Convenings bring new ideas on Urban95 and Parents+

In 2017 and 2018, we held “convenings” on our investment areas Urban95 and Parents+, bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders from the early childhood field and beyond with a view to making new connections and generating practical ideas. Among other things, this resulted in the publication in 2018 of the first draft of the Urban95 Starter Kit, a collection of promising ideas we have encountered in our Urban95 work so far.

Bus stops, playgrounds and walking tours

Participants in the Urban95 convenings came from all over the world and included architects, urban planners, experts in how cities can make better use of data to improve social policy, and experts in branding and storytelling. After the convening, we adapted our Urban95 strategy – more fully incorporating our traditional early childhood development activities focused on parenting, and more actively engaging the planning and design communities through events such as a walking tour of child-friendly public spaces in London for city officials from around the world.

The 90-page first draft of the Urban95 Starter Kit includes practical advice on implementing 29 ideas across four categories – public space, mobility, early childhood services and data-driven management. The ideas cover a broad range, from public storytelling events to protected bike lanes to data dashboards. Following feedback from a range of experts, an updated version is scheduled for publication in Summer 2019.

Designing and implementing bundled parent coaching programmes

When experts from 17 countries gathered in Amsterdam to explore and define best practices in delivering coaching to parents on child development, we reviewed together programmes that have and have not successfully scaled, and looked for common characteristics; identified good practices to overcome common challenges; explored how to brand parenting interventions; and discussed how best to use media, technology and behavioural economics to improve the cost-effectiveness of programmes.

Highlights included interview with Linda Leijdekker from the First 1000 Days team of Amsterdam’s Healthy Weight Programme, which the Bernard van Leer Foundation is supporting. Three days of discussions ended with over 70 new ideas for exploration, an emerging consensus on the kind of guidance needed to help partners design and implement bundled parent coaching programmes, and a request from participants for more consistent learning across countries.