PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details
A) At Find & Seek, we facilitate young children's exploration of a wide range of open-ended arts materials, and collaborate with children on stories, installations and performances. B) Free programs at the Red Hook branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Ticketed programs at our studio in Brooklyn. C) Free: 1 hour/week. Fee-based: 3 hours/week, until we secure funding to do this full time. D) Founder-directors Kristin Eno and Elisha Georgiou, both M.Ed, Columbia Teachers College (Art Education).
INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.
The Maker Movement, dissemination of Adventure Playgrounds (building of Imagination Playground and Anarchy Zone in the US), international coalitions advocating for more play in childhood, the opening of a range of alternative schools, from Brightworks to Blue School, and the digital renaissance all indicate that the world is ready to re-imagine learning. The NYC Coalition for Play (Alliance for Childhood and David Rockwell), In Defense of Childhood (Deborah Meier), and the Ultimate Block Party in Central Park were signposts of play advocacy. Reggio Emilia is more popular in schools. Maker Faire grows. The Common Core receives harsh critique.
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?
Learning through play is the only way that children truly come to understand the world. By facilitating deeper, more expansive play in our students, we have at our fingertips a range of great tools that will shepherd those beautiful children into this wild world. We have learned how to teach "the wrong way," but we know better. Our wealth of wisdom from Reggio Emilia, Froebel, Dewey, Vygotsky (and the Tools of the Mind curriculum, in itself a great tool), Vivian Paley, the scholars at Bank Street: these voices all remind us to enable children to play more, and play deeper.
SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.
Find & Seek is in talks with the Brooklyn Public Library: we are seeking a contract to offer our programs to library-goers. Last year our free library programs were funded by our own volunteer hours, then a Brooklyn Arts Council grant. We are beginning to offer private/ticketed classes as well.
MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?
Early childhood best practice--play-based learning--has historically been relegated to the private sector. As the private sector's resources multiply, play is trendy and marketable, and we can easily sell ticketed classes to those who can pay. With our hybrid business model, our revenue helps us increase our presence in public schools, libraries and community centers. We thus level the playing field, reaching children who usually don’t get exposed to play-based learning.
FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?
1. 40 hrs to Alex House Project for young mothers/children (5K) 2. Hire 4 Red Hook community members 40 hrs each to attract Red Hook families to our programs (5K) 3. Throw party/raise $100K (2.5K) 4. 20 hrs at local school (2.5K) 5. Red Hook teen intern (2.5K) 6. Supplies (ink, legal fees, plastic bins) (2.5K).
PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.
We are currently developing our partnership with the Alex House Project, working on a proposal for funding that would pay us to provide educational workshops to the children of the young mothers enrolled in that support and mentoring program. Kristin Eno sits on the planning committee of Brooklyn New School's Infant Toddler Center, and is helping that innovative school make its dream a reality.
COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.
Last year we hosted a Cardboard Challenge (Imagination Foundation) event at BEAM Center in Brooklyn. 20+ families created a box village/wonderland. We want to learn from PlayBuild about transforming vacant lots into play spaces, and to learn from the Institute of Play, what digital possibilities connect with Find & Seek.
VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?
We will have developed NYC's only warehouse where recycled and natural objects are arranged in a visually stunning way, and used specifically for early childhood exploration. This will expand upon Materials for the Arts in Queens (a city-funded program where early childhood programs cannot shop) and Beginnings Nursery (has a beautiful catalogue of materials for young children’s use). We will partner with publicly funded programs so NYC’s most vulnerable children have access.
IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time
- Early literacy is developed and strengthened through play, interactive storytelling, and deepened parent/child relationships.
- Social and emotional growth is fostered through meaningful play with adult caregivers.
- Enriched physical environments (created through space transformation) increases children's capacity to learn and grow.
(To be gathered when our program is funded for the next round, anticipated start date Oct 2, will do research over 6-week cycle of our program at the Red Hook Library)
APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.
Play with Objects, Symbolic Play, Pretence/ Socio-Dramatic Play, Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Providing a Range of Opportunities (providing the equipment and materials needed for various types of play), Adults Participating (Ensuring adults are able to play alongside children), Other (please specify).
Other (please specify)
Play in and with nature/natural objects. Play that drives and develops story, storytelling, early literacy.
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.