Pop singer Ariana Grande could have never imagined that her song “7 Rings” would one day be used to help middle-schoolers learn about the Electoral College.
But that’s just what it’s doing in the hands of Cosimo Fabrizio ’22 and Drew Speckman ’21, co-founders of rapStudy, which pairs popular song melodies with new lyrics meant to help elementary and middle schoolers learn about everything from civics to the scientific method.
“We know this has the capacity to change American education by changing the relationship that kids have with the learning process,” said Fabrizio, an economics and government double major in the College of Arts and Sciences. Speckman is a student in the ILR School who’s minoring in business and history.
The business, launched in September, won the grand prize last spring at the New York Business Plan Competition for college businesses; this past summer, Fabrizio and Speckman were named to the Beck Fellowship Program.
The business is taking off: rapStudy has grown to 40 team members, including 25 Cornell undergrads and 15 Los Angeles-based musicians, and their 150 songs are currently being used by teachers in 25 schools in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
By offering an entertaining tool to help kids stay motivated and engaged, the founders say their product also helps address inequity issues in education.
“There are too many kids who don’t have access to a quality education,” Fabrizio said. “We’re trying to work with K-8 students in particular right now, in large part because we believe that early education is an important factor in setting the foundation for a happy and successful life.”
Kathy Hovis is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.