Today the U.S. Department of Education announced 95 finalists in the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, a $ 750,000 competition to promote preschool education. We issued this challenge to help adult education providers create innovative learning and training opportunities.

Many adult learners face obstacles to accessing apprenticeships, although these programs can serve as avenues to meaningful careers in various industries. Pre-apprenticeships overcome these barriers by equipping adult learners with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in apprenticeships – which can expand access to rewarding careers in the United States.

From September to November 2020, we asked providers funded by the Adult Education and Family Skills Act to submit preliminary drafts of pre-school programs. The challenge received 203 submissions in a variety of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, and technology. Participants represented 44 states as well as Guam and the District of Columbia. The review panel, made up of experts in adult education, labor policy, social services and more, has selected 95 finalists to advance to the second phase and compete for prizes of $ 750,000.

“The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge provides adult education providers with the opportunity to develop prep programs with the help of expert assistance and curated resources,” said Scott Stump, assistant secretary for Careers, Technology and Adult Education. “We were delighted with the number of vendors looking to offer this type of training – and their ingenuity in customizing learning to meet the needs of the industry.”

The second phase of the challenge runs from February to July 2021. During the Phase 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 jury examines the proposals for level 2 and selects a main winner and up to five runners-up. In this challenge, the grand prize winner will receive $ 250,000 and up to five runners-up will receive a minimum of $ 100,000 each.

In the second phase, selected materials and resources are released as part of the challenge for other participants in the challenge who are interested in the further development of their programs. At the end of the challenge, we will adapt and publish materials from the virtual accelerator so that the broader adult education community can benefit from the knowledge and ideas it contains.

To learn more about the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge and the finalists, visit and follow The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge is part of a series of prize competitions aimed at spurring the development of new technologies, products, and resources that prepare students for careers with high skills, high wages, and high demand. The challenge is funded by the Adult Education and Family Skills Act.


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