Organization Details

What is your organization's name?

Blue Butterfly

What is your organization's classification?


In what city, town, or region is your organization headquartered?

Boston, MA, USA

Provide your organization’s mission and/or vision statement and list its core values.

Blue Butterfly is devoted to inspiring a generation of learners through the power of engaging educational media. Blue Butterfly’s Lakou Kajou project in Haiti is a multi-platform educational program for young children that builds literacy, math, science, and prosocial skills. Working with local educators, musicians, film professionals, artists, and researchers, Blue Butterfly catalyzes positive change in children’s attitudes, knowledge, and behavior.

Our core values are:

  • Cultural Relevance—Children deserve educational materials that feature settings and characters they can relate to.
  • Local Production—We are building the capacity of the Lakou Kajou team in Haiti to produce high-quality educational materials.
  • Educationally Rigorous—Our Lakou Kajou program meets educational objectives set by the Haitian Ministry of Education
  • Entertaining—We develop fun stories with engaging characters that appeal to children because learning can be fun!
  • Deep Local Connections—Blue Butterfly’s network of community partners help us test and implement our programs in Haitian schools and homes.
  • Home Language—Research shows that children learn best in the language they speak at home. Our Lakou Kajou program is exclusively in Haitian Creole, the native language of most Haitians.

Blue Butterfly is addressing the root causes of poor educational attainment in Haiti by creating innovative, culturally relevant tools, resources, and capacity to transform pedagogy, ensuring that Haitian children receive the holistic education necessary to succeed in the world today. Our programs help children claim the best of Haitian culture—its music, art, and history—while fostering the critical thinking and communication skills they need to combat the structures that hold their society back.

What makes us different is that we are bringing evidence-based educational innovations to Haiti and customizing them to match the realities of life in the remote communities we serve.

How many products or programs does your organization operate? Please use numeric values only.


What stage of development is your organization’s product or program that is the focus of your LEAP Project?

Growth: An organization with an established product or program that is rolled out in one or more communities.
Team Lead Details

Who (first and last name) is the Team Lead for your application and LEAP Project?

Charlotte F. Cole, Ed.D.

Describe the role the Team Lead plays in your organization. [100-200 words recommended]

Dr. Cole provides overall vision and strategic direction for Blue Butterfly and for its initiatives and projects, including oversight of the organization’s educational programming and research. Her specialty is the intersection of education and entertainment. She inspires educators to make learning fun and she encourages media professionals to be mindful of specific educational objectives. Her strongest commitment is to the principle that the most effective educational products are developed locally, ensuring their cultural relevance.

Dr. Cole brings to her role over two and a half decades of experience working in international development and has applied her expertise in curriculum design, educational content creation, and research in the support of large-scale educational media projects in more than thirty countries. Prior to co-founding Blue Butterfly, Dr. Cole was senior vice president of global education at Sesame Workshop. She led the education, research, and community engagement activities associated with the company’s international co-productions of Sesame Street. Dr. Cole received her doctorate in human development and psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is the editor of The Sesame Effect published by Routledge and her research appears in publications such as the International Journal of Behavioral Development and Communication Research Trends.

Explain how your Team Lead and supporting team members are well-positioned to effectively support the LEAP Project, given other priorities within your organization. [200-500 words - recommended]

Research is a core element of our iterative content development process. The LEAP sprint will fit within our overall research strategy. Research is one of the ways we receive the perspective of our target population and gain insights to help us make improvements in our programs. Dr. Charlotte Cole, our Team Lead, has been at the forefront of using research to drive programmatic development in the field of educational media. We welcome the input of the LEAP fellows, and any assistance they can provide to help us elevate the rigor of our research. We will make the LEAP sprint a priority and look forward to the outcomes.

Solution Details

One-line solution summary: In 20 words or less, summarize your organization's product or program that is the focus of your LEAP Project.

Blue Butterfly’s Eksploratoryòm is a story-based STEM education program that is elevating teaching and learning in Haiti.

Define the problem that your solution seeks to solve. [200-500 words recommended]

Mitchel lives in rural Haiti. Like other fifth graders in Haiti, he has never experienced a full year of school. Since 2018, schools across the country have faced prolonged periods of closure due to civil unrest, COVID-19, fuel shortages, and gang violence.

