95 Finalists Announced in National Challenge to Break Down Barriers to Apprenticeships

Congratulations to the

Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced 95 finalists in the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, a $750,000 competition to advance pre-apprenticeships. We issued this challenge to support adult education providers in creating innovative learning and training opportunities.

Many adult learners face barriers to accessing apprenticeships, even though these programs can serve as pathways into meaningful careers across industries. Pre-apprenticeships break down these barriers by equipping adult learners with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in apprenticeships — which can expand access to rewarding careers across the United States.

From September to November 2020, we invited providers funded by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act to submit preliminary designs for pre-apprenticeship programs. The challenge received 203 submissions across a broad range of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and technology. Entrants represented 44 states, as well as Guam and the District of Columbia. The review panel — composed of experts in adult education, workforce policy, social services, and more — has selected 95 finalists to advance to Stage 2 and compete for $750,000 in prizes.

“The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge gives adult education providers an opportunity to develop pre-apprenticeship programs with the help of expert support and curated resources,” said Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump. “We were thrilled by the number of providers that want to offer this type of training — as well as their ingenuity in adapting learning to meet industry needs.”

The second stage of the challenge will run from February to July 2021. During the Stage 2 virtual accelerator, finalists will have access to a range of digital resources — such as case studies, activities, and webinars with subject matter experts — to help them develop detailed program proposals. A judging panel will review the Stage 2 proposals and select one grand-prize winner and up to five runners-up. The challenge will award $250,000 to the grand-prize winner, and up to five runners up will each receive at least $100,000.

During the second stage, the challenge will share selected materials and resources for other challenge entrants interested in further developing their programs. At the end of the challenge, we will adapt and publish materials from the virtual accelerator so that the wider adult education community can benefit from the knowledge and ideas they contain.

To learn more about the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge and the finalists, visit rethinkadulted.com and follow twitter.com/edprizes. The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge is part of a series of prize competitions that aims to spur development of new technology, products, and resources that will prepare students for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand careers. The challenge is funded by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act.