JumpStart’s organisational resilience and innovation was recognised this week by the Nedbank Private Wealth Innovation Awards naming us one of five finalists in both categories. The awards recognise organisations that adapted to thrive in the face of difficulties, inspiring others with their response to a shock, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, the adjudicators assessed our preparedness for crises, our response to the pandemic, as well as our learnings that can benefit other organisations.
Our response to the crisis
CEO, Callen Hodgskiss, reflected on JumpStart’s approach: “Because our programmes takes place in the schools, we had to find a way to make home learning possible – especially as very few learners had any learning materials at home. Contacting them proved challenging! The first step was to reach out to peers and colleagues. NASCEE really helped with this.
“It rapidly became clear that in hard lockdown, many learners would be difficult to reach. We shifted our attention to ensuring that quality learning would happen the moment lockdown ended. The team worked on how to improve the future programme, piloting a digital maths workbook on a mobile app using the township networks to spread the word. Once the feeding schemes re-opened, we were able to get paper workbooks to our learners. Next, we set up parent and tutor Whatsapp and SMS groups to encourage and support learning at home. We also took our Robotics & Coding programme completely virtual. A key part of our success was our determination to emerge even stronger after COVID.”
Technology saved the day
Our response to COVID-19 would not have been possible without Technology. It provided new effective channels for programme delivery to beneficiaries, enabling the whole organisation to run effectively remotely with enhanced collaboration. This helped to could keep all staff and learners safe. We activated multiple channels for home learning and worked to reach as many learners as possible. It started with gathering parent contact information and making the NumberSense App available to all learners. Using the learning materials we already had, we deployed them in entirely new ways, quickly achieving proof of concept. We engaged with Teleco providers to secure zero-rating for the NumberSense App in anticipation of a wider rollout in 2021.
By deploying technology solutions, we could track and get a feedback loop on everything we trialled. We made it our business to ensure that our people were kept safe and healthy throughout. Online platforms like Coursera and Udemy were effective ways to increase our staff and tutors’ potential and inspire personal growth.
What we learned through the pandemic
Resilience isn’t only about money in the bank; it is built up over time. It hinges on robust systems, internal culture, solid relationships with funders, diversification and investing in fundraising, even when things are looking great.
We know more than ever before that to achieve impact we must work together. The crisis brought us closer to organisations in our sector, with whom we aim to secure whole value chain approach.
Onward with better seam work and team work!
JumpStart is paying attention to the inner seams of our programme. We aim to better stitch together our ambitions, intentions and successes. By continually improving and building capacity and training our staff, by consolidating our IT development and expanding our network, we aim to clinch the prize next time around! We aim to learn from the winners too. Book Dash promotes literacy and book ownership in children under five years of age and Feenix Foundation, whose crowd-funded #CapTheGap campaign is transforming student debt in South Africa. Congratulations to the other finalists!
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