Even when Mitchel is able to attend school, the challenges to receiving the education he deserves are enormous. Despite Haiti’s historic abolition of colonial slavery two hundred years ago, its education system remains a powerful force perpetuating the legacy of colonialism by reinforcing inequality and deepening poverty. Teachers rely on outmoded approaches that mimic the authoritarian structures of Haiti’s colonial past. Instruction is typically in the colonial language, French, rather than students’ native language, Haitian Creole. Most schools lack basic infrastructure such as electricity. Publicly funded schools are rare.

As a result, educational outcomes for children are often poor:

  • Only 41 percent of primary-age children are in school
  • Only 46 percent of students complete primary school
  • At least 40 percent of adults are not literate

(Statistics from USAID and World Bank)

Describe your solution and how it works in simple terms. [200-500 words recommended]

Haitian children are being left behind in part because educators are using tools from the past. The reliance on outdated teaching approaches does not prepare Haitian students for today’s world.

Blue Butterfly’s Eksploratoryòm is elevating teaching and learning in Haiti through its engaging, story-based teaching approach. The program’s interactive audio lessons and appropriate use of technology bring science to life for students. In one lesson, for example, students learn about vertebrates by hearing a story of a girl who takes care of a puppy. She discovers that the puppy has a spine, and so does she!

Eksploratoryòm is a culturally relevant way to bring 21st-century pedagogy to under-resourced schools in Haiti. We don’t just train teachers in an academic way that is removed from their day-to-day reality. Instead, teachers learn a new way to teach by teaching in that new way. The program’s carefully constructed lesson plans help teachers implement the program within the challenging contexts of their schools. They see for themselves how children develop and grow when they are free to ask questions, solve problems, and communicate answers.

Eksploratoryòm is challenging teachers to shift toward a student-centered approach that accommodates students with different learning styles. First, our hands-on training and coaching helps teachers understand learning variability and how to accommodate it in the classroom. Second, our student materials introduce science concepts using a mix of visual, auditory and kinesthetic approaches. Finally, all our content is designed to reflect the culturally context in which Haitian children live. Not only are the lessons presented in the language children speak at home (which is not typical in Haiti) but they use settings, characters, and images that are familiar and relatable.

Select the key characteristics of your target population. Select all that apply.

  • Primary school children (ages 5-12)
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations

In which country or countries does your solution currently operate?


Upload your solution's Theory of Change or Logic Model.

Where would you place your solution on Nesta's Standards of Evidence?

Level 3: You can demonstrate causality using a control or comparison group.

To date, what research/studies has your organization conducted that have helped demonstrate the effectiveness of your solution? [200-500 words recommended]

We have concrete evidence that our solutions are working. We have conducted or commissioned the following studies of our products & programs:

Engagement/Formative Studies—During our content development process we have conducted numerous formative studies with children, parents, and teachers to assess user engagement, educational effectiveness and implementation feasibility. These studies have helped us adjust our content during production.

Lakou Kajou Video—Two studies demonstrated evidence of the value of our approach by assessing the educational impact of our Lakou Kajou video series:

  • In 2016-17, Fluent Research conducted a pre-post study of 55 children in a rural community of Haiti. The study showed a link between viewing the Lakou Kajou video series and improvement in the curricular areas covered by the program: literacy, science, and Haitian community. [STUDY REPORT]
  • In 2020-2021, Dr. Dena Borzekowski and her colleagues from the University of Maryland (USA) conducted a randomized controlled trial of the Lakou Kajou video series. The study placed the 899 child participants into an experimental group and a control group. Children in the Lakou Kajou viewing group outperformed those in the control group on every measure tested. Specifically, children who viewed Lakou Kajou made gains of 25% in literacy and 24% in numeracy, and 15% with respect to the transversal theme of gender equity. [STUDY REPORT]

Eksploratoryòm—We conducted a pre- and post-test study of the pilot of our Eksploratoryòm science education program with 950 children in 16 schools in rural Haiti during the 2021-2022 academic year. Children in Eksploratoryòm classrooms showed an 18% greater improvement in science learning than those in the comparison group. A survey of teachers in the Eksploratoryòm classrooms found that 100% agreed or strongly agreed that the program helped them teach science more effectively. [STUDY REPORT]

What has the research/studies you have conducted revealed about your solution and how did it inform your work moving forward? [200-500 words recommended]

Our research has provided valuable feedback on our approach as well as evidence of its effectiveness.

On a macro-level, the research has revealed that:

  • Overall, our model is effective. Children exposed to our educational resources make measurable progress in their learning.

