$7 Million Competition for Adult Learning Apps


This article discusses a recently announced $7 million competition for teams to develop adult learning mobile applications that increase literacy. If you and/or your organizations are interested in structuring a team, details are provided below.


Competition--App-Adult-LiteracyOn June 08, 2015, XPRIZE, in partnership with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, launched a $7M Adult Literacy XPRIZE for teams to compete in delivering mobile applications that result in a significant increase in adult literacy over a 12-month period. BayLou is interested in competing in the opportunity to deliver solutions that address a growing societal concern. Competition details are contained in the tabs.


XPRIZE explains:

'A parent’s literacy level is a significant predictor of their child’s future educational success, influencing generations to follow,' said Barbara Bush, founder of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. 'As I celebrate my 90th birthday today with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I am inspired and hopeful that this Adult Literacy XPRIZE will bring about a radical breakthrough to end the cycle of low-literacy in America and that my grandchildren will grow up in a country where education is abundant and accessible to all.

'An estimated 36 million adults in the U.S. lack basic literacy skills, as do millions more around the world,' said XPRIZE chair and CEO Peter H. Diamandis.

'Existing programs require classrooms and teachers and cannot possibly scale to meet the need of the millions of adults who need support. The Adult Literacy XPRIZE demonstrates a paradigm shift in how we approach adult learning globally, with educational applications that are effective, scalable, and that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.'


After a six-month team registration period, competing teams will have 18 months to develop their solutions. A panel of third-party expert judges will then select the top five teams to move on to the 12-month field-testing phase of the competition. The five finalist solutions will be tested with a minimum of 1,000 adult learners each (5,000 total) across three U.S. cities, ages 18-64, who read at or below the equivalent of a third grade reading level. The $4M Grand Prize will be awarded to the team with the best performance across all adult learners, over the 12-month field test. Bonus Prizes of $500,000 will also be awarded to the two teams with the best performance in each of the two key demographic groups: native English speakers and non-native English speakers.


Following the awarding of the Grand Prize and Bonus Prizes, cities across the U.S. will compete to encourage their adult learners to download and use the winning applications, using tailored education, marketing and outreach campaigns. A $1M purse will be split among all finalist teams that meet the minimum performance benchmark to advance to the Cities Competition. A $1M prize will be awarded to the city that encourages the greatest percentage of its adult learners to download and use any of the finalist solutions over a six-month period.


The Adult Literacy XPRIZE is a software competition divided into two phases, a Team Solutions Phase and a Cities Deployment Phase. During the Team Solutions Phase, registered teams will have 18 months to develop smartphone/phablet software to teach literacy to adults in the United States. A panel of judges will select up to five finalists from all entries submitted. Those five finalists will have their software field tested for 12 months by approximately 5,000 adults in three U. S. cities. A CASAS pre-test will evaluate participants’ literacy level before the field test, and a CASAS post-test will be administered at the end. Participants will 2 be assigned to the ELS or the ELL demographic groups based on survey data collected at the pre-test. The Grand Prize will be awarded to the team whose software produces the greatest gains in literacy, provided those gains are at least equivalent to one EFL level of improvement. Bonus Prizes will be awarded to the teams showing the greatest gains in each of the two test cohorts (ELS and ELL).

The Cities Deployment Phase of the competition will begin with recruitment of cities during the Team Solutions Phase field test. Finalist teams that achieve gains of at least one NRS EFL level in each of the two demographic groups will share an Advanced Market Commitment award. Their software will be made available to participating cities, and those cities will implement recruitment programs to encourage low-literate adults to download and use that software. The Cities Deployment prize will be awarded to the city with the greatest percentage of low-literate adults downloading and using the finalist software.


Teams will be responsible for funding their own solution development costs. Expenses for the on-site, in-cities test stage of the competition are included as part of the competition and covered by XPRIZE.


XPRIZE will ensure fairness for competition team and participating adults by establishing three panels:

ADVISORY BOARD: XPRIZE will recruit an Advisory Board composed of experts in the fields of adult literacy education, assessment, software development and innovation. This board will remain in place throughout the competition to advise XPRIZE regarding the scientific and economic elements of the competition.

ETHICS REVIEW BOARD: XPRIZE will recruit three ethicists to comprise an Ethics Review Board to review and oversee the human element of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE. XPRIZE will ensure that the utmost care is taken when recruiting participants and will establish appropriate guidelines for working with participants throughout both competitions.

JUDGING PANEL: XPRIZE will recruit judges with expertise in adult literacy education, literacy curricula, the science of learning, software application design and development, and innovation. Judges will convene three times to collaborate, review guidelines, ask questions, and ensure that they are fully able to judge the competition in a fair and appropriate manner.


BayLou is prepared to lead or participate on a team by offering a number of management and technology services required for the successful execution of both Team and City phases of the XPRIZE competition. This includes, but is not limited to: grant submission, project management, systems engineering, financial management, and partnership relations. We draw from experience on projects of various sizes and in various environments -- small business, corporate, community and faith-based, and government.



If you and/or your organizations would like to participate on a competition team, submit the form by July 03, 2015. We will publish follow-up by July 6, 2015.




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