South Side Early Learning Named To Sea Change Cohort: Big Data For Little Learners

Columbus, OH - What if you could use “big data” to help the “littlest” residents of Columbus end the cycle of poverty?

Image:  SEA Change

Image: SEA Change

South Side Early Learning (SSEL) is working to answer that very question. Combining what SSEL has learned from nearly 100 years of early education along with our entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to innovation, we are launching what we playfully refer to as Project NUDL: a set of initiatives aimed at changing the way we Nurture, Understand, Discover and Learn throughout the first 2,000 days of a child’s life.

Now SSEL is partnering with SEA Change to turn one component of Project NUDL into a standalone initiative – “big data for little learners.”  SEA Change (Social Enterprise Accelerator) is a collaborative initiative that transforms big ideas into social enterprises that improve communities in Ohio. Through “coaching, connections and capital, SEA Change enterprises are equipped with the tools and networks they need to generate social and economic impact through scalable and sustainable business models.” Project NUDL is also supported by a Google grant awarded to SSEL. As a Data Solutions for Change partner, Google Cloud is providing South Side Early Learning with the tools to create an early warning system for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years that will alert us to who is falling behind on the key indicators of kindergarten readiness. SSEL has troves of data sets that allow it to report back to grantors such as Head Start and United Way, but currently the data come from disparate systems and don’t “talk” to each other.

SSEL intends to build a tool to make the data talk, but also help teachers see when a student is not making sufficient academic and developmental progress using data already collected on academic outcomes, attendance, family services provided and other measures. Then, teachers and SSEL partners can redirect services, lessons and care for the child to put him or her back on track to reaching developmental milestones.

The first 2,000 days of life are the most critical for lifetime success. Child development is a dynamic, interactive process that is not predetermined. It occurs in the context of relationships, experiences and environments. That’s because, as Harvard University pediatrician Jack Shonkoff says, “brains are built not born.”

Yet often, when we focus on the "why" of economic mobility, conversations tend to focus on access to a college, or even high school, education. However, for poor children, the gap between themselves and their more affluent peers begins in the youngest years. Poor children start school at a disadvantage. Their health, behaviors, and skills make them less prepared for kindergarten than children growing up under better economic conditions.

By not providing a strong academic and social start to children through our programs, we are perpetuating systemic poverty in Columbus' South Side. We know that children enrolled at SSEL for at least 90 days are at or exceed developmental proficiency in six developmental domains and graduate kindergarten ready. When we invest in early childhood programs, it's not just enrolled children and their families who benefit; investments we make in children today benefit our society and economy for years to come.

SSEL’s early warning system will help us create child-centered, early intervention before we waste those precious 2,000 days. Profits from the business model developed through Project NUDL will be used to support SSEL’s core programming.

If you would like to know more about South Side Early Learning’s involvement with SEA Change, please contact project coordinator Kory Weaver via email:

About South Side Early Learning:

Mission: To ensure every young child benefits from a holistic, high-quality early education.

Vision: We are passionately committed to lead the partnerships, best practices and performance that maximize a child's first 2,000 days.