Specific feedback that has helped us modify our programs include:

  • Repetition—Children benefit from repeat exposure, so our implementation guidance now encourages teachers & caregivers to allow children repeat viewing/listening.
  • Numeracy—Our early content did not include numeracy, so we have added more math and numeracy elements.
  • Literacy—Children in our test samples showed low levels of literacy knowledge. We have made a commitment to including literacy objectives in all of our content, even when it is not the primary subject area. For example, our Eksploratoryòm is focused on STEM but also builds children’s literacy skills through its story-based approach.
  • Teacher professional development—One big surprise from our research relates to the implementation of Eksploratoryòm in classrooms. The program’s audio lessons were first designed to be broadcast on radio stations, but we soon realized that the program could be used in schools as well. Our pilot implementation in schools revealed that it is not only an effective science education program, but it is also an innovative tool for elevating teaching. Eksploratoryòm models a student-centered approach that teachers are applying across the curriculum.
LEAP Project Details

Describe your organization's need to strengthen the evidence base of your solution. [200-500 words recommended]

We have strong scientific evidence of the educational value of our approach, thanks to the 2021 randomized controlled trial conducted by Dr. Dina B Borzekowski and her colleagues at the University of Maryland. We also have an indication of the impact of our Eksploratoryòm on student learning, thanks to our school-based pilot implementation.

We would like to strengthen the evidence base of our Eksploratoryòm program at two levels:

  1. Its value as a tool for STEM education
  2. Its value as a tool for teacher professional development

Eksploratoryòm is at an inflection point in its growth trajectory and is poised to be replicated across Haiti. To date we have:

  • completed Eksploratoryòm’s comprehensive package of student lessons and teacher support materials for preschool, 1st and 2nd grades (with 3rd and 4th grades in development);
  • piloted the materials in over 65 schools in four communities in Haiti;
  • trained over 150 educators who are reaching over 5,000 students; and
  • completed a pre- and post-test of students in implementation classrooms (results expected summer 2023).

We are ready to expand the program to additional grade levels and replicate the implementation in additional schools. Building the evidence of the value of this program will help us gain additional support to expand the program and replicate in other communities.

What are 2-3 research questions that you would like your LEAP Project to help you answer? [100 words recommended]

  1. Do children in classrooms using the Eksploratoryòm make measurable learning gains in science, as well as transversal domains such as gender equity and socio-emotional skills?
  2. Does the Eksploratoryòm's immersive teacher-training program shift Haitian teachers' classroom practices and improve student learning outcomes in science?


What type of research/studies do you think will help answer your stated questions? Select all that apply.

  • Summative research (e.g. correlational studies; quasi-experimental studies; randomized control studies)

Please elaborate on your selection above by describing your desired outputs of the 12-week LEAP Project sprint. [200 - 500 words recommended]

Our organization would benefit from a LEAP sprint focused on the design of a research program to build the evidence base for our Eksploratoryòm program. We would like the LEAP Project sprint to design a series of studies to examine the effectiveness of Eksploratoryòm both as an science education program in Haitian classrooms and as a tool for professional development of teachers.

Outputs would include:

  • a research design for studying the educational impact of the Eksploratoryòm; and
  • psychometric analysis of the student and teacher assessment instruments.

How will your organization put these outputs into action? [200-500 words recommended]

Blue Butterfly has a strong partnership with the Model School Network, a network of 200 schools in the Central Plateau of Haiti. Over 50 MSN schools are already using Eksploratoryòm.  MSN is eager to work with us to build the evidence base for Eksploratoryòm. We will be able to implement the research program in MSN schools.

We are currently seeking funding to commission this research. Having a strong research design will help us use that funding wisely.

Describe your desired short-term and long-term outcomes of the 12-week LEAP Project sprint for both your organization and solution. [200-500 words recommended]

Desired short-term outcomes of the LEAP Project Sprint:

  • Our research program will result in useful results that will inform improvements in our Eksploratoryòm program.
  • We will have concrete evidence of the value of Eksploratoryòm that will help us bring new supporters to the program.


Desired long-term outcomes of the LEAP Project sprint:

  • We will be able to expand and replicate Eksploratoryòm throughout Haiti.
  • More children will benefit from Eksploratoryòm's innovative play-based approach to science education.

Solution Team

  • CC CC
    Charlotte Cole Co Executive Director, Blue Butterfly Collaborative
  • Suzanne Cole Co-Executive Director, Operations, Blue Butterfly/Third Sector New England
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