Thursday, March 26th, 2015
- Blog contributed by Kelly Quackenbush, MPA ’15
On Friday, March 13th, my team and I piled into Tim’s van for the drive up to San Francisco, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have butterflies in our stomachs. We were on our way to compete against nearly 50 other schools in the 2015 Regional Hult Competition. The challenge this year was “How can we provide quality early education to ten million children under age six in urban slums?”
My team consisted of Timothy Cunningham, Katie Barthelow, Noah Halton, and myself, and we had been working together for 6 months on our social enterprise, the Learning Roots Network. Our idea was to use technology to facilitate real-life interaction between caregiver and child. We would organize workshops about holistic early childhood education, and facilitate activity design sessions whereby residents in slums would create activities that made sense to them. These would be simple, short activities, such as stacking cups, identifying colors around the house, or counting grains of rice. Our idea was based on the premise that knowledge already exists in slums. What we wanted to do was shine a light on those local ways of knowing and nurture them to create a marketable product (which we call an “activity-based app”). Ultimately, we hoped, we would challenge people’s ideas about where knowledge comes from (doesn’t have to be from “experts”), and how value is created (value can come from slum communities).
Friday afternoon we arrived for registration and were handed folders, asked to pose for pictures, and shown to our very own break-out room, where we could relax and prepare. Half the teams would present in the morning, and half in the afternoon. We were scheduled for the morning, which meant that we would hear other teams’ pitches in the afternoon. Our friend Nicole Manapol volunteered to accompany us for the day as our “team advisor” and it was wonderful to have the extra support as we practiced our pitch the last few times. Finally, we were called.