Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

A previous blogger, Diama Norris, first wrote about the 20K House Project on our blog back in 2009. The idea behind the project is the creation of affordable housing which serves as an alternative to mobile homes and expands homeownership among low-income individuals. The idea is as appealing now as it was when Diama first discussed it over 5 years ago.house keys

Rural Studio is the program behind the 20K House project. They are an undergraduate program of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at Auburn University. Rural Studio is celebrating its 20th anniversary and has much to show for it. Over the past two decades they have provided practical experiences for students who design and build projects benefiting underserved populations in rural Alabama.

The 20K House Project itself began in 2005, and has produced 12 versions of the 20K house. Each version was given away to residents in need who reside in and around Hale County. Now efforts are underway to take what Rural Studies has learned through this hands-on research project and create a marketable product. This will (more…)


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I often reference Zero to Three in my posts on early childhood education.  They are a wonderful resource for parents and professionals interested the health and development of infants and toddlers. zero to threeZero to Three is also one of the main sponsors behind an early learning movement called Rally4Babies, which kicked off last July with a virtual rally that can still be viewed on their website.

In January, CAP was proud to recognize Kari Alley-Melchior, a lead teacher at Sand Springs Early Childhood Center, for co-authoring an article for Zero to Three’s bi-monthly journal. The article, titled “Common Themes Impacting Quality of Early Care and Education Environments for Toddlers,” explored six themes aimed enhancing the quality of education in toddler classrooms:

(1) Developing language throughout the day;

(2) Implementing alternatives to whole-group time;

(3) Following through with behavior guidance;

(4) Scaffolding all areas of development;

(5) Using encouragement in multiple and appropriate ways; and

(6) Integrating various types of data.

The journal itself requires a subscription, but their digital only option provides substantial savings over the print edition. Zero to Three is currently offering a free look at the digital version of (more…)

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I first heard about Giving Tuesday last year. It was the Monday after Thanksgiving and I was listening to NPR on my way to work. The next day I was posting about it on this blog, and talking to my friends about it on social media. Last year, I was a little late to the party. So this year I want to help build awareness early.

2013 giving tuesdayGiving Tuesday is a movement to create a National Day of Giving to kick off the holiday season. It happens the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, so after shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the giving starts December 3rd this year.

The movement was started by the 92nd Street Y (92Y), a nonprofit community and cultural center in New York City. It has grown to include thousands of partners including the United Nations Foundation.

The idea behind Giving Tuesday is to encourage people to (more…)

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This guest post was written by Monica Barczak, Director of the Innovation Lab. 

Here’s a question we don’t get to ask ourselves all that often in the not-for-profit world: “What if anything were possible?” Frankly, it probably isn’t asked very often in the for-profit world, either. But it’s a terrifically powerful question underlying a problem-solving approach called Design Thinking. And it’s one of many notes I’ve jotted down since I began the “Design Thinking for Business Innovation” class on Coursera.

Design thinking 2As an innovative agency, CAP Tulsa is continually interested in producing better outcomes for the families we serve. We’ve gone about this in various ways: we research best practices; we work with academic experts; we survey the families and create focus groups.

Last year we worked with a leading design agency called IDEO.org, which was our first, unwitting step into the world of design thinking.  It was an eye-opening experience – fast-paced and, to tell the truth, uncomfortable. Now that I have the opportunity to learn about the steps involved in design thinking, however, I am excited about the possibilities of using it to tackle some of the complex problems we’re working on.

Here are some of the takeaways that have stood out so far: (more…)

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I’m often inspired by the innovative ideas being developed to help low-income families meet both present and future needs.  One example I recently shared highlighted community gardens that provide fresh food to low-income neighborhoods in Tulsa.  Today, I’m drawing inspiration from the economic seeds being planted through San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College (K2C) program.

Launched in 2011 by the City and County of San Francisco, K2C is the first publicly funded, universal children’s savings account program in the country.  Operated through the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), the program ensures every kindergarten student in the San Francisco Unified School District is automatically enrolled in a College Savings Account.  Accounts are seeded with $50 provided by the city-county government, with students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program receiving an additional $50.

Accounts are desigmoney ladderned to make contributing as easy as possible by allowing relatives and extended family to deposit money by mail, online, or in person.  There is no minimum deposit amount required, so families can give what they can afford, when they can afford it.  Partnerships with local foundations, organizations and businesses also provide matching funds for promotions that encourage families to save regularly and speed the growth of account balances.

The program is still relatively new but the results so far are encouraging.  As of 2012, over (more…)

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For the first time in years, I skipped Black Friday.  I’m usually out there with the best of them, looking for discounts and enjoying the chaos.  So no disrespect to brave souls who faced the crowds this year, but I couldn’t bring myself to tackle the early morning mayhem.  There were some perks to sitting it out.  It not only felt good to sleep in, but it gave me time to examine what I really wanted to do with my money and time this holiday season.  That isn’t to say I stayed home all day.  I was out that afternoon, visiting friends and tending to the necessities of life, like getting a tire fixed.  So giving up on Black Friday was not an attempt to fend off the approach of carols and decorations, so much as it was an effort to reprioritize things. I want to take part in the Season, but on different terms this time.

Then on the way to work yesterday, on the sleepy Monday morning following a four day weekend, I heard a story that renewed my interest in post-Thanksgiving traditions.  NPR was reporting on the first ever Giving Tuesday.  More than 1,400 groups are launching an event to kick-off the holiday giving season, and it starts today. While I am usually skeptical of “new” traditions, I hope this one catches on.  Corporate marketing has given us Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and even Cyber Monday, each an attempt to boost participation and bring in revenue.  However, the shopping casts a shadow on other priorities, so reinventing how we promote and practice the holiday tradition of charity is probably long overdue. (more…)

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