focus on principles seem to hold more value than cataloguing and replicating program activities because it allows programs to identify the conditions and contexts that fundamentally enable the success of their work (in your case, one of these could be proximity of affluence and poverty, which supports the bridging of social classes on which your impact relies). Once these principles are articulated, and you have a means of assessing their presence or absence, you may be better positioned to determine where and how to expand. As a funder, I also feel more confident funding the expansion or replication of ideas when its clear to me that the program has a strong sense of the conditions under which its work will be successful. Moreover, a focus on principles-based expansion (as opposed to activity replication) allows for more successful adaptation of a program to different contexts. The Stanford Social Innovation Review has published a number of articles that consider the issue of scaling social change. I highly recommend you review some of the ideas published there to help you conceptualize what a plan for scale or expansion might look like in your context: https://ssir.org/topics/category/scaling. A recently published article by William Meeham and Kim Starkey (https://ssir.org/articles/entry/earning_the_right_to_scale) offers a matrix to help organizations understand their 'readiness to scale.' The article features an Indian NGO - Pratham, which might be of interest to you.