The Playcare franchise was developed in response to a challenge from the Hult Prize Foundation to develop a solution to bring quality Montessori early education to urban slums in the developing world. It's meant to be built in-community so that working mothers have a safe, nurturing place to send their children while they go to work. This model is great because it puts quality education right next door to the children who need it most. Because it's run by a community mother it's also a way to build economic opportunities into communities that traditionally lack them.
The Playcare model is designed to be as adaptable and scalable as possible but, like with any model, it's impossible to make it work in every situation. Some communities might be too small to sustain a whole school and other communities might have safety problems that might make us wary of building there. Instead of viewing this as a failing of our model we saw it as a challenge; how do we provide Playcare-quality education to these extra vulnerable communities?
One day we chatting with one of the parents of a child at our La Cuchilla Playcare and she was talking about her long commute to her job at a local factory. The solution hit us: what if we could build Playcares where vulnerable communities work as well as live?
After what seemed like an eternity working on the details of the Factory Playcare model we finally got our first opportunity to build one. We're extremely lucky to have a great network in El Salvador. A while back while we were toying with the idea of a Factory Playcare we approached a contact of ours who owns a company called Agrosania, producers of the local San Julian brand of millk, cheese, and juice products. Almost 500 women work at their factory daily so we asked them what it would take to get our first Factory Playcare built to support those women's children Their answer? Nothing; when can you start?
We've spent the last three months ironing out the details for that project and we're proud to announce it just launched this week. We're so thankful to the over 60 volunteers who came out to support us and help with the construction and painting of this brand new Playcare. These 60 volunteers represent people from all walks of life: workers at San Julian, volunteers from TECHO, members of the WEF Global Shapers, and even delegates from the Salvadorean Special Olympics team. Building the future of education for a factory, a community, or a country is a monumental task but having amazing friends like these shows us that by working together it's within our reach.
We're even more thankful to San Julian, whose support over the course of this project has been overwhelming. San Julian are one of the increasingly common companies in Latin America who truly care about their employees. Together with them and TECHO we've developed a design and roadmap to expand this Playcare from it's current capacity of 20 children to over 80 children within the next five years. San Julian have separately committed to building a health clinic adjacent. Once completed these initiatives will mean quality on-site services for both the women who work at San Julian as well as their children.