On October 15, 2019, 15 finalists pitched their ideas in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. The panel of judges included: Chuck Carter, senior evidence director at Project Evident, Lynette Fraga, executive director of Child Care Aware of America, Enyi Okebugwu, education initiative analyst at Omidyar Network, Lisa van der Pool, vice president at InkHouse, a public relations firm just outside of Boston, Mass., and Rick Weissbourd, senior lecturer on education and faculty director of the Human Development and Psychology Master's Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
"We are so grateful to the finalists for their tremendous commitment to the field and to progress, which made the second annual Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge as inspiring and powerful as the first," said Nonie Lesaux and Stephanie Jones, co-directors of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative strives to support and catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship in early education. Through the Innovation Challenge, we aim to seed the field with new ideas, fresh thinking, and strategic approaches that have the capacity to transform the quality of early learning environments, focusing on both adults and children. We are excited to present the winners of the 2019 Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge, whose cutting-edge ideas contribute to making that vision a reality."
First, second and third place winners were selected within each of the tracks:
Strong Families, Mighty South Ward Loyalty Program — An innovative loyalty program designed to motivate and reward Newark families for continual use of the high-quality two-generation resources in their community. (New Jersey)
2Gen Includes Men: Supporting Baltimore City Children and Their Fathers Through the Power of Play — A two-generation program at Baltimore's Port Discovery Children's Museum that actively engages low-income fathers and their young children through regular and ongoing playful learning experiences, including monthly father-child parenting and play workshops, events, and activities. (Maryland)
Tied for third place: Flourish in Frazer Forest — Bringing inclusive early learning experiences outdoors through a project-based forest learning curriculum. (Georgia) SmartShift: Early Learning Centralized Float Pool Application — A first-to-market digital staffing application designed to build short-term and part-time workforce capacity while also offering unusual suspects the chance to enter the early childhood education field. (Indiana)
The QuickCheck® — A simple tech tool that breaks down teacher professional learning curricula into manageable strategies, helping teachers build their skills and become fluent in effective classroom practices. (California)
Building the Muscle: Arts Integration Professional Learning for Early Educators — Giving early childhood educators the tools and confidence to support children's learning through the arts. (Missouri)
Telepractice Services for Communication Disorders at West Liberty University — Creating a telehealth suite within a university clinic setting to ensure children and families across rural West Virginia have access to high-quality speech, language and hearing services. (West Virginia)
FASTalk — An evidence-based tool that helps teachers engage diverse families and improve student outcomes through curriculum-aligned text messages delivered in families' home languages and two-way parent-teacher messaging with automated translation. (California)
Shared Services for Providers — A "partnership, not product" approach designed to help child care providers efficiently manage their business and improve quality for the children and families in their care. (Colorado)
Connected for Success — Creating a unified statewide framework in Mississippi to improve care and access to services for both children and their families across the state's mixed delivery system. (Mississippi)
About The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) promotes the knowledge, professional learning, and collective action necessary to cultivate optimal early learning environments and experiences. The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative is supported by a $35.5 million gift from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, one of the largest gifts ever given to a university for advancing early childhood education.