Best Starts Capacity Building: A Shared Process

Best Starts for Kids is investing in a number of capacity building efforts. This is a series to explain what we mean by capacity building and why we think it is so important. You can find our first post on our overall approach here and our second post on tailored support here. Today we share how our Innovation partners have gone through a shared process to bring their innovative ideas to life.


The Best Starts for Kids Prenatal to Five Innovation Fund is made up of an amazing cohort of thirteen awardees who’ve each formed teams to lead their innovations. There is great diversity in the types of innovative ideas each team represents (new service delivery programs, early learning products, and systems projects). Some examples of BSK Prenatal to Five Innovations Include:

  • The creation of an early learning television program,
  • A collaborative midwifery care model,
  • A cross-agency collaboration to transform agency policies and procedures, and
  • An intergenerational approach encompassing yoga, storytelling, and cultural navigation.

The common thread of the P-5 Innovation Fund is that each team is going through a shared process of designing, developing, planning and implementing their innovative ideas for the very first time.

A framework for innovation

Rather than simply investing in community designed ideas, Best Starts for Kids aims to provide supports throughout each stage of innovation. We’ve partnered with capacity builders with expertise in the IDEAS Impact FrameworkTM an innovation approach utilized by Frontiers of Innovation. The IDEAS Impact Framework guiding principles are:

  • Precision
  • Fast Cycle Iteration
  • Shared Learning
  • Co-creation

Best Starts for Kids used these principles to guide the capacity building approach for the Innovation Fund.

In the first six months of their work, innovation teams used precision to focus in on defining their innovation. They developed a theory of change, an evaluation plan, timeline, budget and other materials to help prepare them for implementation. This was an intensive process alongside a paired capacity builder. Teams started with a three-day hands-on workshop followed by regular individualized meetings and regular monthly convenings of all thirteen innovation teams.

The India Association team worked extensively with Holly as our [capacity builder] and then with Sana – both have always made it very easy for us to meet with them, are always willing to listen and learn while offering insight and suggestions that are simple, effective and tell a strong story. We are so grateful to this team and look forward to growing with them.

Lalita Uppala, India Association of Western Washington, Healthy Starts & New Beginnings Innovation
Lalita from the India Association of Western Washington and her paired capacity builder, Sana.

Continuous learning

In the spring, teams moved into implementation. They were ready to put their planning to the test with fast cycle iteration. The idea of fast cycle iteration, within the framework, really means that while rolling out their ideas for the first time, each innovation team engages in continuous learning that then informs how they do their work. Capacity builders continue to meet monthly with teams and offer supports in a variety of ways in response to what each team is learning and experiencing. Capacity building might be focused on their implementation, evaluation, co-creation and continued development of their innovation.

For the Innovation Fund, capacity building also takes the form of shared learning. Each organization and individual brings invaluable strengths and assets to be shared. Throughout, innovation teams continue to join together regularly to learn from and support one another. Capacity builders help create opportunities for teams to share their successes and learn through challenges. Facilitation encourages peer-to-peer consultation and increased collaboration amongst the groups.

The comraderies, shared learning and opportunities for collaboration are invaluable.

Tiny Trees, Decolonizing the Outdoors Innovation

We are so excited to see these programs and efforts take shape and make meaningful impact in their communities!


We still have more to share in our capacity building series! Next up, we’ll introduce more of our amazing capacity builders followed by our approach to data and capacity building.

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