Fast Company announces two IRC projects as World Changing Ideas

3 min readApr 28, 2020


We’re excited to announce that two IRC projects are honored in Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas.

Pop-Up Learning, a computer-assisted learning program, is a finalist in the Education category.

Martha Edu, an interactive visual education tool for children with hearing disabilities, received an honorable mention in the Best World Changing Idea Overall — Europe, Middle East, Africa category

World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With a goal of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

Read more about the award on

About Pop-Up Learning

Pop-Up Learning is an education program that puts evidence-based software in the hands of children who need it the most, enabling them to gain foundational numeracy and literacy skills without the need for a skilled teacher to guide them.

Pop-Up Learning provides children with an opportunity to learn through a localized, tablet-based education that fosters emotional support, literacy and numeracy for primary school-aged learners. The software adapts to the varying educational levels of displaced children, and its low cost and flexibility enables implementation in homes, centers, and schools. Learning can happen anywhere, at anytime. The software is interactive and guides children through their learning, with light touch support from facilitators who are often illiterate or under-educated themselves. There is no need for educational expertise, which can be difficult to find in crisis contexts.

In November 2019, the Airbel Impact Lab teamed up with Can’t Wait to Learn (War Child), and Kitkit School (Enuma), to pilot the program with the Rohingya Community in Bangladesh, where over 380,000 Rohyinga children don’t have access to learning opportunities. Our pilot included 600 Rohingya children, with the goal of creating a replicable delivery model for child-centered, tech-enabled learning that can be deployed within eight weeks of crisis.

The original Pop-Up donor cohort consists of individuals from Silicon Valley and San Francisco firms and academic institutions who provided seed capital. Spring Point partners provided flexible funding for Airbel’s education work, which enabled the pilot work of Pop-Up. Imagine Worldwide provided technical support, ongoing advice and funding for the localization of the KitKit School software. The Kovner Foundation has invested flexible funding over five years to Airbel’s research and innovation portfolio, including the work of Pop-Up. The Arnhold Foundation has invested flexible funding over five years to Airbel’s research and innovation portfolio, including the work of Pop-Up. Learn more.

About Martha Edu

Developed by Syrian refugees and Jordanians through the Mahali Community Innovation Lab at the IRC, Martha is an interactive, home-based visual education tool for children with hearing disabilities, enabling them to read and write in formal sign language and Arabic. Martha is the only home learning solution for deaf children ages 2 to 5 in Jordan. This is a crucial solution given that only 7 schools, unequally distributed around the country, exist for deaf kindergarteners. The last available numbers show that only about 50% of deaf or hard of hearing children in Jordan receive primary education.

This world changing idea empowers hard of hearing children and their families through the easy accessibility and added support of the Martha kit. The Martha kit includes visual cards and a companion application using augmented reality. A parent or child points the phone at the card and a video automatically displays a child demonstrating the word in sign language. Learn more.



The research & innovation arm of the International Rescue Committee. We design, test, scale life-changing solutions for people affected by conflict & disaster.