We are a start-up launched recently (June 2020) and bootstrapped with volunteer work. We want to be financially sustainable by late 2021. Until then, we have space for one partner that shares the same vision of educating today the leaders of the future.
Our vision and mission
Our vision is a better world, where today's children are tomorrow's leaders and have high emotional intelligence with the character traits that stem from it: teamwork, courage, honesty, empathy, resilience, gratitude, and social and environmental responsibility.
To get there, our mission is to teach children to recognise their emotions, understand the reason, and get their needs met; and also to help parents and teachers create a space to talk about emotions with their children.
Our first goal is children's happiness.
You can find all about us by clicking on the headings of this page. If you have any questions or feel that something is missing, please contact us.
Before the pandemic, 20% of children had low emotional awareness, which is one of the risk factors for anxiety (32% correlation) and depression (40% correlation) (Kranzler et al., 2016). These problems have been increasing: anxiety and depression rose 50% between 2003 and 2007 (Center for Disease Control) and the situation worsened with the pandemic (Barnardos, 2020).
It is an educational and free children's series about emotions, also with activities and a podcast. It is designed for families and schools that value emotional intelligence and have children aged 5-10 (suggested ages). It provides quality educational videos and activities and podcasts. The characters in the videos are puppets and the main character is Bulgy (the puppet on our website's logo). Each day of activity takes between 10 minutes and 1 hour to complete. Families and schools can access content on our website and complete the program flexibly and at their own pace.
Fortunately, many initiatives are working on this problem. They fall roughly in two groups:
- Training and professional development of educators, for example the RULER programme from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, which takes one year of training teachers and schools. These in-person programmes are effective and based on science but take time and significant resources to implement with teacher and school training.
- Videos and movies that cover emotions, such as Sesame Workshop and Inside Out. These digital video programmes scale easily but miss the human relationship that is at the heart of emotional intelligence.
Our solution uses the best of both approaches:
- it is scalable because most content is digital and we use the internet to distribute videos, podcasts, and songs;
- it is effective because teachers and parents not only see the videos along with children, but they also apply the messages in specific situations of children's lives.
A perfect example is the story one mother told us. Her 4-year old daughter was riding a bicycle and stopped in front of a slope. The mother mentioned episode 6, where Wisecrack feels afraid of waves, names his emotions, and the fear no longer controls him. The child followed the same steps, felt relief, and cycled down the slope.
We use the scalability of digital communications over the internet and the effectiveness of personal communications within the family or the school. Children learn by analogy with the tangible examples in the stories and thanks to personal communication with adults. Our innovative method is both digital and human, artistic and scientific, entertaining and educational.
We believe we are solving an urgent problem because of the exponential growth in our impact measures (statistics below) and also because of the testimonials we hear from parents and children.
The following results are from the usage data of our website:
- 1.8: average number of times children watch each video;
- 96%: satisfaction of registered families (average of 268 ratings);
- 127 teachers registered;
- 1017 users registered;
- 5751 children following the programme;
- 901 followers on Facebook;
- 11442 total views of our video episodes.
The following results come from a questionnaire between 7th and 10th March 2021 for the 76 families that reached the 9th episode. Of these, 50 answered (66% response rate) with answers for 66 children with 6.7 years of age on average (standard deviation: 2.1). The questionnaire drew inspiration from the "Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire" and had these instructions.
You will find below 5 statements. For each of them, choose one of the following options:
- Not true
- Somewhat true
- Very true
It would help us a lot if you answer all statements to the best of your ability, even if you are not absolutely sure or if the statement sounds strange. Please answer based on Bulgy's impact (videos, podcast, activities, and conversations that it sparked) and the child's general behavior (independently of lockdown in the last few weeks).
Phone survey results
The following results are from a survey of enrolled parents on 13th July 2020:
- 100% of surveyed parents like the program;
- 100% of surveyed parents like that the program creates a space to talk to children about emotions;
- Parents report that children retain between 75% and 100% of the content.
Our impact indicators exploded since we opened registration to the public in Portugal in January 2021 due to the new lockdown, as we show below. The first graph is the number of families that used our website, the second is the number of new viewings of episodes, both over the 30 days prior to each date. The numbers are the growth of these indicators compared to the previous month. We update these figures each day.
We are a social enterprise and our first priority is to solve the problems due to low emotional intelligence among children (see more below). We first want to create impact and value, and only later capture some of that value.
Even so, we have some possibilities for sales that come from requests of our users, which we will explore with the goal of becoming financially sustainable by late 2021:
- Sell the children's series to schools with live theatre and facilitation sessions with discussion and sharing in classrooms.
- Sell the series to TV stations.
- Sell "puppet therapy" sessions over the internet for children to talk about emotions with Bulgy in the presence of parents.
We contribute mainly to:
- goal 4 of quality education, because emotional intelligence improves academic achievement by 11 percentile points (Durlak et al., 2011);
- goal 3 of health and well-being, because emotional intelligence has a 50% correlation with mental health and 27% with physical health (Martins et al., 2010); and because emotional intelligence has highly positive consequences, improving interpersonal relationships, group cohesion, and emotional well-being (Brackett et al., 2006).
In the long term, we also hope to contribute to:
- goal 8 of economic growth and decent work, because 47% of jobs are at risk of automation and of disappearing (Frey and Osborne, 2013) and the jobs of the future are those that an algorithm and robot cannot do, i.e. based on empathy and emotional intelligence;
- goal 12 of responsible consumption and production, because the correlation between consumption and happiness is low (0.2, Veenhooven e Vergunst, 2014) and we anticipate that children with emotional intelligence will, as adults, find happiness inside themselves without needing frenetic consumption and will not put pressure on the planet's resources.
Our theory of change, in a abridged format, is:
- our stakeholders are families or schools with children aged 5 to 10
- the problem is the low emotional awareness in 17% of children (learn more)
- one cause is the lack of emotional education in schools and in families
- our activity is a series of videos and podcasts to watch and listen as a family or in the classroom (learn more about the solution)
- our output is the number of registered families or schools
- our outcome is the improvement in emotional intelligence of children (measured by the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale)
- our impact in children is better education (measured by school results), health, work prospects, and happiness in life, in line with Sustainable Development Goals 4, 3, 12, and 8 (learn more)
- our short-term metric is an internet survey of registered families or schools with the main question being "Would you be very disappointed if you could no longer use our children's series?" (the standard measure of product-market fit).
- our monitoring is a pilot project in schools with random allocation and measurement of school results, levels of emotional awareness in children, and change in behaviour from interviews with parents or teachers (the project leader has a PhD and experience in randomised controlled trials, e.g. this proposal with ethics approval)
- our risks are mainly financial (if we don't generate enough revenue to become sustainable) and attrition (if families drop out of the programme), both of which we can and do quantify.
Our policy for equality, diversity, and inclusion rests on the following points.
We insist on gender parity both in the team and in our videos.
We follow practices from academic research (the project lead studied the economic impacts of discrimination): for example, we ask job candidates to omit the name on resumes to avoid cultural bias; for voice artists, we do interviews only with audio to avoid a bias of physical appearance.
Inside the team, we privilege sharing emotions and vulnerability, for example: we start and finish each meeting with a round of sharing our feelings in the moment, which creates psychological safety for teamwork and also helps deal with difficulties before they become problems.