TORONTO, Dec. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Riipen, developer of a popular platform that enables students at postsecondary institutions to connect with real-world projects from companies, today announced a $3.75 million (USD) investment from impact investors Reach Capital, along with Strada Education Network, SEI Ventures, EduLab Capital Partners, Entangled Group, Atrium, and ASU ScaleU. Founded by undergraduate students in 2015, Riipen now serves more than 5,000 employers and 40,000 students at 150 colleges and universities globally.
“We know that students at Arizona State University identify applied learning as a key part of their transformative educational experience,”said Kevin Burns, senior director of Strategic initiatives at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business. “Knowing this, we are actively looking for ways in which we can build more applied learning into our students’ journey.”
“The opportunity to scale project-based learning with Riipen at the largest public research university in the nation holds great promise,” said Sukhwant Jhaj, Arizona State University vice provost for academic innovation and student achievement. “We value the opportunity to test the tool and look forward to seeing the results of this unique effort.”
According to recent research from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work, nearly two-thirds of recent graduates are now underemployed (working in jobs that don’t require a degree). The challenge stems, in part, from the fact that corporate executives often view college graduates as unprepared to apply what they know within an increasingly dynamic world of work. Research also suggests that a lack of access to real-world experiences, such as internships, may actually perpetuate equity gaps in the workplace. Low-income and minority students often cannot participate in internships at the same rates as their wealthier and better-connected peers.
Riipen’s unique platform does more than simply match college and university students with employer projects, enabling faculty to embed employer-created projects into courses and activities. Employers, from IBM to the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, have used the platform to conduct research on emerging markets, build their talent pipelines, and strengthen their brand among students and young professionals.
“Project-based, real-world experience has a profound impact on students. But this kind of experience is out of reach for too many of them,” said Dana Stephenson, founder and CEO of Riipen. “To address this problem, we created Riipen to change the relationship between educational institutions and employers. Riipen is a powerful, proven platform that enables companies to rapidly identify and recruit students to work on projects. Working with Riipen, educational institutions can better serve students by getting them the experience that they need—now.”
Riipen is enabling transformative opportunities for companies to collaborate with post-secondary students on real-time, real-world challenges that are embedded directly into coursework. To date, Riipen has enabled 40,000 students at 150+ post-secondary schools to do 1.5 million hours of applied learning with 5,000 companies. Their mission: to help students of all backgrounds and geographies to boost their skills, gain career clarity, network, and find jobs they love.