Soraya Fouladi Is Putting Education In Children’s Hands—Literally

Some CEOs are born, and some CEOs are made. Soraya Fouladi belongs in the former category. Born and raised in New York City, Fouladi says that she made the decision as a teenager that her life's mission would be to ensure that “every single child on this planet gets a chance at a quality education so that they can live their best life.”

Fouladi attended the United Nations International School in New York, where she developed the belief early that the biggest global challenges can be addressed by providing children with quality education. Now, as CEO of Jara, Fouladi is making her vision a reality.

Jara is an international organization that provides emergency education to displaced and refugee children. The coalition focuses its mission on kids who do not have access to quality education due to natural disasters and conflict.

Fouladi's globally-minded innovation has earned her a spot among the finalists for the "1850™ Bold Pioneers Contest." Back in August, the Company set out on a quest to find upstart visionaries with bold ideas that needed funding. This young humanitarian is one of three finalists in the running to win a $18,500 grant, along with a mentoring session with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Educational programming from Jara is delivered through the Jara Unit, a low-cost, hand-held educational device invented by the organization. The device can be used anytime, anywhere — even in unstable and improvised environments. It uses very basic technology, which is of crucial importance in disaster zones, as it does not require any pre-existing infrastructure. The device is designed to run on solar and crank power, making it usable in even the direst conditions.

"Jara" means "root" in the Nepali language, which is meant to signal the company’s investment in keeping educational content culturally relevant and accessible for young users. The Jara Device also contains geographically customized content, updatable through IoT (internet of things) technology. To ensure that their curriculum is contextual, Jara partners with local digital content creators to follow official curriculums in the respective geographic region.

Formally trained as an electrical engineer, Fouladi is leveraging her technical expertise along with her desire to change young lives for the better. Her engineering experience includes designing and manufacturing electronics that augment the human body, including prosthetics and wearables. Her educational experience includes designing a curriculum for a K-12 robotics program.

Recognizing her own privilege relative to those Jara is designed to help, Fouladi says, “having a chance at living this life is a huge gift, and I found it extremely and painfully unfair that the situation people are born into so often determines their future.”

“I set off to design my life to one day start this business. And here we are, 8 years later, making this a reality so that we all, as a world, can rise together.”

Want to support Soraya Fouladi and her work with Jara? Watch her and other 1850™ Bold Pioneers contestants pitch their business ideas. Visit the 1850™ Bold Pioneers Contest site now through December 3rd to cast your vote for the best presentation!

This article is sponsored by 1850™ Brand Coffee.