Scroll with Purpose
Pitch your solution.
COVID-19 has caused unemployment rates to reach record levels this year. A large portion of these individuals are young people, those who held part-time jobs, those with low levels of educational attainment, and minority groups - the exact individuals who need re-skilling and up-skilling to get back on their feet and back into the workforce.
We have created Rumie-Learn, an open library of microlearning modules that make learning a new skill possible in 10 minutes or less. Our goal is to meet people where they are, removing any barriers they might have to accessing these resources, by forming strategic partnerships. These partnerships include job boards to enhance their offerings to their users, public spaces where people naturally gather such as laundromats and bus stops, and youth empowerment organizations.
The future possibilities of Rumie-Learn are endless as we continue to innovate areas that are skill-building opportunities just waiting to be utilized.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
COVID-19 has caused and continues to cause significant job loss as the result of lost revenue, business closures, and the ongoing need for everyone to physically distance. In April, the unemployment rate in the US reached 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression. Since then, it's gradually improved as businesses have attempted to reopen safely. However, currently (as of October), the rate is still 6.9%. That’s at least 22 million people looking to get back into the job market.
According to the World Economic Forum, 54% of adults will need significant re-skilling and up-skilling by 2022 as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. These new skills will also be imperative for the 130 million new roles that will also be created by 2022 due to tech advancements. While individual job requirements differ, soft skills (abilities that can't easily be replicated by machines) are highly transferable and in-demand. These include problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, communication, and social awareness.
Skill development and lifelong learning courses, however, require time, money, and digital resources - factors that approximately 60% of the population face barriers in. Our mission is to make this learning accessible to everyone and as easy as scrolling through social media.
What is your solution?
Rumie is the purposeful alternative to social media. Our platform Rumie-Learn is an open, mobile-first, data-driven library of microlearning Bytes(TM) centered on life skills and career development. The format of these 6-8 minute interactive modules work on any device with a web browser, are ideal for smartphones, and are proven to be 20% more effective than traditional e-learning.
Our Byte learning content comes from three avenues: subject matter experts, leading non-profit organizations, and corporate partners. Our Rumie-Build platform allows volunteers to work individually or virtually in teams to create quality Bytes.
While Rumie-Learn is open and free for everyone, we are also developing strategic partnerships in three main areas:
1) Job Boards who recognize the need for this kind of content to add value for their user base.
2) Transforming public spaces where people naturally gather such as laundromats, bus stops, cafes, etc. into skill-building opportunities.
3) We are investing in our future by partnering with organizations that empower youth to create resources geared towards developing the skills needed for them to thrive in the future economy.
Our goal is for every individual, wherever they may be, to have access to skill-building resources, leading them to reach their full potential.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Our target population is any individual who is unemployed or underemployed. This includes young people attempting to enter the workforce, part-time workers who either lost their income due to COVID-19 or are looking for a way to secure full-time employment, low-income individuals who may not have the means to attend university and might be left behind by the new tech economy, and generally anyone who experiences barriers to developing the skills necessary to gain meaningful employment.
In order to ensure we are providing the resources that are of the greatest benefit to our users, we obtain knowledge from a few different avenues. We listen and learn from our distribution partners who are in direct contact with specific user groups and are focused on those needs. We also listen to our corporate partners, who are the employers. They guide us by determining the skill gaps they find to be common in current job applicants.
We also acquire ongoing metrics from the usage on Rumie-Learn. The usage metrics that we’re collecting are content completion, content favorites, and content sharing. This constant stream of feedback allows us to make informed decisions on the type of content that is beneficial for the individual users.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Increase access to high-quality, affordable learning, skill-building, and training opportunities for those entering the workforce, transitioning between jobs, or facing unemployment
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge and your selected dimension.
