Nepris CEO Discusses Reimagining Education through the Strength of Weak Ties

When there are strong connections between businesses and schools, students effectively prepare for sustainable careers that they love. There are many examples of these connections happening around the globe and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted new innovative ways for schools and businesses to connect. Here are a few highlights from Sabari Raja, a CEO whose company is innovating to offer summer camps that help parents to keep students engaged as they learn about cool careers.

Pic Nepris CEO

Sabari Raja, CEO Nepris, Inc.

The world is forever grateful for Sabari Raja, CEO and Co-Founder of Nepris, Inc. whose company has positively impacted over 450,000 students by bringing real-world relevance and digital career exposure into the classroom.

Sabari discussed sociologist Mark Granovetter’s work on the strength of weak ties during her TedTalk this past April. She explained how weak ties diffuse information through the network, which helps learning and development. Weak ties provide access to new ideas that inspire questions, engagement, and a deeper understanding about, in this case, careers and industry.  Nepris uses Granovetter’s philosophy to connect students to learning opportunities with experts in fun and engaging ways. This media platform allows educators to work with industry to access subject matter experts that engage with students so they can learn about emerging careers.

Sabari’s innovative solution is fundamentally changing the work-learn ecosystem by providing opportunities for students to discover career opportunities that they may not have known existed.  Nepris, Inc. engages with students typically through the classroom experience, but this summer they are offering a new opportunity for home-based engagement to aid families impacted by COVID-19 by offering summer camps. The weak ties developed through these fun learning experiences will inspire and develop camp goers’ career understanding so that they can reach beyond their local environment and circumstances. These engagements inspire hope and a sense of belonging, as we continue to social distance. 

Sabari understands the value of stepping out of her comfort zone and connecting with people around the world. She had a choice to stay in her small town in India and to only be influenced by her inherited network, but luckily for the world, she understood the value of connections in helping her to live her best life. Sabari says “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue my passion while creating social impact …success automatically follows when you are doing the things you believe in and giving it your 100%.” She is helping to create a connection to industry beyond the classroom by creating a cultural shift that illustrates the positive social impact that Nepris has on education and student development.

The success that Nepris, Inc is experiencing did not happen overnight. There were many challenges that Sabari faced. She says “After a year of trying to build a product and a market, it didn’t get off the ground.  I had to shut it down. It was the most difficult year of my professional career because you start questioning every decision but now that I look back that year is when I learned my most valuable lessons about entrepreneurship that I was able to apply to starting Nepris.” 

Sabari feels compelled to engage with other entrepreneurs because she believes they have empathy about how difficult and rewarding entrepreneurship is as a career pathway. She also sees entrepreneurial leadership being infused into schools. Some schools offer the opportunity to use critical thinking to help to solve business problems. Sabari is in support of reimagining education in this way.  She believes Cajon Valley Unified (CVU),  a K-8 school district in San Diego, “has done a great job of integrating career exposure and real world connections into students’ everyday learning experiences.” Because of their real-world learning framework, CVU quickly developed digital resources for families so they can continue the virtual connection between workforce and education from home during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Virtual learning organizations have stepped up to aid traditional schools during the crisis. Sabari indicated that Nepris partners with K12, Inc., and she believes they “…have gone above and beyond” to offer access to all types of experiential learning programs to students across the country.” K12 developed an entire suite of online and blended educational services and curriculum to ensure impactful learning continues at a distance.

It is clear from this research that it is critically important to continue to identify ways that society can reimagine education through digital engagement and the utilization of the strength of weak ties to guide collaboration between businesses and learning environments. 


National Challenge: 90 Days to a Career-Ready America

Dream2Career challenges educational leaders to participate in 90 Days to a Career-Ready America. Schools and businesses that offer online experiences like webinars, courses, certificates, badges, degree programs, activities, virtual tours, educational games, learning communities, presentations, camps, educational kits, internships, mentorships, scholarships, incubators, or events for students of any age or ability, can post these experiences in a new way.  Dream2Career quickly connects learning experiences with the appropriate types of students based on their individual interest profiles.

Access to information has become a challenge because there is so much of it. Many organizations are posting lists of online learning resources for students. This is helpful, yet it takes too long for students and parents read through and check each website regarding all the of opportunities on the list, most of which do not apply to each unique circumstance.  These lists are all encompassing and consequently, poorly match to what each specific the learner is trying to achieve. Dream2Career filters learning experiences based on the user’s interests so students can quickly find the relevant information to immediately begin the learning process that matches their interests and aspirations.

