Building Skills for the Global Economy: A Lean, Mentor-Based Approach for the Most Marginalized Parts of the World

We are creating an innovative, scalable model for leveraging free online curriculum & local mentors to empower the next generation.

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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Amanda Forbes, Ph.D.

Initiative's representative date of birth

September 1, 1987

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • USA

Where are you making a difference?

Port-au-Prince, Haiti Nairobi, Kenya Kigali, Rwanda Port Elizabeth, South Africa Worcester, SA

Website or social media url(s)

When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce
  • Creating digital tools

Project Stage

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $100k - $250k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

I've been involved in this work since 2012, but my personal "aha" moment came more recently. I came across an article about Christine Saas (founder of the coding program in Africa called Andela) and she had a profound insight about her "aha" moment: she wasn't in the education industry (which she thought she was part of), but was really in the employment industry (because education without a pathway to employment means very little to people). That approach has filtered into the way Trinity Education now approaches our work, as employability needs to be much more at the forefront of our model and we have been taking steps to help our students find employment after their education with Trinity.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

We are solving the problem of young people not being aware of all the employment opportunities that are available to them through the remote economy. Changes in people's mindsets often happen slowly, but changes in the global economy have been happening rapidly. We are working to build awareness about these global changes and, most importantly, prepare talent from developing countries to use their skills for remote work.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

1. Curate high-quality, freely-available online curriculum for diverse learners and organize it on a learning management system 2. Add project-based, active learning strategies to the free curriculum content 3. Utilize locally available resources/personnel to offer the program in contexts of poverty (i.e., local facilitators, a venue in the community, etc.) 4. Provide free training to local leaders who desire to start a blended learning program that utilizes free curriculum and local resources 5. Invite learners from the community to join the program and empower them to be online learners (with face-to-face support) 6. Incorporate community service and character formation activities 7. Provide professional feedback to students from remote evaluators (when such expertise is not provided locally) 8. Monitor and track student progress on the learning management system 9. Students earn a certificate of distinction/completion when they meet the graduation standards 10. Students use their new skills in their own business or have the opportunity to learn how to become online freelancers

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

We are creating social entrepreneurs in communities around the world by preparing local leaders to launch their own blended learning program. The medium is the message in our training approach, as they experience a mentored, online learning model that prepares them to start their own digital training program in which they mentor young people and teach them how to become online learners. These students then go on to learn new digital skills that they can use locally or in the online global economy, or even start their own blended learning program in a different location. We have one South African graduate who is planning to become a Trinity facilitator and has also been involved in online freelancing work, & we hope to see others like him!

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

The 2018 Skills Gap Study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute identifies five major skills for success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and among these five competencies are computer skills, digital literacy and competence, and critical thinking. Trinity focuses on these areas by using blended learning in local communities around the world to teach more advanced computer skills, increasing digital literacy and competence, and encouraging students to think critically throughout the process. Even if the specific job skills of the future change, students walk away from Trinity's programs equipped with foundational computer and critical thinking skills that they can take with them into any future endeavor.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

The skills of today are likely not the skills that will be needed tomorrow. That's why it's so important that our students "learn how to learn" through online methodologies. That is the first essential skill our organization is teaching, and this is measured as we monitor students' success with online course assignments. The other important skills we teach include basic coding (HTML/CSS), design theory, web design (WordPress), digital marketing, office administration, and entrepreneurship (lean startup methods).

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Trinity has learned so much from other social innovators involved in similar work! I already mentioned Christine Saas with Andela, and the late Leila Janah of SamaSchool is another inspiration. We've also visited with the Akilah Institute in Kigali, CloudFactory in Nairobi, and Kepler (also in Kigali). University of the People has been another favorite innovator in this space and we've had several of our students go on to study there. Trinity's approach differs from these innovators, though, because we rely on a highly lean model that enables our programs to be taken anywhere in the world.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Over the course of our existence, we've been able to train a few hundred students and/or leaders in diverse places such as Peru, Ethiopia, and Myanmar. Our third program was started in a tent with chickens wandering around inside (Tanzania) and our first program was born in a desperately poor slum of Nairobi called Soweto. These were difficult places to operate a blended learning program and were not always met with success, but they represent Trinity's heart to go to the most dire places of need and expose youth to a high-quality learning experience. We are seeing some of our past students start their own business, find local employment, be trained as a Trinity facilitator, or learn to become freelancers. My favorite impact, though, is when students begin to see the world differently because of our program, such as taking better care of the environment or the need to treat women better

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We are donor funded and have had amazing support from a variety of small and large donors. Our donors have largely sustained Trinity's central operating expenses so that we can support the launch of local programs around the world. We rely on local ownership and sustainability, which means that local programs aren't dependent on Trinity. This is so important for the scalability of our work over the long term. Sometimes we provide small forms of support for local partners such as finding computer donations or supporting the first month of internet expenses, but by and large we encourage local ownership. Trinity does collect a small fee from our partners once they have income from their programs, but our costs are primarily covered by donors.

10. Team

Amanda Forbes, Ph.D. - Executive Director (Full-time, doctorate in international development and education, co-founder of the organization) Sherry Boyd - Support Staff (Part-time, former teacher) Bob Moffitt, Ph.D. - President and Board Chair (Volunteer, co-founder of Trinity, director of his own international organization) Barak Moffitt, Dr. Phil Burgess, Dr. Bob Osburn - Board Members I foresee the need to hire additional administrative/support staff as we grow.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation:

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2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

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3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

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4. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

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6. FEEDBACK: Highlights

IMPACT POTENTIAL: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) – and you have a concrete plan for future impact. You have specific tools for measuring impact. - 0%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful solutions - 100%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work operationally and financially in the present and future; your plan is specific and you value sustainability. - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You have a good plan on how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 100%

Other option - 100%

7. FEEDBACK: Areas for Improvement

IMPACT POTENTIAL: make sure to provide specific instances of your social impact (or how you plan to measure impact) – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, the main activities/products, and provide evidence of (or plan for) impact evaluation - 100%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: make sure to describe how your solution is unique and innovative – it is helpful to include the research you have done on past solutions and how your solution is different from (and/or builds upon) these. - 0%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: make sure you describe your plan for how to empower others to become changemakers through your programming, service, or product - 0%

WRITING STYLE. Try to be concise, descriptive, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

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