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Colors of Kindness

Holistic Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Hybrid Program

Colors of Kindness is an education-in-emergencies adaptation for the Rainbow of Education. Using social and emotional learning materials delivered via podcast, this EdTech solution seeks to address the disruption of education due to global crises. The program aims to enhance the wellbeing of teachers and children, social inclusion, and equitable access to holistic education for all children.

Spotlight 2022






Target group
Students basic
February 2023
Children in crisis experience extreme stress and adversity, leading to anxiety and depression making it difficult for them to learn and connect with their peers. This also impacts the ecosystem around them, including teachers. Colors of Kindness addresses these learning gaps from the very root, providing the psychosocial support and social and emotional skills needed as the precursor to learning.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

COVID-19 disrupted the lives of children around the world, interrupting optimal child development. Given the uncertainty of the world due to these disruptions in education, Colors of Kindness empowers children in low-resource settings through holistic SEL. Our programming provides access to a healthy, stable environment that improves a child’s ability to stay engaged and process information.

How does your innovation work in practice?

Aiming to improve children’s 1) social and emotional skills, 2) wellbeing, and 3) academic outputs, teachers are trained on SEL fundamentals and implementation of this EdTech model. The program provides SEL curriculum via audio podcasts that are embedded within an interactive digital workbook with visual aids that feature our culturally sensitive, gender neutral blobs. With 10, 16, or 18 week adaptations, children learn fundamentals of SEL. The intersection of these themes and activities reflects the growing need for childhood pedagogies to include human-centered approaches integrating social, emotional, cognitive, and physical aspects of learning. Each week, activities include an opening exercise, breathwork, a main activity (i.e., Emotions Charades or Dream Mapping), a yoga pose, a check-in using our emotions thermometer, and a closing gratitude practice. Children are also prompted to complete a challenge, which aims to give them a task to focus on throughout the week.

How has it been spreading?

Colors of Kindness was born from UNHCR's HEA COVID 19 Challenge, and piloted in Bangladesh in Bangla & Rohingya with 137 children, including a high percentage of girls and Rohingya refugees. Our initial findings indicated a 16.5% increase in SEL competency, and 99% increase in mood and positive outlook amongst the children. It was localized/translated into Spanish, French, and Arabic, and a workbook adaptation was downloaded in 175 countries. The program was also piloted in Uganda and Greece, with the Greek Ministry of Education requesting programing be made available to all schools in the country as of Sept 2022.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

The program is available under a CC-BY-NC-ND-International 4.0 License at https://colorsofkindness.org/ for non commercial use only. Given the nature of the trauma sensitive content, the program is designed to safeguard the children, and does NOT allow for derivatives to be made. Localization and training are suggested, so please email info@amalalliance.org for more information.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

The focus on Social and Emotional skills through a use of a variety of approaches makes this innovation highly scalable as well as impactful for the learners who have access to the programme.

HundrED Academy Reviews
This innovation could be adopted and adapted in contexts I am familiar with to a high standard and sustained for the foreseeable future. Is suitable for all age levels.
The program breaks down CASEL competencies over 10 weeks, and uses a variety of techniques such as group work, stretching and creativity making it an effective SEL program after COVID.
- Academy member
Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process