Rumie-Learn removes all of the barriers that those entering the workforce, transitioning between jobs, or facing unemployment, encounter while trying to develop the necessary skills to be successful. Rumie Bytes are created by experts and pass through rigorous quality checks before being published on Rumie-Learn. They are affordable (free!) and are easily accessible by anyone. Users will find resources regardless of what step of the process they are at - resume building, interview skills, effective communication in the workplace, setting professional goals, etc. Scrolling with purpose will lead individuals to reach their full potential and thrive in their chosen careers.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Washington D.C., DC, USA
In which US state(s) will you be operating within the next year?
What is your solution’s stage of development?Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth
Who is the team lead for your solution?
Tariq Fancy - CEO & Founder
How many people work on your solution team?
Rumie has 17 full-time staff members, 3 part-time staff members (2 Workshop Facilitators, 1 Director of Indigneous Programs) and 3 contractors (members of the Rumie Tech Team).
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization?
The Rumie team is composed of equal numbers of women and men and includes a wide range of diverse backgrounds. When new team members work through the onboarding process, they are presented with Rumie’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy.
The subject-area expert volunteers who create Rumie Bytes are also an extremely diverse group of individuals from all over the world. They each bring their own unique experiences and expertise to the Bytes they create and because of this, we are able to reach and relate to an equally diverse group of users.
Rumie Bytes are by design, inclusive. They are affordable, easily accessible, and cover a range of topics in order to ensure that everyone will find Bytes that benefit their own personal skill development. In addition, the distribution partners that we seek out are ones that work with populations that are often excluded from accessing resources such as these.
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new application of an existing technology
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Rumie-Learn is the best parts of two worlds - higher education and social media.
The education space has generally been an offline endeavor and one that is focused mostly on quality. However, this focus on quality of programming alone tends to only work in traditional, formal settings where those taking the course don’t have a choice in what they’re learning, and how they’re learning it. Audiences looking for specific skill-building opportunities are not captive to this dull but high-quality learning experience.
High-quality x low engagement = low impact.
By contrast, social media has an easy and highly engaging format. Unfortunately, the content is often of unreliable accuracy and is generally low quality from a learning or skill-building perspective.
Low-quality x high engagement = low impact.
Rumie has figured out the solution to this equation and that’s what makes us unique and innovative.
High-quality x high engagement = high impact.
We offer highly relevant, practical, and contextual knowledge that is built for learners, and is all created and made freely available by subject area experts. We know that that’s not enough though — we also need engagement. By giving a simple and productive alternative to those boredom periods that are expertly hacked by social media companies, we have a solution that can add a lot of social value — leveraging short snippets of time for which no other career and life skills programming opportunities exist today. And users still get that dopamine hit that attracts them to social media platforms.
Describe the core technology, if applicable, that powers your solution.
Rumie’s platforms (Rumie-Build and Rumie-Learn) bring the latest in UX, design, software, and artificial intelligence, offering individuals a platform that works for (not against) them, that they are in control of, and gets smarter the more they use it.
Rumie-Build, our microlearning authoring platform allows volunteers to work individually or in teams to create Bytes. Filled with built-in guidance and prompts to support authors in creating quality content, real-time collaboration capabilities, and multimedia integration, Rumie-Build is the tool that facilitates a digital skills-based volunteer opportunity that feels effortless and fun, often helping our volunteers develop their own knowledge in the process.
Rumie-Learn is a mobile-first, data-driven library of localized microlearning content on topics that meet our learner’s needs. There are no barriers to access (i.e. no sign-in needed but can recognize returning devices, is accessible, and supports multiple languages). In addition to this, there are built-in accessibility features (screen reader, etc). The platform is cohesive, clean, and interactive (leveraging principles of gamification), collecting learner feedback every step of the way.
The overall core technology behind our solution involves reliable application servers for business logic, and performant scalable server-less containers for search and other computations. We use secure and backed up relational and graph databases to store our content and the mobile-friendly platform design itself is built on the latest user interface and experience tools.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
Rumie’s platforms leverage artificial intelligence & machine learning to help us create personalized learner experiences, reach and include more learners (through the use of screen readers, conversational AI, etc) and building an automated self-serve learning model.
