XPRIZE, Barbara Bush Foundation, and Dollar General Literacy Foundation Announce Finalists and Milestone Prizes in $1 Million Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition

Monday, April 8, 2019 - 11:03 am

The Communities Competition aims to get free educational apps into the hands of as many of the 36 million low-literate adults across the nation as possible

San Diego, CA (April 8, 2019) – Adult education programs across the country are competing for $1 million to register the most adult learners to use apps developed by four of the finalist teams in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE, including co-grand prize winner Learning Upgrade. Each participating app demonstrated measurable literacy improvements in learners who took a pre- and post-test in a 12-month field test in 2018. XPRIZE, in partnership with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, have announced the finalist teams, including recipients of its milestone prizes.

The Communities Competition continues the momentum of the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, which recently announced Learning Upgrade and People ForWords as the two grand prize winners. The two winners divided a $3 million purse, while each will also receive a $1 million achievement prize for having the best performance in two key demographic groups: native English speakers and English language learners.

“We see the Communities Competition as a golden opportunity to scale up to serve millions of adults from every walk of life with anytime, anywhere instruction so they can reach their full potential,” said Vinod Lobo, the co-founder and CEO of Learning Upgrade. “The competing providers are highly motivated to enroll thousands of learners into our app and win the prize.  Each provider is finding creative new ways to reach adults who need learning help. For example, Tyson Foods, in partnership with COABE, will be onboarding associates into our app at plants throughout the country.”

With research showing that 77 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, the competition aims to dramatically change the way the United States meets the needs of the 36 million adults with low literacy skills by tackling the largest obstacles to achieving basic literacy: access, retention, and scale.

During the competition, a total of $1 million will be awarded in two parts, with $500,000 available in milestone awards for teams that submit the most innovative, feasible, and scalable plans, and a $500,000 prize for teams that go on to recruit the most adult learners to download and use the apps through August 31, 2019. The grand prize winners will be announced in fall 2019. An independent panel of judges determined 24 teams of the 46 in the running had the best proposals and will split the $500,000 milestone award. Teams that will be using Learning Upgrade include COABE, ProLiteracy, World Education, and the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition.

“The Communities Competition is a one-of-a-kind effort to scale the impact of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE and transform lives through literacy,” said Shlomy Kattan, executive director of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE. “The passion, dedication and thoughtfulness of these competing communities is critical to reaching learners from diverse geographies and backgrounds. We have an array of teams, from educational institutions, to nonprofits, NGOs, government agencies, corporations, and individuals who are all critical to our goal of empowering adult learners to take learning in their own hands.”

The Learning Upgrade app, which is available on both Android and iOS devices, provides learners access to 300 sequenced, high-interest lessons on topics including phonics, decoding, comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and listening. The curriculum includes engaging songs, videos, games, and rewards that encourage all learners to achieve mastery. Each lesson provides practice activities accompanied by immediate intervention and remediation with multimedia supports. Learners can repeat lessons to mastery and earn a gold certificate when they become proficient in the College and Career Readiness Standards for that level.

For more information about the teams and the Communities Competition, visit adultliteracy.xprize.org and communities.xprize.org.

About Learning Upgrade
Founded in 1998 by educators, musicians, artists and programmers in San Diego, Learning Upgrade designs innovative, engaging lessons to support struggling students in reading and math. Through the incorporation of songs, video, games, and educational research, Learning Upgrade has helped more than 1 million students make learning breakthroughs. For more information, please visit LearningUpgrade.com.

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