Design Series: Designing with Purpose
by Danielle De La Fuente, CEO of Amal Alliance — HEA COVID-19 Challenge FinalistThe role of design in humanitarian settingsOn a trip to Chios, Greece in the middle of summer, we witnessed a shocking disconnect between the humanitarian sector and the people it seeks to serve. Amidst scorching heat, it was baffling to see that an organization would be handing out blankets. Perhaps the blankets would be useful once the season changed, but as a new organization on it’s first ever reconnaissance trip, we found this to be a puzzling and disconcerting situation. Had no one properly assessed the needs of the beneficiaries and local community or understood the cultural context and settings where these blankets would be distributed? While the intention was most certainly good, the design and its implementation appeared to be misguided.In humanitarian contexts, especially emergency situations, the design process is ever more crucial. The margin of error is a thin line from doing good to doing harm. You might think that’s a silly notion when talking about blankets, but what happens when we shift the subject to children who have survived the most unimaginable horrors? Horrors of conflict, grief, inexplicable trauma caused by displacement, sexual abuse and continuous toxic stress that leaves their nervous system in a constant state of flight or fright mode. Assuming the needs of children that have survived extensive trauma can potentially do more harm.Why social emotional learning?Colors of Kindness ‘Emotional Themometer’ which facilitates children’s understanding and expression of different emotions © Amal AllianceSeveral physiological and psychological factors need to be addressed before a child can truly engage in the learning process. Psychosocial support is key to bridging this learning gap that displaced and out of school children face. Introducing this support in the form of social emotional learning, allows children to build the resilience needed to thrive. While traditional educational models focus on academic performance and quantifiable outcomes, the human element falls short.Even though the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted learning, it has provided us the opportunity to re-imagine our educational systems, introducing hybrid models of learning that are rooted in empowerment and personal development. The world today demands so much from our children. We need to provide them with the skills necessary for the 21st century — such as communication, confidence, creativity, and empathy. Sadly, these are often forgotten in the classroom setting. Innovations in technological pedagogy can most certainly facilitate and enhance this type of learning, but it cannot replace the social and relational aspects necessary to learn. Our Ed Tech solution sets forth to combine these two worlds. On the one hand, our content mobilizes our cognitive and social emotional resources to build the emotional intelligence and resilience of our children. While on the other end, through our partnership with Ustad Mobile, we are providing this content through an at distance, low tech, and offline learning management system that leverages technology to reach the most marginalized communities with limited connectivity and resources.Human-centred design — designing with purposeTo design a scalable model that can overcome the numerous challenges faced, it is necessary to understand what is happening on the ground. What is the cultural context, political situation, and local norms? What do our beneficiaries actually need? After becoming a finalist in the Humanitarian Education Accelerator COVID-19 Challenge, our journey to reimagine learning had begun. Our first stop included a Design Sprint with IDEO.org.While our work was already deeply aligned to the concept of human-centred design, an approach to innovation that starts by listening to people and ends with solutions tailored to meet their needs, we had never formally mapped our programming from beginning to end. The IDEO team helped us carefully dissect the user experience, bringing to light flaws that could present difficulties during implementation. We role played various scenarios to streamline the delivery. We attempted to gain insight into the lived experiences of the people we are trying to serve and see how our solution could be beneficial. Producing more questions than answers, this led to a myriad of important guidance that needed to be integrated.With feedback from our implementing partners at Friendship NGO in Bangladesh, we took into account the language, local, and contextual situation. This feedback became critical in designing not only the program itself, but how we would measure its efficacy and impact.Ultimately, IDEO helped us create a step by step user journey, with colorful animated creatures no less, spanning from inspiration — to ideation — to implementation. This experiential blueprint would become the backbone to our hybrid distance-learning model, one that ties technology with the social and emotional skills needed to succeed.The stakes are high in humanitarian contexts. As actors designing programs that will impact the lives of others, it is our duty to be intentional, purposeful, and do no harm.Link to original post
Implementing at Distance: Top 10 reflections from Amal Alliance’s Colors of Kindness team
