Flocabulary (20 Jay Street)
Flocabulary, in the same building as Red Antler, is a company that specializes in educational hip-hop — a sort of “Schoolhouse Rock” for our times. They started in San Francisco in 2004 before coming to NYC in 2005 to get closer to the rap business. According to co-founder and CEO Alex Rappaport, after three years in Manhattan, renting traditional offices with low ceilings and cubicles, they made the move to Dumbo to take advantage of the superior office space.
“We saw the view of the river,” he remembers, “and said, ‘We’ll take it.'”
Flocabulary records for an online library of educational hip-hop songs and videos for grades K-12 — over 20,000 schools participate. Employees with backgrounds in music and education develop materials in the office on topics as far-ranging as fossils, eclipses, hurricanes, and pollution — and they work with nearby sound studios and design firms in Dumbo to create the finished product.
Rappaport and the Dumbo Business Improvement District worked together to form Big Idea Week, a chance for elementary school children to collaborate with and learn from local entrepreneurs. The inaugural program debuted in May 2013 at local elementary school PS 307, with participants including Rappaport, Tina Roth Eisenberg (Tattly, Studiomates, the SwissMiss blog), Brian Lemond (Brooklyn United), Jonathan Cedar (Biolite), Matthew Burnett and Tanya Melendez (Maker’s Row), and Marco Perry (Pensa).
What they do for fun: In a program they call the Quarterdeck, Flocabulary employees take turns giving monthly presentations to their co-workers on things they’re passionate about. Subjects include everything from Brooklyn architecture to fencing — the Flocabulary CTO is an alumnus of the U.S. Olympic fencing team and trains with other Olympic hopefuls in Dumbo, a couple of blocks away.