XPRIZE Grand Challenge for Adult Literacy


It looks like an XPRIZE Grand Challenge for Adult Literacy is being planned for the U.S. http://www.xprize.org/prizes/future-prizes/adult-literacy If you think this is a good idea, you can vote for this prize at the web address. If you want to see more votes for it, you can share this message with your colleagues.

What's an XPRIZE? 

From their website, http://www.xprize.org/about/what-is-an-xprize ,


"is a highly leveraged, incentivized prize competition that pushes the limits of what’s possible to change the world for the better" and "captures the world’s imagination and inspires others to reach for similar goals, spurring innovation and accelerating the rate of positive change."

An XPRIZE must meet the following criteria:


Pushes the boundaries of human potential by focusing on problems currently believed to be unsolvable, or that have no clear path toward a solution.


Targets a range of market failures: (1) no capital is being spent, (2) capital is being spent, but without the desired result, (3) no capital is being spent because nobody knows it’s a problem, (4) the problem is known, but no one can imagine that it’s not already being addressed, (5) No one is addressing because a solution is thought to be impossible.


Solution-agnostic, defining the challenge and incentivizing teams around the world to find the most effective solutions.


While a competition must be bold and difficult, it must also be achievable to ensure that teams believe that they can win.


Should be able to be won by teams ranging from industry experts to well-funded high school students who don’t know what they can’t do.


Designed to affect the foreseeable future, so a duration of two to seven years is essential to allow teams enough time to succeed, while ensuring momentum and that industry will not outpace the competition Clear, Objective and Simple Rules: Clearly defined finish line with easy-to-understand rules and goals that are measurable and understandable by all.


The winning of the competition itself is interesting and compelling, and has innate narratives that are able to be conveyed easily to our audiences.


Provides leverage for a sponsor’s investment by driving additional support of a solution;by shifting risk from sponsors to competitors, prizes attract investments of capital and time from motivated participants, and when prizes produce vetted solutions they can attract further investment.


Enable innovators to attract capital, support and team members Create “Back End Business”: Should give birth to a new industry or transform/revitalize an existing one with long-lasting benefits.


Inspires hope through our vision of a better future where winning teams are the proof that the world’s seemingly impossible problems can be solved.


David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning and Program Management  CoPs Moderator





Thanks Daphne,

I hope others will vote for having this prize too.I think it would bring a lot of attention to the issue of adult literacy. I'll post something here as soon as it's announced, if it is.

I wonder if anyone has questions about prizes like this, how grand challenge prizes work. If so, post your questions and I'll try to answer them, or perhaps we have someone in the CoP who has participated in a grand challenge prize competition? If so, it would be great to have some first-hand knowledge.

David J. Rosen

Program Management CoP Moderator



Daphne and others,

The XPRIZE Foundation has now formally announced the Adult Literacy XPRIZE, a $7 Million competition in which teams of software developers design basic adult literacy (zero to grade three) learning solutions that work on smartphones and "phablets" (larger smartphones). The solutions need to be engaging, very easy to navigate, and not dependent on face-to-face tutoring or teaching. This is, indeed, an interesting challenge: providing highly engaging basic adult literacy instruction from a software application. The first phase is for teams to compete to develop the five top software solutions. Then these top solutions will be tested by adult learners to be chosen by the XPRIZE Foundation. The learners will be pre- and post-tested using a CASAS. assessment The winning solution will then be implemented in several cities chosen by the XPRIZE Foundation. The winning city will be the one that has the most number of downloaded software applications. That's my understanding at this point, and of course my interpretation, not an official XPRIZE Foundation description; my understanding is based on my interpretation of the draft guidelines, and of a June 9th Google Hangout offered by the XPRIZE Foundation to provide information and answer questions.

You will find direct information about the Adult Literacy XPRIZE at  http://adultliteracy.xprize.org/about/overview and the draft guidelines at  http://www.xprize.org/sites/default/files/alxp_draft_guidelines_v1.0_2015-06-08.pdf

David J. Rosen

Program Management CoP Moderator


Program Management Colleagues,

The National Council for Adult Learning (NCAL) has published a blog article in which several leaders and national experts in adult literacy education give their reactions to the announcement of an XPRIZE for Adult Literacy. You will find the article at http://ncalamerica.org/blog/

What are your thoughts about the Adult Literacy XPRIZE? Do any of the issues raised by the blog article authors resonate with you? Are there issues that you have been thinking about that were not raised? Are there issues raised that you disagree with?

David J. Rosen

Program Management CoP Moderator


Technology and Learning, and Program Management colleagues,

The XPRIZE Foundation's September Adult Literacy Q & A webinar video is now archived at  http://forum.xprize.org/t/adult-literacy-xprize-q-a-video/2245 . They announced at the webinar that the draft guidelines for the Adult Literacy prize have been revised. You will find the new guidelines at http://adultliteracy.xprize.org/sites/default/files/alxp_guidelines_v20_2015-09-01.pdf

I wonder if anyone from the adult literacy education field is organizing or advising a team that is planning to compete. If so, please let me/us know.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning and Program Management CoPs



You may now be familiar with the XPRIZE Adult Literacy competition. If you have thought about making yourself available to one of the competing teams, but wonder how to do that, here’s how:

  1. Go to http://adultliteracy.xprize.org/
  2. Select “TEAMS” from the menu in the yellow bar at the top
  3. On the “JOIN A TEAM” page, select “Click Here to Register”
  4. Create your User Profile – follow the directions but don’t register a team or pay the registration fee if you just want to be available to join a team.
  5. If you want to learn about the teams that have already registered – which ones are looking for additional team members - select “TEAMS DIRECTORY” from the menu in the yellow bar at the top. Then look at the column that asks “Need for additional team members?”

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP



Here's an update on the Dollar General Foundation and Barbara Bush Foundation supported Adult Literacy XPRIZE (source: http://edscoop.com/xprize-competition-spurs-developers-to-build-adult-literacy-apps )

Highlights of the article include:

  • 85 teams of software developers are creating apps for basic literacy for native speakers of English and for immigrants learning English
  • The deadline for completing their projects is still about six months away (March 2017)
  • The Senior Director of the Initiative, Shlomy Kattan, says some of the competing teams are 'really doing incredibly innovative stuff,' and ads 'We’re seeing teams that are taking pedagogical-solution approaches that historically have been face to face and digitizing them for the first time.'
  • Next March, a panel of independent judges will select up to 15 semifinalists. Each semifinalist team’s mobile software app will then be tested with about 800 field participants for a year.
  • Then, mid-way in the field test, five finalists will be selected based the performance of their apps. Winners will then be picked from the pool of five finalists based on the gains in literacy skills among the field participants.
  • "finalist apps that show gains in literacy skills among field participants will then be deployed in a Cities Competition in which cities will compete to encourage the greatest percentage of their low-literate residents to download the use the applications over a six-month period. Finalists that advance to the Cities Competition will split an award of $500,000."

David J. Rosen, Moderator

Technology and Learning CoP