This type of technology is commonly used in the following ways:
Providing a personalized experience for the user which is seen in streaming services such as Netflix (suggesting what to watch based on your past views)
Improving access for those with disabilities through voice command platforms (Google Home, Siri, Alexa, etc.)
Automation such as self-driving and self-parking cars
These are the key features we are currently developing and improving in the Rumie platforms.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
Rumie-Learn will increase access to high-quality, affordable learning, skill-building, and training opportunities for those entering the workforce, transitioning between jobs, or facing unemployment by performing the following activities:
Building and enhancing the Rumie-Build platform which gives subject-area experts and professionals an avenue to create content and share their knowledge.
Developing content Bytes that is critical to gaining meaningful employment (these include leadership skills, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, critical thinking, technology literacy, etc.)
Developing improved UI across all of Rumie’s platforms (Rumie-Build and Rumie-Learn)
Expanding Rumie-Learn usage with existing distribution partners
Implementing Rumie-Learn with new distribution partners
These activities will lead to the following outputs and outcomes:
Subject-area experts and professionals have an easy and accessible way to share their knowledge with those who need it most.
Rumie’s technology solutions being more accessible to low literacy learners.
Increased number of users of all ages accessing digital skill-building content.
The learning content available on the Rumie platform is relevant and useful for learners.
Users of all ages and skill levels are empowered by access to digital skill-building learning content.
Skill development by non-traditional learning methods increase.
These outputs and outcomes will lead to the ultimate impact of individuals gaining the skills needed to adapt and thrive in the changing workforce. A similar Theory of Change has already proven to be successful in previous Rumie projects. An example of this was when we launched Rumie-Learn in Afghanistan. The platform is being used in non-traditional learning methods to build the skills of users who are affected by the conflict in the country. Results from surveys and interviews after this pilot project showed that 90% of beneficiaries found that Rumie’s learning content made them more confident in their English skills, 99% of beneficiaries were learning something new every single day using the Rumie platform and 99% of beneficiaries strongly agreed that after utilizing the content on Rumie-Learn, they felt more confident participating in their other activities that they were a part of.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many people did your solution serve in 2019? 2018? 2017?
Current - 100,000, 2019 - 50,000, 2018 - 35,000, 2017 - 20,000
What percent of the people you served in 2019 were between the age of 15 and 30?
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
We have an ambitious goal to reach 1 million users by the end of 2021 and 10 million learners by 2025. The overall potential of Rumie-Learn, however, is limitless. With the spread of technology, especially smartphones, the ability to access digital skill-building resources is always increasing.
Our ambitious goals are realistic due to a few key factors. As mentioned, access to various forms of technology is increasing at a rapid pace. We also know that the appetite for learning is insatiable and with life and job skill requirements changing at an accelerating pace, the need to always be learning is growing.
We continue to develop partnerships that have a large user base and will allow us to quickly and easily expand our reach. Finally, we are rapidly building out the features, functionality, and content our platform delivers. With the intersection of all of these factors, we are on track to accomplishing our overall mission of access to quality skill-building resources, ultimately leading to a rise in successful employment.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
Rumie has grown aggressively in the last five years, however, there have been challenges along the way. These include:
1. Content. Rumie-Learn is only as useful as the learning content we offer. This is especially critical as we deliver content to an extremely broad range of learners that are highly diverse in culture, geography, educational background, and primary language.
2. Awareness. We have found that one of the biggest inhibitors to our growth is the lack of people that know about Rumie-Learn. It is essential that we grow awareness of Bytes amongst the partners and learners who would benefit from the solution.
3. Funding. COVID-19 is causing an increased need for our services just as funding sources and corporate sponsors are contending with new financial strains of their own. With an increase in funding, we could accelerate our growth through broader marketing and partner outreach and fast-tracked feature enhancements as well as built-out content libraries.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
We will work to overcome the challenges mentioned above by the following:
1. Content. We proactively source volunteer subject-area experts who have relevant experience in the areas we are working, thereby sourcing content that matches learner needs. We have an experienced Director of Learning who has organized a team of volunteers and has matched them with needed learning objectives. We also have our innovative model to harness company employee volunteers through our virtual volunteer workshops.
