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HIPPY Curriculum Selected To Help Student Entrepreneurs Improve Early Childhood Education For Poor Children In Sub-Saharan Africa

Team AtholloRead Update!

The Florida Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Center, housed within the Department of Child & Family Studies at USF, has developed a unique collaboration with Team Tembo, a student team that is part of  the entrepreneurial center at the University of Tampa. 

CFS’s HIPPY team, headed by Florida HIPPY State Director Dr. Mary Lindsey, has played a mentoring and consulting role to Team Tembo, who recently won 1st place at the San Francisco regionals as part of the the Hult Prize, one of the world’s largest student competitions.

HIPPY programs serve families from diverse ethnic and geographic groups across the world, particularly those most at risk because of poverty, parents' limited education and social isolation. HIPPY strengthens communities and families by empowering parents to actively prepare their children for success in school through a carefully developed curriculum, books and materials designed to strengthen children's cognitive skills, early literacy skills, social/emotional and physical development.  HIPPY is an evidenced based program that is used across the United States and internationally in Australia and Canada. However, with this new partnership, HIPPY’s impact promises to be even more compelling, reaching children in Africa who may need it the most. 

"Team Tembo," headed by Phil Michaels, the founder of the team, has adopted the HIPPY curriculum as part of its plan to select and provide an already successful and effective curriculum to kids ages birth to 6 in Sub-Saharan Africa countries of Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and Liberia through the use of mobile phones. They will adapt the HIPPY curriculum into a mobile phone application available over the fastest growing mobile phone market in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Hult Prize competition aims to identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people. This year's challenge is to educate 10 million children, ages 0-6, living in developing countries by 2020. The winning team will receive a grand prize of  $1 million to implement its project. Team Tembo was among 20,000 teams and over 60,000 students who competed for this prize from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Stanford, and are now the only remaining team from the United States. Their win advances them to the final round to compete against the remaining five other international teams.

The journey to get here has not been easy! Team Tembo has spent hours with HIPPY representatives and home visitors, reviewing the curriculum and participating in home visits with children enrolled in the Tampa HIPPY program.

“It has been an inspiring collaborative effort with: Dr. Mario Hernandez, Chair of the Department of Child & Family Studies; Dr. Miriam Westheimer, Director of HIPPY International; Ruby Joseph, HIPPY Researcher; Eric Biel, Business Specialist; the Florida HIPPY Staff and HIPPY Home Visitors, all supporting Athollo’s team of talented students as they compete for the one million dollar Hult Prize, said Dr. Mary Lindsey, Florida HIPPY State Director. “This partnership combines the experience of mature HIPPY minds with the vision and energy of this amazing group of young students. It is really exciting to see that the only remaining team from the United States might have the opportunity to profoundly impact the lives of young African children using a technologically adapted HIPPY Curriculum.”

Not only has the team adopted HIPPY, but HIPPY has adopted the team.

“I call them my Tampa kids,” said Dr. Westheimer. She visited with the students in Tampa and participated in a curriculum adaptation planning meeting, as well as home visits.

“The work they did up until our meeting was incredible,” added Dr Westheimer, "and the work was solidified the day we spent together going out and conducting real home visits. Their model is being presented at a HIPPY National Director’s meeting in a few weeks and I am asking all international chapters to support their efforts."

This unique partnership between USF HIPPY and Team Tembo demonstrates CFS’s dedication to community engagement and has the potential of connecting HIPPY internationally with five African countries.  It also aligns closely with USF’s strategic goals and priorities. If funded, this project – through research and innovation of the technologically-adapted HIPPY curriculum – could help change the lives of African children for the better, and foster positive societal change. By creating new partnerships, it could also help build a strong and sustainable future for HIPPY in the global economy, and through its commitment to student success and the education of young, African children from birth to age six, could contribute to producing well-educated global citizens.

What’s Next?

Team Tembo will be implementing a pilot study, participating in a 6-week accelerator program in Boston, and making a final pitch to to a panel of expert reviewers and President Bill Clinton in New York City this September, to compete for the $1 million grand prize.

To achieve their goal of  winning the grand prize, Team Tembo must raise $53,000 to conduct their first pilot study in Nigeria from June 2 to June 27, so it is fully operational before they make their pitch in New York in September. 

Pictured above l to r: University of Tampa Professor, Dr. Moore; Team Athollo students Ulixes Hawili, Brittany Brescia and Phil Michaels; Florida HIPPY State Director, Dr. Mary Lindsey; and Business Specialist, Eric Biel.

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