by Danielle de la Fuente, CEO of Amal AllianceSeptember 10th was a momentous day in the history of our organization. Amal Alliance successfully conducted its first ever virtual training, with participants spread across three different countries and time zones. Some people had just started their day, while others had just finished evening prayer. Everyone was eager to learn about Colors of Kindness and its social emotional pedagogical approach, which normally would be taught in person.But how do you teach about human behaviour and interaction through a digital platform?Even though the COVID pandemic has forced us to be physically distant, we have never been more virtually connected. Technology has bridged distance and time, bringing our offices, partnerships, and friendships into our homes. Even though this accessibility has indeed made it more difficult to disconnect from work and blurred the lines between personal and professional, it has enabled us to interact with colleagues across the globe without the necessity of travel and the expenses associated with it.Tight turn-around and virtual partnership buildingWe were selected as one of the Humanitarian Education Accelerator finalists on August 6th, giving us approximately 5 weeks until our scheduled implementation date. New programme creation typically takes several months, or even years, so a 5-week turnaround time was ambitious in itself.Not only did we first need to identify and organise the planning and coordination process itself, but we needed to find a trustworthy local partner that shared our values and vision. While never having met in person, we were fortunate to cement a strong partnership with Friendship NGO in Bangladesh through our Global Dignity partners. During UNHCR’s virtual bootcamp, we also met Ustad Mobile, our virtual colleagues behind the technological component of our programme. Forging new partnerships is something we normally would have done in person, or at the very least after having met in person. However, the travel restrictions forced us to develop these relationships entirely on WhatsApp and Zoom; showcasing that relationships can indeed be cultivated at a distance.Key Factors to ConsiderLaunching a new programme is never an easy feat, but launching one 7870 miles away with a 14 hour time difference is an entirely different story. Our three person team was spread across the world — in Kyrgyzstan, NYC, and Washington DC, making internal communication slightly more tricky. Add to that, our technological partner was based in Dubai. Working closely with our Bangladeshi colleagues, we spent countless hours understanding the local context, getting a frame of reference as to what could possibly be done given the new COVID restrictions, and learning more about the challenges we could face in the Rohingya camps.Developing a programme can best be described like putting together a puzzle. Each piece possesses certain angles and edges that connect precisely with another. If the pieces don’t align perfectly, it makes it very difficult to form the whole. When working with children, especially those from displaced populations that have endured tremendous trauma, ensuring these pieces are placed in a thoughtful and meaningful manner becomes even more important. Language considerations, local infrastructure and customs, building trust with the teachers, and more practical monitoring and evaluating protocol all comes into play. For example, when working within social emotional learning, literal translations of complex terminology lose the nuances of the concepts themselves. Therefore, it is critical to find strong translation partners that not only understand the content, but can descriptively bring it to life in another language. Since the Rohingya dialect does not have a written script, we first had to translate the English into Bangla, which in turn would be recorded into Rohingya audio files. Multiple translations posed a stronger threat of concept dilution, and thus required numerous cross checks. In addition, the numerous COVID precautions required that we role play the games and activities to ensure that social distancing could be maintained.Lessons LearnedImplementing at a distance requires a higher level of patience than what is needed in person.Communication is key, but vocalising your needs becomes even more integral when non-verbal cues can’t be seen. Furthermore, communicating with team members, colleagues, and partners across numerous timezones in various countries requires extra planning and coordination. It can often lead to meetings at odd hours of the early morning or late evening, bypassing traditional office hours.Flexibility and being accommodating make for a more pleasant work experience.Zoom etiquette varies from country to country. While having your video off can at times be awkward, poor connectivity requires many locations to transition to audio only.Forging relationships with partners overseas over Zoom and WhatsApp is possible, but does require additional effort and more articulate and clear communication.Training teachers online proved effective but needs to involve an additional component that allows teachers and trainers to have direct and constant communication for additional support. This additional component can most practically be described as being “on call” to troubleshoot at distance.Delivering social emotional content requires teacher training. This factor ensures the familiarity of the concepts can be optimally conveyed.Fancy and verbose language has no place in the classroom. Practical and simple instruction makes implementing the programme easier for teachers, and easily understood by the students.Technology can be fickle, so always have a back up plan for any unforeseen technical bugs.While monitoring and evaluation is critical to understanding the success of the programme, it is important to keep it simple and straightforward. Take time to understand what you want to measure, how you plan to capture the data, and what the simplest way to do this could be.Final thoughtsWhile numerous hurdles challenged us, they provided us with valuable lessons. Our M&E framework and the input of teachers provided us with a continuous feedback loop that kept us cognisant of what aspects of the programming best worked.Teachers were very happy to introduce such novel content to the children and found the SEL programming to be engaging, timely, and extremely beneficial to both the Rohingya and Bangladeshi children. Both the teachers and the children expressed that they wished this programme had started much earlier during the COVID pandemic.Every week, the children take their emotional temperature and note where they find themselves on our Emotions Thermometer. As we see the children’s emotions move into a higher realm of happiness, and see smiling faces eager to return to class, we find ourselves filled with gratitude for the privilege of being able to pilot this programme from the other side of the world.Link to original post