2. Awareness. We will work to overcome this challenge by continuing to expand our network and working with distribution partners to provide access to Rumie-Learn to their beneficiaries. We are also leveraging the self-interest of our corporate partners who want to promote the CSR work they are doing together with Rumie. We will take advantage of all of these opportunities to spread the word about Rumie, and grow our marketing efforts.
3. Funding. We continue to work hard to be innovative with our funding sources such as our newly designed virtual employee engagement workshops - companies are still looking for ways to meaningfully engage their team virtually. We also continue to apply for Challenges such as these as well as other grant and funding opportunities.
What outcomes data would you like to be collecting that you are not yet able to collect?
As mentioned, we already collect specific learner usage metrics such as content completion, content favorites, and content sharing.
However, there are other areas of outcomes data that would be extremely useful for us to be collecting. We want to be collecting data on how the content learners consume impacts their decision making in the long term (i.e. what makes a Byte helpful when it comes to choosing a career or choosing what new skills to learn or develop).
Data on what skills learners gained from Bytes that they ended up utilizing in their new job positions and data on what different age groups find useful when it comes to learning soft skills are two other areas that we would like to be collecting data. The Rumie-Learn platform was only launched in Q1 of 2020 and there will be much more data collected as we continue to develop the platform.
What type of organization is your solution team?Nonprofit
How many people are on your leadership team? (Of these, please provide the number of individuals from your leadership team that are full time, part time, and volunteer)
There are 6 members of our leadership team and all are full time.
In what year was your organization founded? How many years have you worked on your solution?
Rumie was founded in 2013 however, we have only been working on the current solution, Rumie-Learn, for the past year.
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Rumie’s team is made up of 20 incredibly diverse individuals from many different backgrounds that have enabled the Rumie team to create a solution that is suitable for countries around the world.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
For our Scroll with Purpose program we have partnerships in three different areas.
1) Job Boards - We've partnered with 70 Million Jobs, a job board that connects individuals with a criminal record to employment opportunities. Rumie-Learn is offered as a resource to support individuals with resume building, interview tips, and other employability skills.
2) Public Spaces - The Laundry Cafe in Philadelphia is a laundromat that offers its users free WiFi, TVs, a library and other ways to pass the time while they wait for their clothes. Rumie-Learn is the landing page when users connect to the WiFi provided.
3) Investing in our future - Best Buy Teen Tech Centres help teens prepare for careers through hands-on experience with tech. The Teen Tech Centres in Denver and Chicago (with plans to expand to other Teen Tech Centres across the country) have started using both Rumie-Build and Rumie-Learn in their programs.
Historically we've received financial and in-kind support from corporate partners including Google, Accenture, Ernst&Young, Boston Consulting Group, and Scotiabank. Over the last few months, however, we have also partnered with companies whose employees participated in our virtual workshops, creating useful Bytes for learners. These companies include Amazon, Manulife, LoyaltyOne, GreenShield, etc.
In addition, Rumie announced in February a high-profile partnership with EcoATM, the largest device recycling company in the US, to support our learners in obtaining used devices. The kick-off event on International Women’s Day received significant media attention including a feature article in Forbes and AdWeek.
What is your business model?
Rumie’s model is built to be low-cost and scalable and because of this, we offer a unique value proposition to each of our partner groups: Corporate Partners, Content Creators, and Distribution Partners.
With our Corporate Partners, we offer an effective employee engagement model, brand goodwill association, and a successful CSR initiative. In return, we receive financial support and volunteer content contributors.
Content Creators receive free tools for converting and delivering their expertise in a digital format and in return, we are able to have access to that content on our open platform and reach new communities.
