Early Childhood Innovation Prize

The first few years of a child’s life lay the foundation for future success, but too many young children aren’t reaching their full potential because existing approaches to early learning and development are not sufficiently addressing today’s challenges.

To build a pipeline of potentially transformative early childhood investment opportunities, GCI partnered with OpenIDEO on the Early Childhood Innovation Prize, which launched in fall 2017 and brought together hundreds of innovators and experts to collaboratively answer the urgent question: How might we maximize every child’s potential during their first three years of life?

The Prize sourced ideas from new innovators with early concepts in development, early stage innovators with at least one year prototyping or piloting experience and advanced innovators with more than three years experience, and it asked them to focus on three opportunity areas: improving early experiences so they are healthy and constructive; supporting parents and families to give children the best start; and leveraging neighborhoods and communities to create safe, engaging early learning environments. Ideas that fell outside of these areas but were particularly novel or breakthrough were also considered.

Learn more about the Prize’s topic and process and our goals for using open innovation to seek early childhood solutions.  


The Prize tapped into the brainpower of thinkers from diverse backgrounds who were willing to offer ideas that are novel to the early childhood sector, or more effective, efficient or scalable than current ones. In addition, Prize participants had access to mentorship from experts and thought leaders in the fields of early childhood, design innovation, entrepreneurship and many others.


Ideas Submitted
Innovators Received Mentorship
Individuals Contributed to the Prize Community


Based on our evaluation criteria, the following 15 winners represent the most cutting-edge, breakthrough solutions to emerge through the Prize. To support and accelerate these ideas through access to experts, mentors and investors, GCI is partnering with OpenIDEO to pilot the Early Childhood Innovation Network.



With hundreds of submissions from around the globe, choosing the winners was a challenge. Although not selected to receive funding, these ideas are examples of promising early childhood solutions, and they will be invited to participate in the early childhood innovation network



  • Childfolio and Johns Hopkins University: TLC2 (Early Experiences Matter)
  • Parent Powered: Ready4K (Supporting Parents & Families)