October 2, 2014

Changemaker of the Week: Allison Kavanagh '13

posted by Swearer Center

Allison Kavanagh '13 works at the Rumie Initiative, a non-profit that delivers free educational content on low-cost tablets to kids around the world. 

Q: What is your current involvement with social innovation?
A: I manage operations and partnerships at the Rumie Initiative. We work to bring digital content taken for granted by people with internet to kids who don’t even have access to books, basically providing them with a library for the cost of a book.

We source our digital content from our LearnCloud, a web platform where everyone in the world can access and share free educational content. Teachers, tutors, students and parents can use this repository for their own studies, and an extra outcome of their using it is that they are helping us find the best content to deliver to kids in underserved or isolated communities!

I joined Rumie in early 2014 after meeting its founder and fellow Brown alum, Tariq Fancy ‘01, through the Brown network in Toronto. Tariq started Rumie in late 2013 after a career in finance, and I found its application of market-based solutions to social issues extremely promising and exciting.

Q: What is the most important lesson you've learned since starting your work with Rumie?
A: Value the input and initiative of the people you’re working with. I initiated a partnership between Rumie and a rehabilitation center for former child soldiers in Liberia, but because of Ebola their program was put on hold. Our partner decided to use their Rumie Tablets to teach kids in his neighborhood while they were out of school indefinitely. This turned out to be a major success and has let these kids keep learning.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to any college student thinking of becoming a "changemaker"? 
A: Be prepared to learn from other people and organizations. You won’t know how to do everything right away and you have to have this humility to be able to learn how to transition from the idealism of the liberal arts world to a more pragmatic mindset.

Q: What is your personal mission statement?
A: Believe in the process and the results will come. I don’t remember where I read that, but it’s applicable to so many things!

Q: What's one interesting fact people might not know about you?
A: I am a citizen of three countries!

If you know a Brown student or alum who is making a difference on campus, in Providence, or around the world, nominate them here to see them featured as Changemaker of the Week.