Catalyzing Impact and Empowering Early Childhood Education Leaders

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

by Tommy Jacobsen

The first big project in which I participated as a Policy Innovation Fellow was the Early Childhood Innovation Lab (ECIL). The inaugural lab was a collaboration between the National Head Start Association, the Sorenson Impact Center, and the David Eccles School of Business that aims to enable early childhood service providers to create sustainable solutions to the most pressing issues they face at work.

The ECIL is a week-long opportunity for early childhood service providers to collaborate with University of Utah professors, Sorenson Impact professionals, community leaders, and to learn from one another in a powerful, innovative atmosphere. As childhood service providers from all over the U.S. came together, I was impressed by the profound impact that these talented professionals make through their work, despite the challenges they face daily including strained budgets, limited resources, and difficulties in data measurement, among other significant issues.

The Lab gave the opportunity for participants to develop an “Impact Plan” throughout the course of the week, integrating key practices and perspectives which were shared by speakers to outline how to achieve a desired social impact in their respective organizations. It was inspiring to see the dedication of the participants as they worked to hone their Impact Plans. The passion with which participants presented their plans and ideas at the close of the Lab illustrated their commitment to do good through their work.

My involvement in the Lab as a student fellow gave me a clearer understanding of what it means to “catalyze impact,” which is one of Sorenson Impact’s primary goals. A catalyst, by definition is “an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.” The word “catalyst” is also commonly used to describe substances that accelerate or enable a chemical reaction. The ECIL was a powerful catalyst for accelerating impact in the early childhood sphere, thanks to the collaborative contributions of professionals of many different backgrounds.

Any individual or organization can serve as an impact catalyst by contributing their talents and resources to a cause. Social impact goals become more attainable when like-minded people with common goals work together. I am grateful for the hands-on learning experiences I have gained through my Sorenson Impact fellowship, all while acting as an impact catalyst myself. 

Gabe Morenostudent, impact fellow