A Books to Bytes Revolution for Youth Employment
Our solution's stage of development:Early
Rumie is a nonprofit with a mission to bring the surge in free digital learning resources to the communities least able to access it but with the most to gain. Rumie’s solution is twofold: offline, low-cost tablets, and the Learncloud – an online repository of free digital learning content.
The Rumie Initiative seeks to deliver the Internet’s wealth of learning resources to offline communities across the globe. Today, the Internet boasts a sea educational content, including for employment skills, across language and subject. Yet there remains millions of children worldwide who not only lack access to quality education, but critical jobs training and skill development opportunities. This puts millions at risk of underemployment or unemployment - an especially serious challenge for crisis-affected communities worldwide.
Rumie’s Books to Bytes program, through its curated content and hardware delivery, aims to bridge the gap between this extraordinary challenge and the wealth of job skills content on the internet. We currently have educational programs in over 23 countries, from the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to the Arctic Circle. All share the common feature of an abundance of promising young people who are chronically underemployment due to a lack of access to skills information and training.
Rumie’s youth job skills solution will bring two strategies to bear on this challenge. First, we collect and curate locally-relevant and context-appropriate job skills content from the Internet, sorting and organizing it on the LearnCloud. Then, we take this content and load it onto our low-cost, highly durable and data analytics-powered Rumie Tablets. Our tablets are designed to work without an Internet connection, allowing them to reach offline learners. When they do connect to the Internet, usage data collection that runs in background uploads data to the LearnCloud seamlessly, enabling educators with key evaluation data.
At scale, Rumie’s solution will revolutionize access to digital job skills content worldwide. Today, the LearnCloud is used to load content onto Rumie tablets, which are deployed to underserved communities around the world. Tomorrow, our LearnCloud app will be accessible to anyone from any mobile device, allowing access to curated educational resources.
We live in a world of economic inequality. Globally, more than 100 million youth are currently out of primary and lower secondary school, interrupting their pathway to economic mobility. Much of this trend is driven by poor governance, endemic poverty, and conflict. Marginalized children, especially those who lack financial resources, or suffer from physical or mental disabilities, face even greater obstacles to receiving a quality education. Displaced youth risk becoming a generation left behind. And yet, we live in an era where skills and employment resources are more abundant than they have ever been. That’s a gap worth filling.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
Rumie has a proven concept read to apply to a youth job skills pilot program. Rumie’s Android tablet software and LearnCloud technology have already been used to engage thousands of volunteers to conquer the digital divide in 23+ countries. We have prototyped our LearnCloud app, which lets anyone with an Android device use all curated content – opening up exponential impact.
Our solution is successful because it is customizable, scalable, and affordable. Rumie tablets have the capacity to deliver the equivalent of a $50,000 library for the cost of a textbook - presenting enormous potential for addressing youth underemployment worldwide.
Our target outcomes:
Rumie’s vision is a world where youth have equal access to high-quality learning tools and skill development, irrespective of who or where they are. Because of the broad geographic reach of the Books to Bytes program, our specific objectives differ by deployment. Across the board though, we want our tablets to drive an youth employment program that (1) increases the number of employment opportunities available to youth by improving key, locally-relevant job skills (2) Decreases the number of underemployed youth in deployment communities (3) allows decision-makers to gather additional data on the effectiveness of educational initiatives.
How we will measure our progress:
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
At present, underserved communities have no way of accessing the Internet’s wealth of digital learning resources. Many communities around the world, despite their extraordinary need for improved education delivery, lack both the hardware to interact with electronic learning content, and the connectivity to access it. Rumie’s technologies help bridge this gap, offering a novel operating system focused on education, a repository of resources curated by educators, and low-cost tablets that work even when offline. Together, they offer the potential of transforming the way that youth living in remote and under-resourced parts of the world can develop practical skills.
Why our solution is human-centered:
From the very outset, our tablets have been developed with our unique user base in mind. Our OS is designed to be accessible to learners and educators irrespective of their cultural background, educational history, or familiarity with technology. Interactive learning tools are meant to be engaging even for students with limited or negative previous schooling experience. And the open nature of the LearnCloud, our resource repositories, means that communities can drive their own content strategies, loading their tablets with what they believe to be most effective.
How people will access our solution:
Rumie works closely with community partners to deploy our technologies around the globe. Our partners bring to bear their deep geographic and cultural expertise, allowing us to tap into regional supply chains and other informal networks that allow effective, targeted distribution of our technology. Generally speaking, the beneficiaries of our technologies don’t pay for it directly, meaning that often, there is little to no associated cost to bringing our tablets into a community. As mobile devices become more prevalent, our software solution, the LearnCloud, will permit anyone with a smartphone to access the Internet’s wealth of learning resources.
Technology-Readiness Level:9 (Commercial)
How we will sustain our team financially:
Rumie is a non-profit organization focused on low-cost education, and the model (profiled by Harvard Business School) is based on the availability of free learning content and of low-cost tablets and smartphones.
We sell our tablets at cost to NGOs, and this one-time expense covers project costs including hardware, software customization, device configuration and built-in impact analytics. s volumes increase, the cost per device lowers because the model is built from the ground up to be extremely scalable.
Additionally, with the LearnCloud’s crowdsourcing model, Rumie can engage skilled volunteers worldwide to do a significant amount of content curation work which helps speed up the deployment process. Teacher volunteers take the content curation 90% of the way, and Rumie and its partners do the final 10% of selecting and organizing content for tablet deployments. This adds enormous value to the company and allows it to keep costs low for its NGO partners.
The factors limiting our success:
The challenge in scaling Rumie’s solution will come predominantly in developing widespread adoption of the LearnCloud, our online repository of free digital learning content. As we grow, it is essential that we develop a robust database of high-quality, open-source educational content. We add value by categorizing and curating this content in ways that our partners find valuable. At scale, this is an enormous task, as the Internet offers a nearly endless supply of educational resources. Creating a community that is willing to contribute to this challenging task is crucial to achieving our long-term ambitions.
How long we have been working on our solution:3 years
How long it will take to develop a pilot:1-3 months
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:6-12 months
Our expected annual budget:
How much of our budget we've secured to date:
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
Rumie’s project stands at a crucial juncture. Until now, our work has focused on deploying our proprietary tablets to underserved communities. But the next step in our evolution, we believe, will come through a software solution – namely, the LearnCloud, an online repository that allows students to access free educational content from any mobile device. Growing the community around this product will be crucial to its ultimate success. And we are convinced that Solve’s deep network of changemakers and community leaders will be invaluable in achieving these goals.
Our current partners:
Google (funder), Scotiabank (funder), Y-Combinator / Imagine K12 (funder), Boston Consulting Group (pro bono), UNICEF (client), Junior Achievement (client) + others.