Announcement of HEA COVID-19 Challenge Finalists!
Following the HEA’s first virtual bootcamp — which saw 13 successful teams come together for an intensive week of collaborative learning — UNHCR, Education Cannot Wait, the EdTech Hub and Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) are pleased to announce the following three teams have been selected as finalists for the HEA COVID-19 Challenge:Amal Alliance + Ustad MobileMosaikM-ShuleEach of these teams will receive up to 60,000 USD in financing to assist with scaling their programme and extending access to their solutions in refugee-hosting contexts. The three teams will also receive further mentorship support from HEA mentors and partners, including each participating in tailored ‘design sprints’ — facilitated by IDEO.org — to refine how they will scale (find out more about what a design sprint looks like here).We are excited to be working with these inspiring teams as they scale and will be sharing blogs, tools and interviews here on the Learning Series as we follow their scaling journeys, interrogate common challenges and celebrate achievements over the coming months.In the meantime, here’s a short introduction to the teams and what made their solutions stand out to the HEA selection panel:Amal Alliance and Ustad MobileAmal Alliance and Ustad Mobile entered our week-long virtual bootcamp as two separate teams but left having formed a dynamic new partnership, which marries Amal Alliance’s Colors of Kindness Podcast with Ustad Mobile’s innovative mobile learning App.Colors of Kindness is a podcast that seeks to bridge the learning gap and provide psychosocial support to children and their families during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, through social emotional learning (SEL) centered content that enhances well-being. The Ustad Mobile app is an innovative mobile Learning Management System which can be used on or offline, and enables users to share content with each other offline directly from phone to phone. The app will be improved based on feedback during the HEA and a new version will be built to run on $11 feature phones to reach the widest possible audience.What stood out to the HEA selection panel? Amal Alliance and Ustad Mobile’s good use of the HEA Virtual Bootcamp, identifying and then quickly forming an exciting partnership, really stood out. Each of these innovative organization’s solutions also addressed key gaps in the Sector, providing much needed SEL support for communities, and also a tool for distributing rich media content in low-resource environments. The combination of the two solutions could prove pivotal. The team’s focused M&E plan and commitment to finding ways of measuring SEL outcomes was also noted by the panel.MosaikMosaik’s Open Dogme Toolkit will support English language teachers of refugee youth to sustain interactive remote English Language Training (ELT) during social distancing. The toolkit will provide online training for teachers on Dogme methods (learner-driven dialogic teaching strategies), alongside digital guides and techniques to use in planning lessons, and a community of practice, where peers will be able to share ideas and challenges, as well as receive support from experienced teachers.What stood out to the HEA selection panel? Mosaik’s proposal was noted for its clear presentation, particularly their well thought through scaling plan and monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) plan. This programme is also trying to tackle a common challenge of transforming face-to-face classroom instruction, and teacher training into the online remote environment — enabling the Sector to gain significant learnings from Mosaik. Finally, the proposal also provided the panel with a solid understanding of how Mosaik internalized and reflected the feedback during the Bootcamp, providing an strong overview of Mosaik’s internal work on risk mitigation and challenging assumptions.M-ShuleM-Shule seeks to bring inexpensive, relevant and accessible learning content to refugee and host community children at home — during COVID-19 and beyond — through their SMS learning platform. They use text messaging to reach learners who are in need of learning resources but do not have access to smartphones or internet, to ensure continued learning throughout school closures. The platform leverages artificial intelligence to deliver tailored curriculum-aligned content to primary school learners based on their specific grade, performance and needs, all through text message.What stood out to the HEA selection panel? M-Shule’s proposal stood out for its innovative focus on science, clearly illustrating how their solution marries a low tech solution with artificial intelligence to deliver curriculum aligned content. The strong emphasis on working to enhance access to the national curriculum as a form of systems strengthening was also noted, along with their strong potential for scale.Congratulations to all three of the teams!Further congratulations also go to a further member of the HEA Virtual Bootcamp — Jusoor — whose Refugee Education COVID Response programme has been selected by the EdTech Hub to benefit from their sandbox support.You can check in with how all of the successful teams are navigating the next steps in their journey to scale here on the Learnings Series and don’t miss updates from us @HEAccelerator on Twitter too.Link to original post

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