Nathalia Mesa

aeioTU, Colombia

Organization Focus
Three million children in Colombia under the age of six (half of all children) live in vulnerable conditions creating an achievement gap that causes Colombia’s current socio-economic situation.  aeioTU develops the potential of children with its innovative early learning curriculum and operational model.  aeioTU operates 30 early childhood development (ECD) centers across Colombia, with the capacity to provide high quality ECD services to 14,500 children.  Furthermore, aeioTU shares its knowledge with other teachers and ECD centers in Colombia and around the world via diverse strategies and intensities.  Since 2008, aeioTU has impacted the lives of 157,000 children, 279,000 families, and 10,000 educators.

My plans with the 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Award
There still needs a lot to be done to integrate more vulnerable children into the ECD service system with sustainability and high quality.  aeioTU plans to use the Klaus J. Jacobs Award as matching funds to mobilize local companies to open 11 new aeioTU centers.  The company’s commitment and the government support will ensure 550 children have access to high quality services on a sustainable way.  Furthermore, the income received from operating these ECD centers will be reinvested on the current network of aeioTU centers, therefore supporting in a sustainable way the operation for 2,500 children.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
A longitudinal study carried out proved that “aeioTU had a positive, important and stable impact in the cognitive development of children, specially in vocabulary; the impact has remained in most children, even after entering school; and positive impacts are also achieved in reading and math for some cohorts of children”.  During its first decade aeioTU broke the paradigm of impossibility of early education in poor contexts.  With the strength of the evidence provided by this evaluation, aeioTU will continue growing its sustainable ECD centers, developing the potential and changing the lives of thousands of children, and setting an example for professional development for others.