Catching up with our first winner of the Innovate for Good Challenge

Catching up with our first winner of the Innovate for Good Challenge

// By Jacqueline Brennan

We first introduced you to Jessica Stern, co-founder and COO of Connect Our Kids, when the nonprofit was named winner of the inaugural Innovate for Good Challenge, launched in 2018 at Upswell LA and supported by Accenture and Independent Sector. Innovate for Good is intended to recognize organizations that are leveraging new technology to solve some of society’s toughest challenges.

As the first-prize recipient, Connect Our Kids received a $20,000 cash prize and professional services from Accenture to help support their new Family Connections tool, which will provide automated assistance to child welfare professionals who are conducting extensive family searches for children in foster care — all on a secure, cloud-based, intuitive software platform, with no cost and no obligation to the advocate.

Several months have passed, so it seems like a good time to check in with Connect Our Kids for an update on what’s happened since then, and their plans going forward:

“Accenture has elevated our mission by helping us raise awareness within their massive, global organization,” says Jessica. “And the $20,000 grant helped us further develop our Family Connections technology tool.

“What’s more, Accenture led our Chief Technology Officer, Travis Collins, in our human-centered design thinking activities to clarify our target users and identify data partnership opportunities.”

According to Jessica, several end-of-year goals are front of mind for Connect Our Kids in 2019, with fundraising and pilot implementation at the top of the list.

“Naturally, these two goals go hand-in-hand,” she explains. “We’re going to launch our nationwide pilot with six partner organizations in October. And we’re aiming to raise $1 million by January 1, 2020. We are giving access to our Family Connections tool at no cost to social workers, family recruiters, and CASA volunteers in all 50 states. So fundraising is crucial as we implement the pilot user feedback and build a small, yet highly talented team to deploy our tool across the country.”

In addition to advancing their mission, Dr. Jennifer Jacobs, CEO and co-founder, was selected to give a thought-provoking presentation at the 2019 Academy Women Officer Women Leadership Symposium (OWLS) Talks. In April, Dr. Jacobs joined four other speakers at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial to give a talk, “Army Officer & Nuclear Scientist to Leading Change in Foster Care.” In March, the organization New Profit launched a campaign to shine a spotlight on leaders across America who are taking on some of today’s toughest social challenges. The nonprofit selected Dr. Jacobs and four other leaders from among 100 nominations to honor as Breakthrough Leaders.

“We’re taking it all in stride,” Jessica adds. “Clearly this growth is great news for America’s foster kids, and the Innovate for Good award was one of the catalysts. We’re positive our Family Connections tool will make a big impact. And we’re hopeful that the American people will continue to be generous in helping us, along with our partner organizations, achieve our mission to find every child in this country a loving, permanent family.”

To learn more about Connect Our Kids and to get involved, visit

1600 900 Jacqueline Brennan
Privacy Preferences

When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in the form of cookies. Here you can change your Privacy preferences. It is worth noting that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we are able to offer.

Our website uses cookies, mainly from 3rd party services. Define your Privacy Preferences and/or agree to our use of cookies.