Below is a summary of the most frequently asked questions during the virtual information session on October 13, 2022. These FAQs and the session recording are intended for informational purposes only and all information presented here is superseded by the challenge rules, terms and conditions.

For additional inquiries, please contact hello@FutureFinderChallenge.com.

Eligibility

What types of organizations can enter? 

Any organization is permitted to enter, provided they meet the eligibility requirements. To be eligible, an entity must be registered or incorporated in accordance with applicable state and local laws, and maintain a primary place of business in the United States.

Does the challenge have any requirements around the size or revenue of an entrant organization? 

No. The eligibility criteria does not stipulate any requirements around company size or revenue. However, entrants are expected to submit a prototype in Stage 1 and a market-ready tool by the end of Stage 2. Please review the submission form and Stage 1 and Stage 2 selection criteria to learn more about the expectations for the challenge.

Are international entities eligible?

No. An entity must be registered or incorporated in accordance with applicable state and local laws, and maintain a primary place of business in the United States. The entity may include foreign citizens participating as employees of the entity.

Prizes

How will the prize purse be allocated?

The total prize purse for the challenge is $1 million. In Stage 1, up to five finalists will receive at least $50,000 each. In Stage 2, a grand-prize winner will receive $500,000 and up to two runners-up will receive a share of at least $250,000.

How can prize money be used?

Prize competitions, by design, do not place any restrictions on how award funds are used. Recipients are responsible for any applicable federal, state, and/or local taxes and reporting requirements related to their prize. Note, finalists will be expected to cover the costs of their participation in Stage 2 — including any necessary travel to the boot camp and live demo day.

What are the reporting requirements related to the expenditure of prize money?

The funds awarded through this challenge are not subject to the same federal reporting requirements as funds awarded through grant programs. Prize winners should comply with their regular documentation procedures for audit purposes and for any local or state reporting requirements.

How will prize money be sent to the prize winners?

Any potential prizes awarded under this challenge will be paid by electronic funds transfer. Award recipients will be responsible for any applicable local, state, and federal taxes and reporting that may be required under applicable tax laws. Any potential prizes will be paid by electronic funds transfer to the team lead or their entity. The team lead is responsible for any further distribution of prize funds to other team members. Please refer to the prizes section of the rules, terms, and conditions.

Challenge focus

What problem is the challenge addressing?

The Future Finder Challenge aims to spur the creation or improvement of digital career navigation tools to improve equitable access to career navigation services for all adult learners.

Career navigation services — which help people understand, choose, and prepare for career opportunities — have become increasingly vital to career success in the 21st century workforce. However, not all learners have equal access to these services. Although there are a growing number of digital career navigation tools for professionals and higher education students, few are designed specifically for adult learners.

What types of digital tools is the challenge seeking?

The challenge is seeking any type of digital tool that aims to improve the career navigation experience for adult learners. This includes any program, service, and/or resource that is delivered through a computer, tablet, smartphone, or other electronic device.

Is the challenge seeking new or existing tools?

Entrants with new or existing tools are welcome to apply. The challenge is seeking entrants that are looking to adapt, improve and/or scale their tools. This may include adding additional functionality or tailoring content to better suit adult learners. For Stage 1, the challenge is seeking prototypes. For Stage 2, entrants are expected to have a market-ready tool that can be deployed to adult learners and other users. All entries will be evaluated against the same Stage 1 selection criteria.

Is the challenge focused on any specific areas of career navigation?

No, the challenge is not focused on any particular stage or area of the career navigation process. Entrants will be expected to demonstrate how their tool could improve the career navigation experience for adult learners — such as increased self-awareness, career knowledge, confidence, and/or job attainment in high-growth, high-wage industries. Please refer to the definition of career navigation in the rules, terms, and conditions.

Can the tool focus on a specific industry or career track? 

Yes, tools can focus on specific industries or career tracks. Entrants should include a rationale for their focus as part of their Stage 1 submission. Keep in mind that in Stage 1 entrants will be expected to demonstrate how their tool will improve the career navigation experience for adult learners as well as their tool’s potential to be scaled to impact a meaningful number of adult learners beyond the challenge.

How is the challenge defining adult learners? 

Someone who has attained 16 years of age; is not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law; and (i) is basic skills deficient; (ii) does not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, and has not achieved an equivalent level of education; or (iii) is an English language learner. This definition of “adult learner” is from the definition of “eligible individual” in section 203(4) of WIOA (29 U.S.C. 3272(4)).

Does a tool need to be designed for all adult learners?

Entrants may design their tool for any group of adult learners, as defined in the rules, terms, and conditions. This may include a specific subset of adult learners, such as English learners or veterans. All entrants will be expected to demonstrate how their tool is designed to meet the specific needs of the adult learners they are designing for.

