The BASHO & FRIENDS Show: Bilingual Learning Through Music

What if kids' media respected youth as changemakers and encouraged them to be active participants in their society - no matter how young?

Photo of Basho Mosko
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

As a first year bilingual kindergarten teacher I apprenticed under two 20-year veterans who taught me about learning through music. It kept the kids engaged and made the content memorable. That year I sang my way through lessons, transitions, and even discipline, but the audience was so small. I wanted to reach more kids. Then in grad school I discovered YouTube. My simple documentary about swimming engaged thousands worldwide! I now had a means to massive social change - music videos!

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

If you chose to self-identify your race, ethnicity, or origin, please share here: (the answer will not be public)

White

Website

www.bashoandfriends.com

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Colorado

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Boulder

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Texas

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Global

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Classroom lessons and mainstream kids media rarely respect the complex identities that kids bring to the table. We make learning fun and relevant through the use of hip hop culture, animation, live action videos, bilingual content, complex characters, and authentic communication with kids. We blend the social emotional support of Mr. Rogers (heart) with the energy of Jay Z (hustle) and use that framework to deliver educational content that informs, invites, activates, and delights. In addition, because it has all be produced for native digital distribution and consumption, our content is designed to reach kids where they're at, encourage co-viewing and participation with caring adults, and spark real-world actions that affect their communities.

We produce bilingual, musical video content that makes learning fun and speaks to the real issues kids are dealing with. Combine a diverse musical bed with hip hop sensibility and over 20 years of knowledge of child development and academic growth, and you have The BASHO & FRIENDS Show: Bilingual Learning Through Music - a weekly show hosted by Basho that hopes to revive the unprecedented safe space that Mr. Rogers created and match it with the unrivaled prolific music writing and pop influence of Jay Z. 

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • Religious minorities (non-Christian)
  • Low-income communities
  • No, not explicitly

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded

2010

Project Stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages, and the next step will be growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Did you know that 35 states in the US do not require that children attend Kindergarten! And of those students enrolled, the quality of their educational experience varies greatly based on their socio-economic status. Low-income kids generally have the least access to high quality teachers and educational content. At the same time, access to information for people of all backgrounds is getting increasingly easier thanks to low-cost, internet enabled mobile devices. Now imagine the 5 year old that attends a low-quality, 1/2 day kindergarten vs. one that is in high-quality, full day program. This formative educational year is being kept from too many kids. We plan to bring the high-quality teacher and content directly to kids and families.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Last year alone, kids around the world watched over 6 million minutes of our educational content and are learning from it as illustrated in the comments:

"Nice video. Basho!!!! I'm am African American and I'm teaching my 4 year old son spanish. He loves your videos. When you make it a song he picks it up."

"I got an A+ 100 on my quiz! Thank You, +BASHO and FRIENDS!”,

Fans are engaging with the content and using it to solve real-life problems. We generated 1960 comments, over 4600 social shares, and created an online community passionate about our mission. With topics like "back to school" "growing" and "home" this next year will focus on Social Emotional wellbeing and we plan to double our subscribers year and track up to a million monthly views by January 2017. The goal is to reach every 4-6 year old in America by 2018 and expand geographically and in age range from there.

Organization Type

  • for-profit

Annual Budget

  • $10k - $50k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our production expenses are completely covered by revenues from licensing deals, YouTube advertising, and digital content sales at this point. We have no debt and will only grow in line with additional revenue unless there is an opportunity to take the right kind of investment from a group that aligns with our vision for massive, global social change. Additional future revenue streams include curriculum, support materials and merchandise.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and over 4 billion YouTube videos are viewed every day so there is no shortage of content; however the percentage of people making educational content for the platform is relatively small. Narrow that down to content that is created natively for mobile consumption, is music driven, and is backed by an experienced educational team, and we're one of a very few companies pushing into this realm of early learning transmedia education as delivered by a YouTube personality.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

YouTube has taken front stage as a primary content source for kids over the past few years. Eight of the top 10 slots in a survey ranking talent conducted exclusively for Variety are now commanded by YouTube creators. Content is on-demand and education is shifting to meet that new paradigm. The internet is becoming more accessible worldwide so the audience for high-quality educational content will continue to expand. More than anything, I see how the authenticity of people being vulnerable with their fans and followers on YouTube appeals to kids and offers a new model for exploring identity.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Changemakers.com
  • Email

Program Design Clarity

The main beneficiary community of our content are kids, both domestic and international, that do not have regular access to high-quality educational content for free and on the devices that they can access. The BASHO & FRIENDS creative team and collaborative community is focused on producing fun, educational, musical content every week, to be delivered on whatever device kids can access. Our content offers foundational lessons, exposure to new languages and cultures, and a loving guide to social emotional skills that will help them navigate an increasingly complex world.

Community Leadership

Each week Basho works with his friends, both animated and in the audience around the country, to create music videos that help educate and inspire. We have a consistent online dialogue with viewers and use those conversations to drive themes and lessons, and our social media channels break down barriers between "talent" and "viewer" and empower our community to become creators by offering a platform to bring their ideas to life.

Age of Children Impacted

  • 0-1.5
  • 1.5 -3
  • 3 - 5
  • 6 - 12
  • 12+

Spread Strategies

We plan to shape systems, culture and behavior by reaching a critical mass of viewership with content that educates, inspires, and supports kids understanding of their own emotional wellbeing through modeling in our weekly episodes. To reach critical mass we are collaborating with some of the largest YouTube channels in the world (Cool School, Chu Chu TV, Super Simple Songs) and also pitching to PBS, Univision and Dreamworks.

Reflect on how your work helps children to thrive. How are you cultivating children’s sense of self, belonging, and purpose through your model?

Because we're in such close communication with our viewers through social media, we're able to keep track of what issues they're most interested in and concerned with. This understanding builds a close relationship and trust in our brand for parents and kids alike. From trust we can help build character by celebrating the real-life stories of our viewers as woven into musical animated adventures viewed by millions.

Leadership Story

I'm the kid who always had a video camera in hand and put himself through college by teaching preschool. Kids and media have been the two consistent threads through all of my adventures: 6-months volunteering at an orphanage in Guatemala, producing a documentary about refugee kids in Ethiopia, launching a service-learning charter school, teaching bilingual kindergarten, launching an arts-based after school program in Oakland, Columbia grad school for International Affairs. . . I was always learning and shooting video with a goal to change the world. Now I understand distribution so watch out!

What awards or honors has the project received? (Optional)

Pacesetter in the Ashoka Re-Imagine Learning Challenge.

Organization's Twitter Handle

@bashoandfriends

Organization’s Facebook Page (URL)

www.facebook.com/bashoandfriends

Leader's LinkedIn Profile (URL)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bashomosko

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 66.7%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 0%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 33.3%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 100%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 0%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 0%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 0%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 33.3%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 66.7%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 0%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 0%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 66.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 100%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 100%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 100%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 100%

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