A $1 million challenge to reimagine career navigation for adult learners

A $1 million challenge to reimagine career navigation for adult learners

U.S. Department of Education launches the Future Finder Challenge.

The jobs of the future are here today, as evolving technologies and industries create new types of jobs. Career navigation services — which help people understand, choose, and prepare for career opportunities — are more important than ever.

Although there are a growing number of digital career navigation tools for professionals and higher education students, few are designed specifically for adult learners, a diverse group that includes adults who have not completed high school and/or who are learning English. Many adult learners, who are often already underserved, do not have the support they need to enter and thrive in high-quality, in-demand occupations and high-growth industries. Technology has the potential to elevate existing career navigation services, expanding access for all learners across the United States.

This month, the U.S. Department of Education launched the Future Finder Challenge, a $1 million challenge to reimagine career navigation for adult learners. The challenge, designed and produced by Luminary Labs, invites innovators to build digital tools that better support adult learners as they launch and advance their careers.

“Too many working people have been unable to gain entry into today’s fast-growing fields because our adult education programs have not kept up with the pace of technological change in our economy. To build a more equitable and inclusive economy we must raise the bar for adult education in the United States and give learners of all ages the tools and opportunities they need to level up their skills and climb the economic ladder. Our Future Finder Challenge is about encouraging innovation and the creation of tools that help adult learners better navigate the workforce and take advantage of career opportunities in today’s most in-demand fields.”
Dr. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education

In Stage 1, the Department’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education calls on eligible entrants — including teams of strategists, app developers, user-centered designers, and educators — to submit prototypes for digital tools by 6:00 p.m. ET on December 15, 2022.

“Developing digital career navigation tools for adult learners will expand equitable access to career opportunities — which will increase upward mobility and strengthen the broader American workforce. Through the Future Finder Challenge, we’re using open innovation to invest in the adult edtech ecosystem, driving greater collaboration between adult learners and developers, educators, and employers.”
Dr. Amy Loyd, Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

An independent judging panel will recommend up to five finalists to receive at least $50,000 each and progress into Stage 2, which will run from early 2023 to fall 2023. During the second stage, finalists will participate in a virtual accelerator, receiving exclusive access to virtual resources, mentorship from experts, and other support to help them build and test their tools.

Conditions permitting, the Stage 2 accelerator will kick off with an in-person boot camp and culminate in a live demo day. One grand-prize winner will receive $500,000, and up to two runners-up will receive a share of at least $250,000.

Learn more about the Future Finder Challenge and sign up to attend the virtual information session on October 13.