Please refer to the Stage 1 submission form and the Stage 1 selection criteria for more information.

Can tools utilize existing technology, systems, and/or databases?

Yes. Entrants can utilize existing technology, systems and/or databases as part of their tools. Note, in Stage 1 submissions will be evaluated on their plan to integrate with existing local workforce systems and tools. In Stage 2, submissions will be evaluated on how well they will integrate with local systems and their compatibility with existing datasets and tools. Entrants should also consider any implications this may have for the scalability and learner centricity of their tools.

Please refer to the selection criteria for more information.

Submissions

What fidelity is required for the Stage 1 prototype? 

In Stage 1, entrants are required to submit a PDF presentation that demonstrates the functionality of their tool. This may include wireframes, screen mockups, and other imagery to demonstrate how the tool would work.

There are no specific requirements for the fidelity of the prototype. However, reviewers and judges will consider the likelihood that the tool will be market ready by the end of Stage 2 as part of their scoring. Please refer to the Stage 1 selection criteria for more information.

In addition, in Stage 1 entrants will be required to submit information regarding their target users, an overview of how their tool will integrate with existing systems, and a plan for how they will build and test the tool in Stage 2.

How will submissions be evaluated?

In Stage 1, all submissions will be reviewed against the Stage 1 selection criteria. Depending on the volume of submissions received, a review panel may conduct an initial review of eligible submissions. A subset of the highest scoring submissions will then be reviewed by a judging panel.

To what extent do we need to demonstrate integration of existing services into the prototype in Stage 1?

In Stage 1, entrants will be expected to demonstrate how they plan to integrate with existing local workforce systems and tools, including through partnerships with adult education providers and/or industry. For more information, please review the selection criteria.

Can you submit more than one submission?

Yes, entrants are welcome to submit more than one submission. All submissions will be evaluated separately.

Are there accessibility requirements for submissions?

In Stage 1, entrants will be evaluated on how well they demonstrate an understanding of their target adult learners’ specific needs. This should include an understanding of any accessibility requirements (for example, proficiency with technology, literacy levels). In the Stage 2 submission form, finalists will be asked to share how their tools meet necessary accessibility requirements.

Are there any specific cybersecurity function requirements that should be included in the tool?

As part of their Stage 2 submission, finalists will be expected to demonstrate how their tool meets appropriate security requirements in order to be market ready (for example, the storage of personal data).

Intellectual property

What IP rights do the Department or challenge team have?

As stated in the rules, terms, and conditions, each entrant retains title to, and full ownership of, its submission, including any software, research, or other intellectual property that they develop in connection therewith, subject to the license granted to the Department to use submissions as set forth herein. The entrant expressly reserves all intellectual property rights not expressly granted under this agreement. By participating in the challenge, each entrant hereby grants a nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up world-wide license to the Department and Luminary Labs to store and access submissions in perpetuity that may be reproduced or distributed in the future. If the submission is selected as a finalist or winner, the Department retains a nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up world-wide license to any non-proprietary materials submitted as part of the challenge, in perpetuity, to store, access, reproduce, publish, link to, display, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes and authorize others to do so. Each entrant must clearly delineate any confidential commercial information contained in a submission that the entrant wishes to protect as proprietary data.

Participation requirements

What are the requirements in Stage 2?

Finalists will be expected to participate in an accelerator from early 2023 – fall 2023. This will involve a mix of in-person and virtual activities.

To maintain eligibility for Stage 2 prizes, finalists are required to participate in challenge activities organized by the Department and Luminary Labs, including the boot camp and live demo day. Refer to the rules, terms, and conditions for additional information.

Support and related initiatives

How does this align to other Department of Education initiatives?

This challenge aligns with and supports the Department’s Strategic Objectives 1.4, 4.3, and 4.4 in the U.S. Department of Education’s FY22-26 Strategic Plan.

It is authorized under the WIOA, AEFLA, Title II of Public Law 113-128; Section 242, National Leadership Activities. Section 242 allows the Secretary of Education to establish and carry out a program of national leadership activities to enhance the quality and outcomes of adult education and literacy activities and programs nationwide.

What resources are available to help entrants prepare for this challenge?

The resources page on the challenge website contains several links that provide information about adult learners, the adult ed ecosystem, and career navigation services. Potential entrants are also encouraged to join the challenge community to connect with other innovators or offer their expertise.

Other

I would like to get involved in the challenge as a judge and/or mentor, how can I express interest?

Interested parties can email the challenge team at hello@FutureFinderChallenge.com.

If my submission does not progress to Stage 2, will there be a way to stay involved?

Please subscribe to the newsletter to stay up-to-date on challenge opportunities. You can also join the challenge community to connect with like-minded innovators.

17 days left to submit