Through a four-month and many-partner collaboration, The Work Department has been gathering data and insights from parents and caregivers in Southwest Detroit and Brightmoor in order to inform a forthcoming 18-month campaign to decrease the “word gap” among children aged 0-5 in these communities.

Research shows us that by age 3, children in low-income families have heard 30 million fewer words than those in more affluent families. This significantly impacts cognitive and social development, suggesting that low income children are entering kindergarten with an academic disadvantage.

Design lab process - Infographic by Good Done Daily
Design lab process - Infographic by Good Done Daily

Through a series of "design labs," we hosted discussions with parents to get a better understanding of what their day-to-day lives are like, and where opportunities for intervention may exist. In these deep listening sessions, we learned that although parents are aware of how important playing with and talking to their children are in successful development, there are many financial, temporal, and even parent literacy and confidence barriers to fostering a more word-rich environment.

Activity Workbooks
Activity Workbooks

In the design labs, we conducted a series of activities to identify family values, what tools parents and caregivers are already using at home, and to what resources they would like more access. We did these activities in English, Spanish, and Arabic -- to identify similarities and differences among the needs of the diverse cultural communities within Southwest Detroit and Brightmoor. Through eight design labs, we had roughly 80 participants contribute ideas, insights and personal stories. This human-centered approach ensured we had community buy-in and ownership over the shape that this campaign would take, and would therefore be practical and accessible by the communities it is meant to reach.

Timeline activity in action!
Timeline activity in action!

Thank you to all partners on this project for making this discovery phase a success. We look forward to continuing the conversation with parents and caregivers over the next 18 months, and helping develop experiences and curriculum for facilitating a more word-rich environment!

ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services)

American Indian Health and Family Services


Brightmoor Alliance


Congress of Communities


Development Centers


Early Works LLC


Good Done Daily


Southwest Solutions


Thank you, Parents!
Thank you, Parents!

Services Provided:

  • Communication Strategy
  • Participatory Design
  • Constituent Relationship Management
  • Visual Design