Saul Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge
Seeding the field of early education with new ideas, fresh thinking, and strategic approaches that have the potential for widespread and sustainable impact for children.
Why an innovation challenge now?
We are at a pivotal moment for early education: there is tremendous interest and excitement along with expansion in access in many cities and towns across the nation. Today, only two in ten children are exposed to a high-quality early education experience, despite decades of research demonstrating that it is high-quality experiences that drive sustainable outcomes for children and families. Now is the time for creative, collaborative solutions that will increase early education opportunities and positive outcomes for all children.
What is the Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge?
The Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge will provide funding to recognize promising new ideas that have the potential to transform early education. We are seeking ideas and approaches that promote positive outcomes at multiple levels of the early education system, including the home, classroom, program and networks, and/or policy.
Why is the Zaentz Initiative hosting this Challenge?
The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative seeks to be a leading connector for innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of early education. We recognize that new ideas are needed in our field, and we want to use this Challenge to seed the field with fresh thinking and strategic approaches that drive sustainable, transformative change.
2019 Challenge Timeline
Online application launchedDate: 05/22/19
Optional informational webinar (9AM)Date: 08/02/19
Online application deadline (11:59PM)Date: 08/30/19
Finalists announcedDate: 09/25/19
Finalist pitches at HGSEDate: 10/15/19
Proposals are initially judged on their quality, relevance, and design. Once finalists are selected, they present their proposals to a panel of expert judges and a live audience during the final pitch event. Final pitches should include information about the problem, solution, and future of the proposal, and should keep in mind the values of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative: Aspiration, Equity, Scientific Integrity, Connectivity, and Communication.
Finalists are invited to pitch their ideas live at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Each team has approximately three minutes to pitch their proposal to a panel of judges and an audience. A three-minute Q & A with the judges follows each pitch. Up to two members from each team may participate on stage.
- The Idea Track is designed for applicants who have formulated an idea but have not yet built, tested, formally incorporated, or raised funding for their concept.
- The Pilot Track is designed for applicants who have developed and released a prototype. This track is intended for individuals or teams who have raised less than $50,000 for their proposed solution at the time of entry, including all revenue, donations, and/or investments.
- The Scaling Track is for applicants who have launched their product or service and are seeking funding to refine their product to scale it.
2019 Winners & Finalists
Idea Track Winners
Participants: Jasmine Spencer, Ashanti Jones, Fady Ibrahim
Participant: Patricia Hoge
Participants: Susie Riddick, Tonja Holder
Participants: Maureen Weber, Brittany Krier
Pilot Track Winners
Participant: Sheetal Singh
Participants: Abby Crawford, Crystal Cauley
Participants: Stephanie Bradley, Tori Gilbert
Scaling Track Winners
Participants: Vidya Sundaram, Elisabeth O’Bryon
Participants: Judy Williams, Michael Taylor
Participants: Micca Knox, Katerina Sergi
Idea Track Finalists
Participants: Maureen Weber, Brittany Krier
Participant: Lauren Berman
Pilot Track Finalists
Participant: Susan MacDonald
Participants: DeLonn Crosby, Scott Schanke
Scaling Track Finalists
Participant: Mona Malan
Participants: Ruth Schmidt, Katherine Magnuson
2019 Innovation Challenge Finalist Pitches
The finalists were chosen from more than 160 ideas submitted by organizations and individuals from across the country. The majority of applicants identified as early educators and teachers, early education instructional personnel, policy and community organizing groups, edtech and entrepreneur groups, and university-affiliated groups and researchers.
On October 15, 2019, 15 finalists pitched their ideas in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.
Scaling track, 3rd Place
Leveraging Text Messages to Support Early Childhood Development and Parental Resilience
Scaling track, 2nd Place
Leading Men Fellowship Program
Scaling track, 1st Place
The Beautiful Stuff Project
Pilot track, 3rd Place
Louisiana Early Childhood Leaders Fellowship
Pilot track, 2nd Place
Bienvenida a ESCALERAS
Pilot track, 1st Place
Building Single Points of Entry that Serve Families and Communities
Idea track, 3rd Place
Pin Your Park: An Offtrail Lesson Planning Guide for Educators
Idea track, 2nd Place
Seeds of Learning: The New Britain Infant/Toddler Early Childhood Business Incubator
Idea track, 1st Place
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