Dream2Career is a women-led tech startup that developed a platform for schools and businesses to post online learning experiences in a student-focused way. Students, parents, educators, and career seekers need a resource that quickly matches needs and interests to the appropriate learning on-ramps. Using a unique algorithm, the platform integrates users interests and filters them through the Department of Education’s career clusters making it easy for users to receive only relevant learning experiences.

Some of the Best Planning Occurs in “Captivation”

Because of “shelter in place” rules, families are going to want to find tools that are useful in finding quality experiences to do at home. This unusual form of confinement offers individuals time to plan for their dream life and the best free tool to help families with this process is Dream2Career. NPR followed a group of inmates who completed degrees in prison and found that the learning experiences were able to inspire hope by making the time in confinement easier and more productive.  It is important to be able to see beyond our “incarceration” to life after this horrible pandemic. Using this newly found time to learn and to grow will inspire new ideas and it will create opportunities for a more promising future.

When we learn about things that interest us, innovation and prosperity await us on other side of this national disaster. Students, parents, mentors, and educators can register for free and we will email learning experiences that match the completed interest profile.

If you are a business or a school post learning experiences and help communities to find and prepare for dream careers.

Rudy Ruiz: Leading K-20 Visionary

It is an exciting time to be working in the education industry because solutions are emerging that are bringing opportunity to schools across the nation. One of the reasons for this innovation boom is because of great educational leaders, like Rudy Ruiz. By spearheading these efforts, Ruiz is making a difference in his home state of Maryland and these visionary solutions are being replicated in other states, which is positively impacting a growing number of student success stories.

Visionary Leader in Education

Visionary Leader in Education, Rudy Ruiz

Rudy Ruiz is a Partner at FourPoint Education Partners and the former Chief Education Officer of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education. He and his team developed an amazing student-focused mobile app called Way to Be. This innovative solution helps students learn from experts about high demand and emerging industries and it helps them to find on-ramps that match their interests to aspirational careers. This app is being adopted by the Maryland School Districts and is currently being upgraded to include relevant information that applies to other states. This project is one of many that Ruiz has on his agenda for bringing access and opportunity to students across that nation.

Because of his experiences and his background, Rudy is on a mission to make the world a better place.  He is particularly interested in helping to inspire disadvantaged youth because he personally experienced opportunities and challenges that shaped his beliefs, while growing up in a poor minority neighborhood in Milwaukee.  He was fortunate to have a strong family full of love that supported him, even during the most difficult times. He says, “I have spent the past 18 years in the classroom, in school leadership, in district leadership, in state leadership, and now supporting communities nationally, to close these equity gaps in access and opportunity to high-quality educational experiences and outcomes.” His experiences and personal understanding of their struggles, gives him the strength and tenacity to continue pushing forward. His ability to endure, while continuing to reaffirm his beliefs, are what bring about innovation and progress.

One can’t help but to be inspired by his passion and get-it-done attitude.  Rudy Ruiz is a true visionary who continues to enhance the world of education for the next generation.

College to Career: Fieldr is Making it Happen!



College to career is the dream for most parents, educators, and students. Unfortunately, times have changed, and it is a little more complicated for recent college graduates to qualify to enter the workforce. Today, businesses seek industry experience even for entry-level positions. Business professionals from all major industries agree that students who lack job experience are less likely to be hired because the skills gap ultimately hurts their bottom line. Therefore, it is critical that students find opportunities to gain experience through internships, volunteering, and other experiential learning pathways.

Going to job boards does not give users relevant information about learning on-ramps. As an emerging career seeker, it is recommended to use an intermediary platform that connects businesses and students, who agree regarding this new training phase of “work-learn”, which occurs prior to acquisition of an entry-level career.

Students need to be able to create a profile and connect with work-based learning jobs for those businesses that want to help with this new phase in the educational process., a Florida-based startup, is offering businesses and students the opportunity to use their new software solution, which achieves this connection, for free. The platform is designed so that students can quickly match, communicate, and send documents that facilitate the relationship with businesses willing to take on these apprentices. Fieldr helps students to gain knowledge and experiences enhancing the opportunity of ultimately getting hired for their dream career. Consequently, students learn what it is like to work in industry and they can quickly choose a different learning pathway should the chosen field fall short of expectations.

