RACHEL - Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning

The most innovative technology solution for delivering free educational resources to developing communities
Jeremy Schwartz
San Francisco, California
United States
6 Team Members

The Most Innovative Technology Solution for Delivering Critical Educational Resources to Developing Communities

Around the world computers labs are sitting idle or unbuilt because the internet is unreliable and too costly for many.  In 2009, World Possible built RACHEL to provide digital educational content to those who really need it.  RACHEL is a prototype of a free offline digital library, a collection of leading educational resources, rebuilt as software that can be installed on any computer.  Today, we embark on a truly global endeavor to update and spread RACHEL.

RACHEL is a collection of leading educational websites, rebuilt offline, for use in communities without internet.  RACHEL content contains an encyclopedia (Wikipedia), video lectures (Khan Academy), textbooks (CK-12), educational games, coding programs, medical resources, and much more.  It is free to end users and delivered via a USB stick, which can be used to install the software on any number of computers.  When paired with a router, RACHEL creates community hotspots so any hardware device can access its centrally stored content.

The Impact

Our RACHEL prototype has spread to 26 countries and tens of thousands of users around the world.

Janice Lathen, working in Tanzania told the Christian Science Monitor:

"The students do not have a library, and although there is abundant educational content on the Internet, in order to access it schools need a fast, dependable Internet connection, and most schools in Tanzania do not have such a connection. That is why the RACHEL content is so important."

Daniel Stern, living and working in Uganda told the BBC World News: 

"We don't have one textbook per child here as you do in Europe.  The teacher will have the textbook and the students will copy what the teacher puts on the blackboard, so to suddenly have access to an offline Wikipedia where everything is immediately clickable, there's a very high level of engagement."

(1) Support Pioneers in the Field Using Existing RACHEL

Earlier this year, the RACHEL team came back together to build updated versions of our library software, but we need your help to get it distributed.  We need to outfit the nearly 100 confirmed installation partners across 26 countries with new content for them to spread in their communities, a costly task.  These people have dedicated their lives to educating those who need it most.  Time and again the feedback proves how valuable RACHEL has been.  Let's do our part to make sure they have the best content available.

Seth Owusu, from Liberia and Ghana to CNN:

"Thousands of children in villages in Ghana and Liberia are able to access vast contents of information without Internet connectivity.  It helps teachers with great materials. In community settings, children and adults are able to research information without paying money at an internet cafe with slow internet."

(2) Fulfill Wait-listed Requests for RACHEL

A wait-list nearly seventy names long grows every week as the cost of shipping has kept RACHEL from reaching many who need it most.

Esra Kavetu, a pre-med student in Namibia e-mailing World Possible (one of nearly 70 qualified people we can't afford to ship RACHEL to):

"I am going to start the offline Open Education Resources Revolution in Namibia. Right now I taught myself every basic thing there is to know about Routers, Home or Office Networking and Servers. I am planning to maybe install it at a Hospital Center for long term Children Patients living with cancer. During treatment they spend a lot of time away from school so this OERs (Open Educational Resources; RACHEL's content) will be of help. And another school far away deep in the rural village is also interested and I am just waiting for all this people to give me the green light and I am hoping by then the RACHEL Content has reached me."

(3) Support Proactive RACHEL Spread in English and Spanish

In October of this year the World Possible team also created RACHEL in Espanol.  The first offline digital library dedicated to Spanish speakers.  To leverage our work, we've found in-country volunteers with technical experience that want to spread RACHEL, but they need our help.  Help us outfit them, and other major international groups, with the equipment they need to spread RACHEL.

Riecken Community Libraries report on World Possible Volunteer Norberto Mujica's trip to volunteer in Guatemala:

"The possibilities are limitless: books, training videos, health videos, games, etc.  Finding and customizing the appropriate content will be an endless journey.  Many of us have been very excited about its possibilities.  It is not only for students.  For example, illiterate library users could be introduced to educational videos.  We can and should be seeking suitable content to add to RACHEL for our uses."

