For the second interview in our series, our Co-Founder of our US agency, Puff Story, chatted to Fernando González, Digital Director at Make Way for Books to get his thoughts on the opportunity that technology could have within the non-profit sector and the potential impact.
At 3 Sided Cube, the reason we get up in the morning is because we believe that technology can have real positive impact and change millions of lives for the better, so it was fantastic to hear from Fernando and understand more about Make Way for Books as well as how the organisation uses technology.
What is the biggest challenge your sector is facing right now?
FG: To be honest, it is hard to narrow it down to one! However, lack of access to early education is definitely a big challenge. In our community, 4 out of 5 young children don’t have access to high quality early education before kindergarten, which is mainly due to cost. In the USA, it costs around $9,000 a year to send a child to preschool, so for many people this is completely inaccessible and means that children aren’t exposed to these experiences before starting school. Another key challenge we see is ‘book deserts’ which essentially means that there are areas that just don’t have access to books, which is a key indicator of school success down the line.
Could this challenge be aided by technology?
FG: Yes! Especially that we have now gone through this pandemic, the answer is a resounding yes. We have been looking at this for a while now, to increase the access to books via an app that can be available for free and at your fingertips. Of course, paired with that, we need to ensure that this education is also accessible to parents and digestible. Using technology has also shifted families behaviours and having this app has meant that children can use their parents phone to read together.
What new and interesting trends have you seen emerging?
FG: Make Way for Books has always been about breaking down barriers and being out in the community, but now, of course, we have had to transcend this to meeting families online. Initially, we were worried that we would see a drop in family engagement due to the pandemic, but what we have seen is the opposite and have seen a huge desire to connect with our programs. Honestly, we have seen that more barriers have been broken down as with this new online format, we have been able to have a look at what parents are doing with their children at home, how they are using the app or how they are doing the activities we have suggested. This is something we didn’t really have access to before and the digital format of our program is definitely here to stay.
What do you think are the key opportunities for your sector?
FG: Scaling up geographically is very exciting as we will be able to serve more communities than ever before, particularly those that are more isolated. This is a really big opportunity to be able to provide these resources for isolated communities!
What’s your favorite example of tech for good?
FG: That is a hard one! But recently, a resource that I have been using a lot is Khan Academy, which is free and very high quality. That is one of my favorite examples right now as it is really accessible and the user experience is really great.
To find out more information about the Make Way for Books App (they are always open to hear from authors and illustrators!), visit the website or get in contact with Fernando directly.