Leaders and Most Promising Ventures in Early Childhood Development Convene at First-of-Its-Kind Early Futures Event

Omidyar Network, Sesame Workshop, and newly launched Promise Venture Studio host Early Futures event featuring more than 50 early childhood ventures

SAN JOSE, CA (November 27, 2018) – Today, Omidyar Network, Sesame Workshop, and Promise Venture Studio will kick off Early Futures – a two-day event featuring more than 200 experts, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, and policymakers across early childhood development. By shining a light on many of the field’s promising entrepreneurial talent and innovation, this community will collaborate to advance solutions, ideas, and organizations with potential for the most sustainable and positive social impact for our youngest children and families.

Numerous studies have shown that the prenatal to age five years set a crucial foundation for children’s ability to reach their full potential and fulfill their innate promise. Yet more than 50 percent of children from lower-income backgrounds enter kindergarten not ready, and more than 30 percent enter kindergarten with cognitive, social, and emotional gaps that cannot be closed by the K-12 system alone. It is with this urgency for solutions that innovators are gathering at Early Futures.

Following a rigorous application and review process, more than 50 ventures were selected to demo their solutions and share the stage with featured speakers, including:

  • Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, pediatrician and CEO, Center for Youth Wellness – ACEs and Resilience: Rewriting the Story of Toxic Stress for Future Generations
  • Scott Cook, founder and chairman of executive committee, Intuit – Entrepreneur Insights: Learning from Success & Failure
  • Sal Khan, founder and CEO, Khan Academy – Bringing a Free, World-Class Education to Early Childhood
  • Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., director,Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University – A Game-Changing Formula for Impact at Scale
  • Yasmina Vinci, executive director, National Head Start Association – Innovation in Head Start: Past, Present and Future

“Building on decades of research and science and increasing mainstream awareness toward the importance of the early years, we are at a unique moment to foster, invest in, and scale impactful early childhood solutions,” said Isabelle Hau, US education lead, Omidyar Network. “Early Futures is an inaugural convening seeking to move the early childhood field from scarcity to possibility, featuring new innovations and cross-sector collaboration.”

“Sesame Street was created as a bold idea to learn if media could be used to teach and generations of kids around the world have benefitted from success of that initial experiment,” said Michael Levine, chief knowledge officer, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. “We hope that Early Futures will be a great platform to identify and catalyze new ideas and new leaders to become aligned with Sesame’s enduring mission: to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.”

“We created Promise Venture Studio because we believe entrepreneurs can be a catalyst for the impact and innovation in early childhood development crucial to closing achievement gaps. We have been inspired by the quality and diversity of entrepreneurs committing their talent, time, resources, and brainpower to the field,” said Matt Glickman, founder and president of Promise Venture Studio and co-founder of BabyCenter. “But, entrepreneurship does not happen in a vacuum. That is why a gathering like Early Futures is critical — to bring together the voices, perspectives, and expertise from across the field that need to connect in order to bring about sustainable positive impact for all our youngest children and families.”

At the event, participants will hear from ventures including:

  • Prapela – an organization that focuses on infant health and introduced a gentle, random vibration called stochastic vibrotactile stimulation (SVS) into consumer and medical products to help infants breathe and relax. Prapela has won global competitions including the FDA with Children’s National Medical Center.
  • Tinkergarten – an organization that takes education technology outdoors, supporting a play-based, early learning movement. It has already served 150,000 children through their classes and is helping thousands of children in every US state become better prepared for kindergarten.
  • Wildflower Schools – an ecosystem of 21 teacher-led Montessori microschools across five states and Puerto Rico that gives children space to follow their interests and learn from one another.
  • Wonderschool – a company that built an online marketplace enabling educators to start, operate, and grow successful early education programs in their homes in a sustainable way while reducing administrative burden. It is now helping run 140 schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York City, and recently secured a $20 million series A funding.

Omidyar Network, Promise Venture Studio, and Sesame Workshop will host the two-day Early Futures event at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose. You can follow along by using the hashtag #EarlyFutures on Twitter and learn more about the event here.


Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm that invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization has committed more than $1.3 billion to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations across multiple initiatives, including: Digital Identity, Education, Emerging Tech, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. To learn more, visit, and follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork #PositiveReturns.

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit

Promise is a non-profit venture studio that attracts, supports and connects entrepreneurs focused on early childhood development. We exist to establish a thriving community of early childhood entrepreneurs, funders, researchers, experts, and policymakers — that will spawn the growth of successful ventures with significant social impact. Every day, we support entrepreneurs to advance their early childhood ventures and increase their ability to reach the children (prenatal to age 5), families, and communities facing the greatest adversities. To learn more, visit