Ed tech startup Nepris is leveraging virtual connectivity technologies to bring industry experts into the classroom.
“Nepris brings the world to every student no matter where they live or what their socioeconomic barriers are,” says Sabari Raja, CEO and co-founder of Nepris. “A student in rural Texas gets to talk with a neurosurgeon from New York, a botanist from Scotland, and an animator from Russia.”
Headquartered in Plano, Nepris aims to inspire a new generation of leaders for the fields of science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts (STEAM). To read a Q&A with Raja, please go here.
“We have millions of professionals out there who have the skills to bring relevance to students and inspire them towards exciting careers. Nepris makes it possible to connect them to the right classrooms,” Raja says.
Educators can use Nepris to request professionals or subject-matter experts to connect virtually with classrooms to provide a real life voice on what students are learning in books and lectures. Nepris then matches an educator’s request with one of the thousands of professionals registered within their system. All of this occurs automatically and without anyone having to pack up presentation materials and drive to a school, giving busy professionals an opportunity to impact kids without being gone from work.
“For educators who typically do not have access to diverse network professionals, Nepris becomes a hub to find and connect virtually their students to role models and experts,” Raja says,
Inspiring tomorrow’s leaders
Fifty-seven percent of boys and 68 percent of girls who go on to choose a technology driven career say one person, event, or class inspired them during their middle or high school years, according to Microsoft’s STEM Perceptions study. Yet, a vast majority of today’s students are not given opportunities for inspiration through role models currently working in the STEM fields. Nepris is changing that.
“Students get to see and interact with professionals in STEM and the Arts through Nepris. Those opportunities have the potential to change their lives and open doors to a path in life they might not have considered,” Raja says. “Today we have over 25,000 teachers and nearly 7,000 professionals in the platform connecting and collaborating.”
Launched in March 2013, Nepris has since significantly expanded the reach of its impact. Today, DFW schools in Richardson ISD, Highland Park ISD, Irving, ISD, Mansfield ISD, Rockwall ISD, Royse City ISD, Plano ISD, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Region 11, and the Parish Episcopal School are using Nepris to connect students with leading industry professionals.
“I really think the great equalizer for equity with children is experiences. Experiences bridge that gap to give them opportunities to know what is out there.” _ Kelly Margot, Royce City gifted specialist
“I really think the great equalizer for equity with children is experiences. Experiences bridge that gap to give them opportunities to know what is out there,” says Kelly Margot, a gifted specialist at Royse City ISD’s Fort Elementary who has used Nepris with her students. “Nepris is an amazing tool that allows us, as educators, to bring experiences with the world into the classroom.”
The emerging ed tech company is also growing its partnerships. The Dallas World Affairs Council, HKS Architecture, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Alliance Data, Frito Lay, General Motors (NYSE: GM), and Callison Architecture are among the many organizations and companies whose employees regularly volunteer to connect with classrooms through Nepris.
“The World Affairs Council offers a variety of free programs for teachers and students to attend, but there are limitations on how often and when teachers and students can leave their classrooms. With that in mind, we partnered with Nepris to provide free classroom videoconferences to teachers,” says Amy Miller, manager of international education programs for the World Affairs Council. “In the past year, we have offered 10 videoconference sessions and all feedback has been positive. We look forward to continuing to work with Nepris in 2016.”
To date, Nepris has won more than nine education innovation awards including the Bluprint Award for Education Catalyst of 2015 awarded by the Dallas Chamber.
From Coconut Farm to Texas Instruments
Raja’s own upbringing has helped inform her mission to connect students with professionals from across the world.
“I grew up on a coconut farm in rural south India, surrounded by nature, waking up to wailing peacocks, and plucking mangoes right from the tree. It was a wonderful way to grow up but there was one problem, the nearest good school was fifty miles away.” _ Sabari Raja.
“I grew up on a coconut farm in rural south India, surrounded by nature, waking up to wailing peacocks, and plucking mangoes right from the tree. It was a wonderful way to grow up but there was one problem, the nearest good school was fifty miles away,” Raja says.
When Raja was 5 years old, her parents sent her to boarding school.
“That was the only way I would get a good education and see potential beyond the farm,” Raja says.
Following her boarding school years, Raja went on to receive her bachelor in electrical engineering from Coimbatore, India. She then came to America, and received a masters degree in computer science from Louisiana State University and an Executive MBA from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and then worked at Texas Instruments, where she was introduced to world of ed tech.
“I have not left ed tech since because I love the fact that we are making an impact on students lives everyday while building innovative technology solutions,” Raja says. “I have the best of both worlds.”
Want to learn more about Sabari Raja and Nepris? Check out our interview with the ed tech CEO here.
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