This early misfit realization is good for the student and the industry. In the long run, industries that choose to participate in work-learn programs will see an increase in qualified candidates who are ready and interested in working for their firms. For the businesses who choose to work with Fieldr, they will be able to eliminate the skills gap, reduce hiring costs by increasing retention and create a positive work environment for all employees.

Dream2Career  talked with Connor Firmender, Co-Founder & CEO of Fieldr and he believes that learning engagements like internships, project-based or work-based learning, part-time jobs, and service learning are “the building blocks to college and career readiness”  His company is dedicated to providing the “education side of readiness” and they are developing a Fieldr Academy for high school students to earn career-related credentials that will launch in early 2021. 

Firmender, even as a student, was quick to realize that gaining experience while in college was a challenge. Because of his interest in solving a real-world problem, he has been able to develop quality relationships and support from chambers of commerce, economic development offices, college career centers, district career and technical education departments who have helped to bring his concept to fruition. It is exciting for Dream2Career to work with another socially responsible solution that helps to connect students to opportunities that they may not have known existed, that helps schools do what they do best, and that fixes the skills gap for businesses. 

Let’s help more students find and prepare for dream careers. Tell us below what your organization is doing to support the work-learn engagements.

Finding Your Career Signal In the Noise

Before technology we were better at putting information in its place. When you went to the library, you could find books by author, title, or subject. This made finding information organized but limited to content you could obtain within your traveling distance.  I remember going to the University of Scranton’s Library, a 20-minute drive, because they had a book share program with my high school. At that time, you had to be motivated to find content for your research papers, some of my classmates even traveled to Philadelphia.

Today, information is everywhere. We are overwhelmed by messages about everything which makes us very stressed. It is impossible to find the signal in the noise.  You can read more about this concept in a book called The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t by Nate Silver. He’s a math genius but writes in a way that anyone can read and understand.

Search engines use keywords or subjects similar to card catalogs of the past. However, search engines include information found on over 1.7 Billion websites, not to mention linkages to all of the social media content that exists on the internet. Search engines are helpful if you need a specific piece of information like an address or office hours for a company.  Other than that, the only information that can effectively be found through search engines are ads trying to sell the “deal of the century”.  Search engines might seem similar to the card catalogs of the past, but after closer observation they are quite different. No one is getting smarter, feeling more connected, or being inspired by quality researched information found using search engines.

Some technologies have helped to organize information in useful ways, two of these are Amazon and ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft. These platforms work because you are going to them, like the card catalog of the past, for a specific purpose. If you want to purchase an item you consult the Amazon website and quickly find the information you seek. If you need a ride, ride share transactions take place, in a functional way, because everyone knows where to find the specific transportation information needed.

Unfortunately, this matching of need with solution does not happen for education. There  are so many different types of programs and learning opportunities, traditional and non-traditional pathways, certificates, badges, camps, hackathons, apprenticeships, internships, incubators, scholarships, etc. that students can’t easily find the best learning program for them. This results in students wasting hours of time researching, using dreaded search engines, to find work and career learning information on the web. Educational institutions are forced to spend too much money buying keywords that result in no additional prospective student views of their educational programs.  If only there was a specific card catalog for education that organized information, in a specific way, where learning experiences could be found based on location and career aspirations.

Imagine a world where learning experiences were organized based on interests and made recommendations of similar learning opportunities. How cool would this solution be? Enter the keywords or searchable fields organized into six mega clusters, and have access to local events and programs that put students, parents, educators and career-seekers on pathways to success. No longer would there be a need to find the company and then hope they have a learning program for you to get your foot in the door. No longer would there be a need to pick a school and then hope they have your major or program of interest. No longer would families struggle to find fun and educational places to go and things to do together. Communities would begin to work on discovering, growing, and thriving as they work towards a common goal–Prosperity through education and connection!

Dream2Career is developing this type of solution, where you can find categories of interest and quickly locate learning on-ramps and experiences. Visit our developing website at or sign up today to receive updates about learning experiences matching your interests. We are hard at work designing Edu-Advisor the app, until then, subscribe here to learn more about this project and start living your dream life.