Since 2013, Tipping Point has invested in R+D to fill gaps in our sector and develop new poverty-fighting ideas. Known as T Lab, our R+D team exists to research, prototype and test solutions in partnership with our grantees and the Bay Area community at large.
Research and Development Projects
The Current State of R+D
In 2016, a thousand of the world’s largest companies spent a combined $680 billion on the research and development of new technology, products and services. In the non-profit sector, we spent virtually nothing.
Even the language we use to describe our operating models in the private and non-profit sectors displays our different perspectives. In the private sector, the term infrastructure is used to describe essential business costs. But in the nonprofit sector, we use the terms overhead or administrative expenses—categories that are highly scrutinized.
Although we expect non-profits to tackle and solve massive social problems, rarely do we offer them the resources or autonomy to do so. At Tipping Point, we aspire to change this narrative and help re-write the rules.
How We Operate
T Lab’s iterative process tests hypotheses through structured experiments using human-centered design and behavioral science methodologies.
The Pilot: How We Got Here
In 2013, we built out an R+D space in our office and identified three gaps in the Tipping Point portfolio - childcare, early childhood education and prisoner reentry. We recruited professionals with backgrounds in a range of fields like engineering, policy, social work, architecture, and the arts. They were divided into teams and given six months to tackle our key challenges.
- Year 1 led to Little Scholars, a preschool on a bus concept that resulted in Aspire Public Schools developing a quality preschool option for families in the Bay Area.
- Year 2 launched to Gma Village, a web-based application that connects parents to caregivers in West Oakland.
- Year 3 piloted the idea of holding probation meetings with youth in neutral, inspiring public places such as the Exploratorium or the Bay ferry, as opposed to the sterile and often institutionalized settings of most county offices.