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Intercultural books for schools

Naomi Morris and Lauren Mckay
International Hospitality Management students Naomi Morris and Lauren Mckay together won an Inspirational Student Prize in the COVID-19 Student Innovation Challenge after being inspired by the Black Lives Matters movement to develop a Help Schools Teach Children About Race campaign.

Run by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, the COVID-19 Student Innovation Challenge awarded five student projects grown through lockdown with a package of support and £500 funding from the RGU Foundation. 

The pair of winners were concerned that children and primary schools have limited reading materials about race and quality. While in lockdown, they created a GoFundMe page and formed partnerships with bookshops to pay for books for schools. Find out more about Naomi and Lauren and their work in this Q&A. 

Why did you decide to set up your business?  

After research into the education system in the UK, we found that children were not being educated on race or inequality. We decided that if we could provide schools across Scotland with a bundle of books that include children of different races and upbringing then children can feel included. 

How did studying at RGU contribute to your business?  

Studying at RGU has allowed both of us to become welcoming and innovative individuals. We both took a placement in the USA in third year, which allowed us to see racial inequality in person. This, we believe, gave us fuel to try and make a change in Scotland. 

How has COVID-19 impacted your business and personal life?   

Without COVID-19, I actually think we would not have had the time for this project. It allowed us to focus our time and energy on making a change in our country. It has been a very stressful time as we were uncertain if the books would be allowed in the schools when they were reopening. 

What does winning this award mean to you?  

This award means so much to us both. We initially applied thinking that there would be too much competition, and we wouldn’t even get a look in. It’s not exactly designing a new app or lifesaving technology, but I think it will make such a difference to so many children’s lives and hopefully help end racism. The prize money will allow us to send books to around six more schools, which is incredible. 

What do you hope to do next?  

I hope to keep this business running and, in the future, take speakers into schools working alongside the Intercultural Society of Scotland to educate kids. 

Judges’ thoughts on the project 

Naomi Morris and Lauren McKay took the initiative to develop a number of partnerships during lockdown and focused on a key gap in the market that could support school children to read and learn about race and equality. The judging panel felt they demonstrated an innovative spirit when raising money on the GoFundMe page, focusing positively on a societal issue that has touched communities and nations across the world and took action to make a positive change. Find out more link. 

You can find out more about Naomi and Lauren’s project on their Go Fund Me page. You can also subscribe to free updates from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship group using the Innovation@RGU email subscription form.

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