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RFP Title: Monitoring & Program Management Platform
Innovator: Lively Minds
Support Category: Technology/Strategic Advisory
Q&A Responses: https://tinyurl.com/yc3atnh2
Date of Issuance: July 15, 2020
Closing Date for Questions: July 22, 2020 at 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time
Response to Questions: July 29, 2020 at 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time
Closing Date for Submission: August 5, 2020 at 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time

Monitoring & Program Management Platform Development for Lively Minds

Background and Context
Many social enterprises and entrepreneurs face common challenges in their efforts to grow and scale their businesses and their impact. Access to capital, though a widespread challenge, is not the only barrier inhibiting growth.  To address these challenges, Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), through its Venture Assistance Program, supports grantees to address core organizational challenges in order to grow and scale their organizations, focusing on maximizing impact and long-term sustainability.

About DIV  
DIV (https://www.usaid.gov/div) is USAID’s open innovation competition that supports breakthrough solutions to the world’s most intractable development challenges—interventions that could change millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost.  DIV seeks to bring in new ideas for solving problems facing millions around the world – delivering more impact, for less money, with greater potential for sustainable scale. Inspired by the venture capital experience, DIV uses a tiered, evidence-based funding model to test ideas, gather evidence of what works, find failures quickly and cheaply, without long-term commitments, and continue to support only proven solutions.

DIV is relentlessly focused on three evaluation criteria: rigorous evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, and pathway to scale through the private or public sectors. DIV accepts proposals, across three stages, year-round from any type of organization, in any sector and country in which USAID operates:

Stage 1:            Proof of Concept / Initial Testing (up to $200,000)
Stage 2:            Testing and Positioning for Scale (up to $1,500,000)
Stage 3:            Transitioning Proven Solutions to Scale (up to $5,000,000)
Evidence:          Support for research and evaluations that generate rigorous evidence of an innovation’s impact per dollar and potential for expansion (up to $1,500,000)

Grantee Overview:
Nearly 250 million children under five in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of not achieving their developmental potential. Early childhood development programs are uncommon in most developing countries, especially in rural areas, and those that do exist often lack in quality. Studies suggest that certain interventions can significantly improve children’s cognitive and emotional development. With over $1 million in support from DIV, Lively Minds is scaling its low-cost, locally-driven approach to early childhood development in Uganda to improve learning outcomes for 39,000 children and over 9,000 mothers.

Lively Minds works through government systems to equip local government officials and village health team members to train and empower mothers in the community to run educational playgroups for children ages three to six. The model enables children to attend these groups for free, provides training and parenting workshops for mothers, and builds local government capacity to oversee the playgroups. Preliminary results from a randomized controlled trial evaluating Lively Minds’ work in Ghana show improved cognition, school readiness, and socio-emotional development for children, and improved self-esteem and mental health of mothers. Building on its success in Ghana and pilot in Uganda, DIV’s support will allow Lively Minds to further refine its model and deepen its understanding of the potential for government uptake of the program in Uganda, Ghana, and future expansion countries. The priority is to transition the program for scale, expanding in the number of communities reached, and to build government capacity/ownership of the program.

Organizational Challenge
Monitoring and supervisory visits by local government officials as well as quality assurance visits by Lively Minds staff generate significant data. This data is accessible both to Lively Minds as well as government partners. Lively Minds has identified several challenges related to their current monitoring system: data collection, data visualization, and program monitoring scheduling.

  1. The volume of data and large number of users makes it difficult to visualize the data in a way that leads to meaningful analysis and actionable insights. Data is currently maintained on an online, open-source dashboard. While the current system has been sufficient to support Lively Minds’ overall program management to date, there are enhancements that would benefit future growth. Lively Minds has also added new radio programming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its operational technology platform needs to be designed to accommodate new program types and related data collection and visualization needs for future expansion.

Currently, Lively Minds’ uses Kobo Collect with the backend data hosted by Hiroku and source code available on GitHub. Front end was developed using Netlify. Lively Minds must have the ability to increase the number of users as the organization scales in the years ahead. The number of users as of 2020 are:

Current Users Uganda Ghana
Lively Minds Staff 10 20
Government Partners 100 150

 

  1. LivelyMinds and its government partners are not always able to effectively schedule program monitoring visits. These visits are carried out by government partner staff, and changes in schedules and miscommunication can lead to one playgroup being visited multiple times each month while another never receives a visit. Currently, the visits are scheduled using spreadsheets and paper, and it is difficult for local government teams to track progress or identify challenges and respond.

 

Objective
Lively Minds is seeking a vendor to develop a comprehensive monitoring and program management technology platform that offers desktop and mobile management to monitor overall program effectiveness and provides flexibility to support future growth (i.e., expansion to new communities/countries, new program types, new user roles, total number of users, total number of playgroups, etc.).  Lively Minds monitors its program at the playgroup and local government level, not at the individual participant level; therefore, tracking individual mothers and children as unique individuals or cases is not a requirement. The vendor will be expected to conduct requirements gathering with Lively Minds staff, government partners, and other key stakeholders, and integrate improved business processes into the development of the new platform.

 

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