My father was heavily involved in our community in Minneapolis and created many programs to serve low-income and vulnerable people in the neighborhood where I grew up. One of the most successful programs was a preschool, and I saw firsthand how effective early childhood care and learning can make a lifelong difference in children.

After working internationally in various roles I decided to pursue a dual graduate degree in business and public policy. I then worked for six years at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and did my part to advance its mission of creating a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. Inspired by this direction but wanting to shift gears and work more closely with on-the-ground efforts in the U.S., I gravitated toward early childhood learning and care as a pivotal lever to make a difference.

With this in mind I founded Third Sector Intelligence (3Si) in 2013. In our early days the intrepid 3Si team primarily served as consultants with a focus on data, analytics, and technology. This led us to provide extensive technical assistance to many state governments, philanthropies, and other key stakeholders across the country.

In doing this work we quickly discovered some common patterns. First, nearly every state government valued an Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) – without which it is extremely difficult to do even basic tasks, like correctly counting the children you’re trying to serve! Second, almost no one was happy with their ECIDS – the common experience ranged from little-used mediocre, antiquated systems to outright failure.

After spending many years trying to help many clients extricate themselves from these painful situations, we finally threw up our hands and decided we could do better. We therefore set out to build a software platform that wasn’t mired in the mud of data silos, cost overruns, etc. but instead leveraged the vast knowledge and wisdom of many experts across many states and many domains.

The result is the Child Universal Success Platform (CUSP). We were extremely excited when we first built it! But we also wanted to make sure it was truly a different and long-lasting positive software solution. We therefore partnered with an initial and diverse cohort of state governments, philanthropies, and nonprofits to prove the concept. We’re happy to say that the reality matched our expectations.

We’re now working feverishly to extend CUSP’s reach and impact both with our existing partners but also with new partners. The goal remains the same: help our partners reach and positively change the lives of as many children and families as possible.