U.S. Department of Education Launches Rethink Adult Ed Challenge

In recognition of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge that will expand career opportunities for adult learners through pre-apprenticeship programs. These important educational opportunities help to ensure students seeking apprenticeships are prepared with the skills they need for success.

“In our dynamic and changing economy, learning must be a life-long pursuit,” said Secretary DeVos. “Educational opportunities for adults should reflect this reality, but all too often, students, particularly adult learners, encounter barriers to changing careers and learning new skills. This pre-apprenticeship challenge gives local education leaders the opportunity and encouragement they need to rethink adult education to match this new reality and ensure students are prepared for success.”

The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, with prizes totaling $750,000, will help Adult Education and Family Literacy Act-funded adult education providers create innovative and high-quality pre-apprenticeship programs — in any industry, anywhere in the United States.

Community colleges, correctional facilities, libraries, community-based organizations, and other eligible providers interested in entering the challenge should complete a Stage 1 submission by 11:59 p.m. ET on Nov. 25, 2020. The online submission seeks a preliminary design for a pre-apprenticeship program, including a description of the target learners, the adult education and literacy activities the program may provide, and local industry needs. Curated resources are available at rethinkadulted.com to support entrants as they prepare submissions. To learn more, adult education providers can join a virtual information session on Oct. 15, 2020.

A review panel will select up to 100 finalists to join Stage 2, which runs from February to July 2021. Finalists will have access to a range of digital resources — such as case studies, activities, and webinars with subject matter experts — to help them refine their designs and develop more detailed program proposals. A judging panel will review the submitted proposals and select one grand-prize winner and up to five runners-up. The grand-prize winner will be awarded $250,000 and up to five runners-up will each receive at least $100,000.

“Too many adult learners are missing out on opportunities for well-paid and rewarding careers, whether due to skills gaps, family responsibilities, financial situations, or a lack of awareness about apprenticeships in general,” said Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump. “We’re addressing these hurdles by advancing innovative pre-apprenticeship programs that will benefit everyone — including adult learners, employers, and the communities around them.”

About Ed Prizes

Rethink Adult Ed is part of Ed Prizes, a series of prize competitions to develop new products and services to both increase access to, and expand the capacity of, career and technical education. The Department has awarded $1.7 million in prizes through three previous challenges. Learn more at edprizes.com.

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