Distribution Partners such as telecom companies, WiFi providers, and other community organizations receive an avenue to expand their CSR initiatives by providing learning opportunities to their user base and as a result, we are able to impact that user base with our learning content.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Organizations (B2B)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
We continue to grow our corporate employee engagement platform which will allow corporate partners to utilize their CSR budget to actively engage the employees in a meaningful project to share their skills and expertise. The Rumie-Build platform which enables this has only just launched in Q1 2020 but is already seeing significant early traction. Since the COVID crisis has erupted, we have been approached by many companies that want to continue with skills-based volunteer work. In addition to providing a way for companies to engage their employees remotely, these workshops are designed to unlock resources for job and life-skill development that vitally need to be captured and transferred to those who lose their jobs as a result of COVID-19. We are providing a way for experts to create this content and a delivery mechanism to reach those who will have the greatest benefit.
We also have a strong Rumie partnership team. These individuals have developed a strategy around our corporate employee engagement plan as well as setting aggressive outreach targets.
As well, we continue to apply for grants, challenges such as these, and potentially manage one fundraising campaign a year.
If you have raised funds for your solution or are generating revenue, please provide details.
Toronto Community Foundation - $500,000 (debt financing) July 2019
Scotiabank - $450,000 (grant funding) December 2019
GSMA - $200,000 (grant funding) September 2020
If you seek to raise funds for your solution, please provide details.
The goal for Rumie is financial sustainability in order to be able to deliver our free service, cover our operating costs and scale to reach millions of people. In order to do this, we want to raise more than our operating budget of $1,200,000 in grants or donations.
We have been approved by GSMA for a $500,000 grant over the next two years which began last month.
Aside from this, we plan to continue growing our corporate volunteer workshop program which will be a significant source of income for us.
We will also hold a fundraising event starting this month similar to our 2019 campaign which raised $20,000, as well as continue to apply for grants and awards such as these.
What are your estimated expenses for 2021?
Rumie’s estimated expenses for 2021 are $1.2 million and are broken down into the following categories:
Tech and Infrastructure Development - $1.06 million
General Expenses - $130,000
Audit - $10,000
Why are you applying to the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge?
Our reasons for applying go well beyond the funding aspect of the Challenge. As mentioned above, some of our barriers are content, awareness, and funding. The Challenge partners are well-positioned to support us in all of these areas.
Throughout COVID-19, we have developed our virtual employee engagement workshop for companies to actively engage their employees in creating an impact by designing learning content based on their expertise and passion. We are looking to be connected with companies that contribute to a sophisticated and skilled workforce. This would assist us in overcoming our barrier of creating quality and useful content as well as growing the awareness of Rumie and what we do.
Aside from corporate partners, the Challenge partners can open doors for us to reach more users through new distribution partners who would benefit from utilizing Rumie-Learn. As well, the mentorship and guidance provided by IBM and other Challenge partners would also be helpful in working through our barrier of acquiring ongoing and beneficial feedback.
The funding provided by the Challenge partners would support us in further enhancing our platforms in a timely manner, ensuring we can efficiently compete for user attention. Additionally, we would be able to access additional avenues to increase awareness of our platforms.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
In order to scale to the number of learners that the Rumie platform has the potential to do, we are looking for distribution partners such as telecom companies and WiFi providers who can easily reach millions of learners through their networks. Along with other distribution partners such as those looking for digital skill-building opportunities, we will be able to easily reach learners all around the world.
On the corporate side of our partnership model, we are looking for companies whose employees are subject-area experts on the content that is relevant to learners, specifically related to 21st-century skills. By engaging passionate volunteers, we will continuously be able to offer quality content to learners.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
We would like to partner with all of the Challenge partners - Morgridge Family Foundation, New Profit, IBM, and Colorado State University.
The Morgridge Family Foundation is not your typical family foundation. The fact that they are drawn to innovation and also bring different sectors to the table to form meaningful connections, make them a great partner for Rumie.
New Profit's experience scaling social innovation, IBM's tech mentorship and Colorado State's University educational status are all reasons why we would love to partner with these organizations and companies.