Community Outreach for At-Risk Children

What if Hmong children became heart-healthy ambassadors to their families by their receptivity to a children's book character?

Photo of Ken Korber
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Written by

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.

I am the published author of The Musical Adventures of Grace and a retired cardiology Physician Assistant. I have formed The Healthy Music Project that brings together other authors to create "collaborative storybooks" where the storybook's character(s) become champions for young children's awareness of healthy living behaviors.

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

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

Website Launching july 1, 2016

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Illinois

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Arlington Heights

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

  • Illinois

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

Chicago and Appleton WI

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Outreach to early childhood development centers and supply teachers with reading resources and music immersion curricular tools heretofore not available or utilized.
Image title

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

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

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

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

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

Do storybook characters influence a 6- and 7-year olds awareness of heart-healthy choices that, in turn, optimize their health? Compared to a matched control group who has not had the experience, YES. We introduced "Melody" as a aspiring chef-friend to Grace (the main character in the 4-book series The Musical Adventures of Grace"). Melody uses salt-substitute ethnic ingredients for DASH diet promotions; to children at-risk for premature hypertension. Another example is having Maestro Vik encourage 2-minute tooth-brushing behavior.

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

Future Impact -- other language translations and other therapeutic areas for pediatric intervention...

Organization Type

  • hybrid

Annual Budget

  • $10k - $50k

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

Grant support and retail purchases of the books

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?

1. This is the first time a children's book series has musically-themed stories AND intrument-wielding characters. 2. This is the first time a children's book series (and its characters) are embedded within an active community outreach effort that provides reading skills AND healthy behavior messages.

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?

Provifing resources to children that are "relatable" to their perspective of the world in shich they live.

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


Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)


Evaluation results

4 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. - 0%

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. - 50%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 25%

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.) - 25%

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. - 0%

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. - 50%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 25%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 25%

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). - 0%

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). - 0%

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. - 50%

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. - 50%

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

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 0%

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. - 25%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 75%

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. - 75%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lacy Stephens

Hi Ken, 
Congratulations on the expansion of your project. It sounds like you are pulling together many important components that contribute to child wellbeing (messages of health and wellness, increased literacy, music and the arts, cultural relevance and self efficacy). I would like to better understand the specific problem you aim to address with the series and a bit more specifically what the actual approach and components of the project are. Is this project focused on expanding the library of titles available, or focused on expanded distribution? I would also love to hear more about how you are integrating culturally relevant components? Are you working with Hmong families or organizations? In a future revisions I might suggest further expanding on these topics. Congratulations again on your important work.
Best wishes,
Lacy Stephens 

Photo of Ken Korber

sending additional information to you email...

Photo of Ken Korber

We have expanded the model beyond Hmong kids ---
1. The Healthy Music Project has a grant to develop a new oral health curriculum for encouraging tooth-brushing for 6- and 7-year olds. Maestro Vik, from The Musical Adventures of Grace, is the featured character of a "Big Smiles Project" storybook, as well as the conductor of a tooth-brushing jingle.
 2. Grace has a new friend - Sammie C-clef who always wanted to play a trumpet, but, needs reconstructive surgery before that can happen. We have a new storybook adventure that will be distributed to the Children's Hospital Association and its member hospitals...