Maths app by RBS graduates wins "Apprentice" charity challenge


Maths app by RBS graduates wins "Apprentice" charity challenge

An app to help children struggling with maths and designed by graduates working for RBS has won an Apprentice-style charity challenge, co-judged by RBS Group Chief Executive Stephen Hester.

Our news

14 May 2013

RBS group chief executive Stephen Hester chats with the bank's graduate employees at the Pilotlight challenge

Numbugs, which is based on the UK National Curriculum Key Stage 1, stars Addy the anteater who uses numbered bubbles to battle a swarm of invading Numbugs.

The app, which launched on May 8 on Google Play, was designed and developed by eight graduates from RBS as part of a programme devised by the charity Pilotlight.

Practical solutions

The six month programme placed teams of graduates with six small charities - Reading Quest, the British Youth Council, Prospex, Isle of Dogs Community Foundation, Bromley Y and New Choices for Youth - with the aim of developing practical solutions to real issues faced by the charities.

Reading Quest, a charity which helps six and seven year olds with reading, writing and maths, set its graduate team the brief of developing and launching a tablet and smartphone app to raise money and provide a learning aid for children who have fallen behind with their numeracy skills.

Numeracy and literacy work

Jayne Lacny, Director of Reading Quest, said: “As a charity we want to create a trading arm to reflect the work we are doing and make us stronger financially. The Pilotlight/RBS project has taken us a huge step closer now to being able to create and sell our numeracy and literacy work through the production of apps.

“Alone we would have struggled. Together we have achieved above and beyond our expectations.”

Numbugs was voted the winner by a judging panel which included Hester, Marc Sidwell, Managing Editor of City AM, Elsa Critchley, Head of Group Culture at RBS and Jackie Barnes from the charity It’s Your Life. The judges praised the high level of innovation shown in developing the Numbugs app, and the fact that the team’s project resulted in a product.

Hester said: “The tangible results our graduates have been able to achieve for these charities illustrates the benefits of partnering with our local community. Part of the culture change for us is about doing the right thing by our communities, starting with our new recruits right up the organisation.”

Fiona Halton, chief executive of Pilotlight, the charity which devised the programme, said it was important to get City graduates involved with charity at the start of their career so they understand, in a very practical way, the challenges facing charities and see the impact they can have by working with them.

“The graduates I speak with tell me this completely changes the way they think about charities, As well as developing the graduates’ business skills we hope this unique programme will help transform the way corporates engage with charities and lead to a lifetime of philanthropy for these young people.”

Rachel Short, a member of the Reading Quest team and a graduate working for RBS International Banking, said the project provided her and the rest of the team with a lot more responsibility than they would normally be given in the first five years of their career. “We were given ownership of the app from the beginning, and it meant we could work with people from different parts of the Group,” she said.

Uncertainties of charity funding

Short said that the project had provided an insight into the uncertainties of the charity funding cycle, and added that the team members intended to continue their relationship with Reading Quest.

Numbugs is now in development for use on iOS and Windows Phone and can be followed on facebook.com/Numbugs.

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