Early Childhood Development
How can all children under five develop the critical learning and cognitive skills they need to reach their full potential?
Inadequate early childhood development exacerbates inequality and reduces economic growth. If children do not reach their optimum development—socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively—by the time they enter school, it could mean earning around one-quarter less in income as an adult. If every child in their earliest years receives the quality, affordable support and care to develop the learning and cognitive skills they need to reach their full potential, we can help level the playing field and set them—and our societies—up for a more equitable and prosperous future.
The first few years of life represent the crucial window of peak brain development where more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. Yet, millions of children under the age of five—including 250 million in low- and middle-income countries—are at risk of falling behind in their developmental growth due to extreme poverty, lack of early stimulation and learning, poor nutrition, and exposure to violence and neglect. This is particularly true of those most vulnerable to the stress experienced in humanitarian emergencies and conflict settings, which can lead to physical, mental, and behavioral issues in adulthood. Even in developed countries such as the United States, a child who enters kindergarten unprepared is 25 percent more likely to dropout of high school and 60 percent more likely not to go to college.
Children succeed when provided with quality nutrition, protective home environments, opportunities for social and physical exploration, and cognitive stimulation through positive play and responsive caregiver-to-child interactions. In fact, research shows 13 percent in societal returns when communities invest in comprehensive and high-quality early education for children under five. The time is now, and the responsibility is ours to guarantee all children in their earliest years receive the nurturing care, development, and learning they need for bright futures.
Solve is seeking technology-based solutions that improve learning and cognitive outcomes for children under the age of five that:
Reduce barriers to healthy physical, mental, and emotional development for all children, particularly among vulnerable populations and those affected by conflict;
Enable parents and caregivers to support their children’s overall development and provide positive and safe surroundings;
Promote exploration, early literacy skills, and language experimentation in preparation for primary school; and
Decrease inequalities, including stereotypes and discrimination based on gender, religion, race, or class, among children beginning at birth.
Solver Funding, Prize, and Partnership Eligibility for the Early Childhood Development Challenge
All solutions selected for Solve’s four current Global Challenges will receive a $10,000 grant funded by Solve. Solver teams will be selected by a panel of cross-sector judges at Solve Challenge Finals during UN General Assembly week in New York City on September 22, 2019.
In addition to Solve funding, Solver teams who also fulfill the criteria below are eligible for the following prizes and partnerships. You do not need to meet these requirements to apply to the Early Childhood Development Challenge:
AI Innovations Prize
Solutions that are propelled by advanced computing techniques or that leverage artificial intelligence to address the Challenge are eligible for the AI Innovations Prize. This prize is made possible by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt that bets early on people who will make our world better — helping people to achieve more for others by applying advanced science and technology thoughtfully and by working together across fields. Up to $200,000 will be granted across several recipients selected for the prize. Eligible Solver teams may be selected from any of Solve's four current Solve's four current Global Challenges.