History & Acknowlegements


The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (HCDC) launched the Frontiers of Innovation (FOI) initiative in 2011 to accelerate the development and adoption of science-based innovations that achieve breakthrough impact at scale. As part of FOI, the Washington Innovation Cluster was established to bring together a diverse set of collaborators, including community leaders, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers, to develop, implement, test, and refine promising new strategies to support young children and their families. A common set of challenges emerged through the early phases of that work, and the IDEAS Impact Framework was developed in 2015 in response to those challenges.

Since 2015, HCDC and our partners have offered a variety of capacity-building experiences based on the Framework, including one-day training, two-day workshops, and ongoing coaching. In 2016, FOI and its partners in Latin America launched two additional innovation clusters: the Aceleradora de Innovación para la Primera Infancia in Mexico and the iLab Primeira Infância in Brazil. In each case, local teams were trained to utilize the Framework to support innovators in their context. IDEAS has also been employed in other initiatives, such as the Best Starts for Kids initiative in King County, Washington; the MIT Solve Early Childhood Development challenge; the Promising Ventures Fellowship; and the StrongStart Early Childhood Support Organization Initiative. Approximately 1,000 people have attended a one-day training session, over 100 teams have participated in multi-day workshops, and 85 teams have used the Framework to engage in fast-cycle iteration projects as part of FOI.

While the team at HCDC no longer offers live training, workshops, or coaching on the Framework, we hope that this open-access toolkit will make IDEAS accessible to innovators in the field of ECD going forward. Other related resources can be found in the resources section.


The IDEAS Framework was initially developed through a joint initiative between the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the University of Washington College of Education, and the University of Oregon Center for Translational Neuroscience. The development team tried to “walk our talk” by engaging in fast-cycle iteration at every opportunity, drawing on many rounds of feedback from teams, our staff, and our partners. As a result, and in keeping with the principle of co-creation, this toolkit reflects the collective effort and learning of many organizations and individuals. The toolkit’s authors are deeply grateful to everyone involved for their contributions to the Framework and their steadfast commitment to driving toward greater impact for children and families. Thanks also to our Center’s generous funders, with special thanks to the Gates Foundation, the LEGO Foundation, Porticus, and the Hemera Foundation, who invested specifically in the development of the Framework and this toolkit.