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Early Learning Indiana Named Finalist in National Early Education Innovation Challenge

The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education today announced Early Learning Indiana as a finalist for its 2019 Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge. In its second year, the Challenge recognizes promising new ideas and strategic approaches that have the potential to accelerate positive change and transform the quality of early education.

“After reviewing the submissions for this year’s Challenge, we are truly excited to announce the 2019 finalists,” said Challenge co-directors, Nonie Lesaux and Stephanie Jones. “Decades of research, including some of our own through the Zaentz Initiative, show that parents and caregivers worry a great deal about getting children off to a strong start, and, as a nation, we look to the younger generation for a bright, bold future. There is an urgent need for new solutions and tools that will increase early education opportunities and positive outcomes for all children. This is the motivation behind the Zaentz Innovation Challenge — to seed the field with cutting-edge ideas that have the capacity to drive lasting, widespread change in early education.”

Early Learning Indiana CEO Maureen Weber and Chief Strategy Officer Brittany Krier will travel to the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Boston in October to pitch their innovative idea around solving the staffing challenges facing early child care centers across the U.S. A panel of judges and a live audience will evaluate the pitches and determine the Challenge winners.


Early Learning Indiana’s Idea for Transforming Early Education

“For early learning providers working with razor-thin margins and no room for error in meeting ratio requirements, staffing poses a perennial challenge. We’ve proposed a first-to-market digital staffing application, inspired by successful models in other industries like Uber, AirBNB and OpenShift, to offer a centralized resource or ‘float’ pool that providers can access on demand. This application is positioned to build short-term and part-time workforce capacity, while also offering unusual suspects the chance to enter the early childhood education field. We are thrilled to be named a finalist and excited about the opportunities this innovation could create for child care providers across the country.” — Maureen Weber


The Challenge drew more than 160 ideas from organizations and individuals around the world. The majority of applications came from individuals and teams affiliated with early learning centers and schools, state and local early education agencies, education nonprofits, policy and advocacy organizations, edtech entrepreneurship and universities. Challenge organizers then whittled the pool down to 15 finalists.

The finalists will pitch their ideas and plans at an event on October 15, 2019 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. ET, which will also be livestreamed here. Learn more information on the 2019 Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge and its finalists.

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