Three Insights and Innovations from the EiE Alliance

40 innovators spent six months accelerating education solutions for emergency situations. Here's what happened.

In 2017, the Education in Emergencies Challenge saw hundreds of people from around the world come together to answer the question:

How might we improve educational outcomes for children and youth—particularly girls—in emergency situations?

Following the close of the Challenge, the Australian Government (DFAT) and OpenIDEO felt the energy of this community and the world’s need for the work of the innovators involved. The two teams worked closely with the Challenge community to co-design the Education in Emergencies (EiE) Alliance: a six-month open innovation network intended to support innovators, leverage resources and collaboration tools, and fuel ongoing innovation in this field.

The Alliance brought together diverse stakeholders in the EiE space, supporting 40 promising innovators from the EiE Challenge Shortlist, funders, and industry expert advisors. In the Alliance, these advisors offered hundreds of hours of support by hosting 60+ Mentor Sessions, providing feedback and tools for teams to advance their solutions. Throughout, innovators connected and shared about their challenges, swapped ideas and inspiration, and learned from each other using the online platform. 

Innovator teams connected with Advisors around the world—pictured here on a video call—to apply human-centered design and progress toward their goals for impact together.

Three Insights from the Alliance

Over the course of the Alliance, we gained a few key insights we're glad to share with you.

1) Source inspiration from different global contexts and teams to fuel innovation. By sharing vulnerably and openly about her work with others, not only did Fakhira from Power99 find new ways to improve her programs and storytelling, but she inspired multiple innovator teams as they successfully scaled their work to over 100,000 beneficiaries in the hardest-to-reach parts of Pakistan. Her approach: being traditional enough to integrate across larger partners, but innovative enough to be inspirational and impactful to the children she serves.

"Before working with EiE I wasn't thinking out of the box. I was only thinking about focusing on my local community and my organization. But working with the EiE community has shown me the value in seeing what other people around the world are doing. This community inspired me and I learned a lot." 
          — Fakhira Najib, Power99

2) Leverage resources to increase a small team's capacity. InnoKido, as a smaller team, was looking to figure out a sustainable financial model and ways to scale impact creatively and resourcefully. They sourced a range of diverse perspectives from mentors and peers. Through collaborating with other Alliance members, not only did they redesign their business model, but they also created a video from scratch in the same time frame as larger teams.

“Over the last month, I’ve spent more time with people from the Alliance working on my project than with my own team. It’s been very inspiring and helped push us forward!”  
          — zeynep aykul, InnoKido

3) Sharing needs and best practices yields exponential growth.  We saw many innovators swapping skills to support each other, including key lessons learned through their work. This shared capacity and knowlege helped others save the time and energy of finding answers alone. Buddha Burman from BoomBuzz discussed best practices with other teams around connectivity and tech solutions in hard-to-reach communities, giving essential insights to other innovators interested in developing in this space.

A mentor from Google’s Jigsaw team shared with the Alliance:

“Leverage existing systems. Every system you don’t have to recreate gives you exponentially more time back.”
          — Marc HowarD, GOOGLE

Three Grant-Winning Innovations

During the Alliance, idea teams worked on crafting their storytelling skills by creating two-minute pitch videos about their work. As the Alliance comes to a close, we are delighted to award funding to three teams whose progress and videos stood out. Check out the winning pitches below:


InnoKido is a traveling STEAM education program/classroom that builds 21st century digital skills to/for/of the refugee and disadvantaged children in Turkey.


Playground Ideas supports anyone, anywhere to build a stimulating space for play using only local materials, tools, and skills. They plan to implement interactive play spaces in the Rohingya Refugee camp, Bangladesh.


Light of Hope has a solar-powered, portable, multimedia solution allowing teachers to turn any space into an interactive learning environment. They are implementing in the Rohingya Refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Congratulations to these winning teams, and thank you to all who engaged in the process. You can watch all videos and get familiar with the diverse group of innovators delivering impact for education in emergencies here.

Learn More

Interested in being involved in future initiatives that apply human-centered design to education in emergency settings? Fill out this quick form to express interest.