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5 Organizations Reimagining Career Navigation for Adult Learners

The United States Department of Education has announced five finalists in its Future Finder Challenge, a competition announced last September seeking digital tools to help adult learners navigate from education to careers. Each finalist will receive $50,000 to help develop a prototype as well as six months of "virtual accelerator" assistance to further develop their product, ED explained in a news announcement.

In stage one of the competition, the challenge received 76 submissions from teams including minority, women, veteran, LGBTQ+, and Native American-owned organizations across 29 states. Project prototypes ran the gamut from skills assessment and career matching to mentor access and job application tools; submissions were evaluated by multidisciplinary judging panels with expertise in adult education, ed tech, career navigation, industry, and inclusion and accessibility.

The five finalists are:

  • BestFit, a platform that matches learners with on-campus, community, federal, and philanthropic resources such as childcare, healthcare, transportation, meals, and financial assistance, to help them design their own support networks;
  • Gladeo, a regional career navigation platform that combines a virtual career day with a program finder, self-assessment quiz, and personalized news about resources and opportunities;
  • Territorium, creator of a mobile application that matches adult learners' knowledge, experience, and interests with current hiring needs and supports learners through the career navigation process, including exploration, training, and application;
  • Wingspans, a web platform that provides adult learners with access to more than 700 career stories and employer profiles; and
  • Workbay, a platform deployed across national, state, regional, and correctional programs that links career exploration, skill-building, job postings, and applicant tracking.

Stage two of the competition offers the finalists access to virtual resources, webinars, and mentorship from subject-matter experts across a variety of topics, including adult education, design research, product design, storytelling, and growth and sustainability, ED said. Upon completion of this "virtual accelerator" stage, finalists will submit market-ready tools and proposals, as well as present at a live demo day this fall. One grand-prize winner will be selected to receive a $500,000 prize, and two runners-up will receive a share of at least $250,000.

The challenge will continue to support the winners into 2024 as they deploy their solutions, ED said. In addition, a repository of challenge resources and videos will be openly available to both challenge entrants and the public.

For more information, visit the Future Finder Challenge site.  

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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