What has been the impact of your solution to date?
We originally developed our programs as Peace Corps volunteers in Jordan. During our two years of service, over 600 students participated in Brain Camp programs in under-resourced villages all over Jordan. After completing Peace Corps service in August 2011, we began working full-time to build Think Unlimited, which we incorporated in October 2011. Since then, we have trained 24 teachers and 8 administrators who are implementing the Brain Builders after school program with approximately 150 students this semester.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
With our local partner, and over the next 2 years, we plan to train 250 public school teachers to implement the Brain Builders after school program. If each teacher implements for a minimum of two semesters, over 3,000 students will be reached. But training local teachers makes the program sustainable and unlimitedly replicable.
We currently have funds to offer our Minds in the Making parenting class to 200 parents this year. If our model proves viable, and if we are able to train additional trainers, we should be able to reach at least 500 parents per year over the next two years, impacting roughly 1200 parents and thereby 4,500 children.
We are currently training a new class of 30 Peace Corps volunteers to implement Brain Camps, which we believe will impact 600 students per year
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Our biggest obstacle so far has been limited manpower. We have been amazed at how much work is involved in keeping administrative fires burning, raising funds, and making sure we’re making careful, considered decisions about management and strategy—all while trying to implement and evaluate our programs! We worry about finding the right people to bring on, given the limited exposure most Jordanians have to the type of work we are doing. We also need team members who share our commitment to quality, in-depth programming and real results. We have begun to nurture program graduates to become capable staff members, giving them a chance to put their skills into action. If successful, this will not only solve our recruiting challenge, but would add another layer of impact to our work.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Train 30 Peace Corps VTs to run Brain Camp, 24 teachers to run Brain Builders, and offer Minds in the Making to 200 parents
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Hire local staff to oversee each of our three programs, and double the number of students, teachers, and parents reached
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
If we had to identify the single factor that has enabled us to thrive, it would be education. Hoping to offer others what education gave to us, we joined Peace Corps Jordan. As educators in villages we immediately saw how a lack of critical thinking skills and empowerment was limiting our students’ potential. Though we developed Brain Camp as an academic enrichment program, we quickly began seeing its impact beyond the classroom. When a 16-year old girl in our village used the skills she learned at camp to design, initiate, and lead a club for other girls, we knew that building minds could promote empathy and create lasting change, and that our work in the Arab world was just beginning. After Peace Corps we founded Think Unlimited to continue empowering youth be change makers. Our passion for building minds in this part of the world has only grown as we have watched the Arab Spring unfold. In the Middle East, education will almost certainly be the pivot point on which the future turns.