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Abt Researcher Advises Students in Prestigious Competition to Solve Early Education Challenges

Todd Grindal (center), an Abt Associates early childhood education expert, served as an informal consultant to the six finalist teams for the Hult Prize.
Todd Grindal (center), an Abt Associates early childhood education expert, served as an informal consultant to the six finalist teams for the Hult Prize. Here, Grindal speaks with teams during a workshop on child and early brain development.
Photo credit: Giuseppe Saviano, Hult Prize Foundation The Hult Prize – the largest student competition in the world – encourages young people from around the globe to develop solutions to some of the world’s toughest social challenges. Winners receive a $1 million prize to carry out their proposal.
 
This year, more than 22,000 competitors applied to pitch their ideas on how to provide quality early education to 10 million children under age six in urban slums by 2020. From those applicants, hundreds of teams were selected to pitch their ideas in regional competitions. Of those, six teams were chosen to participate in a six-week workshop at the Hult International School of Business in Cambridge, Mass. to refine their ideas. They also attended a ceremony to pick the winners in New York City on Sept. 26.
 
Todd Grindal, an Abt Associates early childhood education expert, was brought in by the Hult Prize Committee and its partner, the Clinton Global Initiative, to serve as an informal consultant to the six finalist teams. Grindal led the teams through a day-long workshop on child and early brain development, and served as a judge during a presentation featuring the teams’ solutions. Grindal also participated in some of the Clinton Global Initiative events in New York City leading up to the winners’ announcement.
 
The teams also participated in a pilot exercise, the Brain Architecture Game, with Grindal. The game, developed by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, is geared toward helping participants develop a deeper understanding of the interaction between genes and experiences, and how that relates to later learning behavior.
 
“The Hult Prize is bringing together some of the world’s best young minds to help develop scalable and sustainable ideas,” Grindal said. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see how the students are tackling the challenge of improving early childhood education.”
 
This year’s winner was IMPCT, which proposed turning the many existing informal, small child care centers in Latin America into education centers. Many mothers provide child care to a few additional children to allow their parents to work. IMPCT relies on crowdfunding and a network of NGO partners to carry out the work.
 
Other finalist proposals called for:
  • Delivering educational curricula, in text in audio, via mobile phones;
  • Libromats – affordable laundry services combined with courses that parents and children can enjoy together;
  • Talking stickers, which can be attached to anything and play recorded words, which would help increase the number of words children in slums would be exposed to; and
Since 2010, the Hult Prize has challenged young people around the world to develop innovative social enterprises that aim to tackle significant issues affecting billions of people. The prize is offered in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative and is hosted and supported by the Hult International Business School.
 
Past competitions have focused on the world’s food crisis and non-communicable diseases in urban slums.
 
Follow Todd Grindal on Twitter @Grindato and read his blog on the Huffington Post.
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