Five years is a long time!
Since 2016, The Walking School Bus has provided access to education for the learners who need it most. Working in collaboration with our partner communities in Uganda and India, we are proud to have positively impacted 37,000 students through our BrightBox solar classroom installations and research projects.
Over this time, we’ve learned so much from our communities, volunteers, researchers, and implementing partners. We’ve developed a deep understanding of the challenges facing students in remote regions, from restricted access to textbooks and unmanageable class sizes to a complete lack of electricity and lighting in classrooms.
As a result, we’ve come to realize something about The Walking School Bus’s original approach: while our school bus model was successful in helping students get to school, we could do a lot more to help students once they reach the classroom.
Our underpinning value has always been Impact First, meaning that we continually look for how and where we can make the most positive impact. Focusing on supporting school infrastructure with our solar-powered BrightBox solutions lets us use the full potential of our technology — a potential that others have begun to notice, too.
Learn more about our partnerships with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Prime Minister’s Office of Uganda, and National Geographic.
Through in-depth conversations with our community partners, our operating arms in both Uganda and India, and based on the results we are seeing through our research projects, we have made the decision to concentrate on installing more BrightBoxes, strengthening our Think Tank research projects, and more deeply integrating Simbi, a Reading While Listening literacy software originally created by our team of tech enthusiasts, and now established as a separate entity, increasing the impact potential of enhanced literacy for readers globally.
So what’s the problem?
Well, the name ‘The Walking School Bus’ no longer aligned with the work that we do, nor did it reflect the philosophy and approach we take in collaborating with our partner communities.
We’ve been thinking a lot about the way we work and its roots in symbiosis — the very same word behind the Simbi literacy-boosting software that’s used by 50,000 readers around the world.
Symbiosis (noun): ‘the mutually-beneficial and collaborative relationship between different organisms, people, or groups.’
‘Symbiosis’ can refer to many things, from the way that animals work together, to the lifecycle of organisms like lichen. For us, symbiosis perfectly describes the mutually beneficial relationships created by our technologies and partners.
Whether it’s our Think Tank, our Research Expeditions, our BrightBoxes, or our collaborative approach with our partner communities, our work is rooted in a symbiosis, which sees communities learning from each other and cooperating to make positive change.
We strongly believe that Simbi-osis is critical in tackling the current barriers to learning, in ensuring community voices are upheld, and in supporting the next 3.5 million learners as they navigate their education.
That’s why The Walking School Bus is now Simbi Foundation.
Our vision is unchanged. We’re still striving for a world where every learner has access to the quality education resources needed for a brighter future — it’s just that our vehicle for that journey is no longer a bus.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be reaching out with more content on what this transition means for Simbi Foundation, and how we plan to continue improving access to education. Stay up to date by following our social channels, or reach out to us with a specific question.
Thanks for reading and talk to you soon!
Aaron Friedland & Ran Sommer
Executive Director & Director of Operations.