When it comes to opportunities in technology, hip-hop and rap artists seem to be ahead of the curve compared to fellow musicians. MC Hammer is well known for his appearances at tech conferences, may it be as a panelist, speaker and often main act at the afterparty. All of the major players in the rap business have some kind of commercial relationship with one or several tech brands. And then there is Dr Dre who just sold his headphone business to Apple and who will take on an executive role at the tech giant as the most recent and arguably most prominent example.
Therefore it makes sense that we are now seeing the first moves into education though, for now, most investments are not for profit oriented. Nas already is involved in the space through his commitment in General Assembly’s Opportunity Fund, he now invested a six-figure sum in a scholarship fund for higher education that also carries his name.
Seattle-based edtech startup Koru has received a $100,000 investment from rapper Nas to establish a special fund called the Nas Scholarship Fund. Nas made the investment through his investment company Queensbridge Venture Partners.
Koru previously raised $4.35 million in funding from Maveron, Battery Ventures, First Round Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. This brings the total investment raised by Koru to $4.56 million as reported by GeekWire.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 50 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.
Koru created an immersive, experiential education program launched in late 2013. The coaching program aims to help young college graduates to land their first job. Participants can practice the skills relevant in today’s workforce and learn from established executives in real-life work scenarios.
At the same time they start to build their professional network and thus get the chance to land a job interview and potentially be hired by a top company. Partner companies participating in the program include Smartsheet, REI, Julep, Zulily and others.
About his motivation to set up the scholarship fund Nas states
“I’m inspired to to support Koru participants because I know how hard it can be to carve out your path and purpose in life.”
He also wants to involve himself directly in identifying worthy students and coach these.
“I can’t wait to work directly with them and share what I’ve learned through my own life experiences.”
Two of the first recipients of the Nas Scholarship Fund have already been chosen. They are Steeve Simbert, a Georgetown University class of 2015 graduate with a major in Government, and Marixa Rodriguez, an Occidental University class of 2014 graduate with a double major in History and Spanish. Both will take part in the June program.
Koru’s 13 founding partner colleges include some renown institutions like Brown, University of Southern California, and Georgetown University among others. According to Forbes a total of 100 students completed the program, and Koru aims to double that number by the end of the summer. Currently all programs take place in Seattle, but Koru plans to offer classes in San Francisco after the summer reports billboard.
Koru’s monthlong programs come with a price tag of $2,750, and Koru decides on a case by case basis about the possibility for a scholarship. The startup also makes money when a student gets hired by a company affiliated with Koru as that company agrees to pay Koru a certain fee. This business model is very similar to what we currently see in tech education, i.e the Flatiron School operates the same business model for graduates of its coding classes.
This isn’t the first time we hear news from Nas in connection with an educational initiative. Just over a month ago EDUKWEST reported on the Opportunity Fund announced by General Assembly, a scholarship program in partnership with Microsoft, Google, Hirepurpose and Nas.
The Opportunity Fund offers generous scholarship funds to help veterans, women, and minorities become less underrepresented in the tech industry.
- Nas and Koru Team Up To Better Prepare Tomorrow’s Workforce | Forbes
- Hip hop icon Nas invests in education startup Koru, pledges support of grads | Geekwire
- Onvia co-founder raises $4.35M for Koru, helping college grads find impactful jobs | Geekwire
- Rapper partners with educational firm Koru to provide scholarships, real-world coaching for college grads. | Billboard