It’s no secret that providing our children a diverse set of experiences in the early years is critical in preparing them for the future. Parents and educational providers alike are leading this work every day by investing their time and money to enroll, transport, and, most importantly, encourage our children. These experiences can foster the positive emotional, physical, and social development that are key to achieving a brighter future. (1)
But in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods, there are approximately twenty million children who simply don’t have the resources to access these opportunities. (2)
And that’s a big problem.
While there have been massive efforts to build solutions, we’re still not seeing the change we need.
Often, our underserved youth are painted with a broad brush, with programs offering one-size-fits-all solutions for a problem as complex and misunderstood as any we’ve faced before. These efforts often also start far too late in a child’s life, when the necessary skills to engage in learning are much harder to teach. (3)
But what if we rethought the role of education in the world today? What if we harnessed the technology that has transformed the way we travel, shop, and connect, and leveraged it for our children’s future?
What if we looked at the whole picture, the whole child, and treated each individual as unique as we see ourselves?
What if we started earlier, when a child starts to show us who they might become?
What would the world look like if we could provide every child – regardless of where they live, how they’ve been raised, or the income level of their family – the access to discover their passion for learning?
Sawyer and our partners are in the unique position to do just that.
Sawyer for All, an early-stage impact initiative, leverages our existing technology by taking the excess inventory of participating activity providers and matching it with children who otherwise wouldn’t have access to these experiences. With a real-time understanding of the liquidity in this market, we can begin to build a more equitable future for the next generation.
Our growing network of educators have an extraordinary opportunity to be change agents in their own communities – to inspire those who need inspiration the most.
In collaboration with our research partners and local community organizations, we’re building a thoughtful, strategic approach to providing impactful early educational opportunities – for all.
We’ve started with three collaborative partners: Brooklyn Game Lab, Naturally Curious Nature Walks, and Treasure Trunk Theatre. Together, we launched a pilot program in August, working with PS24, a dual language school in Sunset Park, to identify participants. In our initial test run, three students were selected based on need and given three weeks of camp – for free.
The results were both exciting and humbling. We learned that language, transportation, and access to technology are some of the biggest barriers to overcome – and made it clear there is still so much more work to do.
Our immediate goal is to expand this program in Brooklyn throughout the next year, and to use what we learn here to continue building Sawyer for All in all five boroughs, and eventually, every major city in which we operate.
To achieve our mission of giving every child the opportunity to discover their own love of learning, we need to grow Sawyer for All.
Every provider who uses our software and every parent who books with us online is participating in this mission – and in order to pursue the impact we know is possible, it’s critical for us to continue to grow in every community across the country.
This is a small start, and the task ahead of our community is massive.
But we know change doesn't happen overnight.
Change starts small. It starts in the neighborhood. It starts in our parks, in our art studios, and in our classrooms.
It starts with our educators, those who shape our future by sharing their passions with our children.
Change needs to start somewhere, and we believe it can start with us – together.
– Marissa Evans Alden, CEO & Co-Founder
(1,2) American After School Alliance, 3PM National Report pg. 28, 8