(Norberto in Guatemala pictured below, that hat/glasses combo adds ten years)

Other Ways You Can Help

World Possible is building more than a charity, we are building a global network of educators focused on helping those who need it most.  Though we critically need money to support the framework, we also need you getting involved:

  • Help spread the word about RACHEL. Connected to international aid organizations?  Let us know!
  • Donate old laptops!  We'll refurbish them and get them to field partners who need new hardware.  (info@worldpossible.org)
  • Donate new hardware (XO tablets are preferred).  (info@worldpossible.org)
  • Travelling abroad?  Let us know, we may have a need for RACHEL in your community
  • Follow us on facebook, twitter, or through our newsletter.  

Stretch Goals

  • $10,000 keeps the lights on for a few more months and helps us make sure new RACHEL gets spread
  • $25,000 means we can build an infrastructure and volunteer team for ongoing updates and content collection
  • $50,000 we can maintain one underpaid staffer, supporting a volunteer network of dozens of individuals who want to build and deploy and even better RACHEL.
  • $100,000 we can maintain a full-time staffer to focus on spreading RACHEL, and building a web portal to collect locally created materials from our field partners around the globe.  We'd be collecting the largest digital library from communities that have no access to the internet, the printing press, or recorded history to date.

Most of all, thank you for your support, kind words, and dedication to helping us spread educational resources to those who need them most.

- The World Possible Team!

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This campaign ended on December 20, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $24USD
    Sustaining Donor

    World Possible sustaining donor - listed on our website as $2/ month sustaining donor. All rewards are tax deductible.

    7 claimed
  • $55USD
    Sponsor a RACHEL Update

    Locations served by USPS require less funding (shipping at $25 flat-rate). Nearly one-third of RACHEL deployments are reliably served by USPS.

    2 out of 35 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $100USD
    Half a 'Hard to Reach' RACHEL

    Sponsor half the cost of delivery to a region that is hard to reach. RACHEL benefits most those who can access it least. FedEx and DHL reach all corners of the globe, but at a cost of nearly $120 in shipping. We will send a RACHEL to waitlisted users for you to track, ranging from Namibia, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, and more.

    3 out of 60 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $200USD
    'Hard to Reach' RACHEL

    Sponsor the full cost of delivery to a region that is hard to reach. RACHEL benefits most those who can access it least. FedEx and DHL reach all corners of the globe, but at a cost of nearly $120 in shipping. We will send a RACHEL to waitlisted users for you to track, ranging from Namibia, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, and more.

    0 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $350USD
    Sponsor a RACHEL Pi Server

    RACHEL software works on any computer with some technical assistance. Many users have none though and they require something even easier to use. Our dedicated server based on a Raspberry Pi computer provides plug-and-play solutions to access RACHEL. We'll ship one to a community in need for you to track.

    0 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $2,000USD
    Add to RACHEL Content

    Choose an educational content package for us to offer in RACHEL. Our volunteer developers can take nearly any creative commons licensed content offline, pick one you feel passionate about and we will make it available to tens of thousands around the globe, free and offline. English or Spanish.

    1 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2014
  • $5,000USD
    Outfit an In-Country Advocate

    Outfit an In-Country Advocate. Our global of volunteer advocates keeps growing. We will outfit an in-country volunteer to travel throughout his or her community delivering and supporting RACHEL. You can skype with your advocate and better understand plans for deploying RACHEL in each country they work in.

    0 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2014
  • $10,000USD
    Bring Help to a Community

    Sponsor a World Possible volunteer trip to the community of your choice. One World Possible volunteer will be flown to the city of your choice to help outfit, network, and teach local residents how to use RACHEL and enhance its spread. Please contact us first. World Possible volunteers have dozens of years of computer and networking expertise.

    0 out of 2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2014
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