This fall, the Future Finder Challenge called on innovators to reimagine career navigation for adult learners. By the Stage 1 deadline on December 15, 76 teams submitted prototypes of digital tools designed to meet adult learners’ unique needs. Team members held expertise in fields such as edtech, app design, and workforce development.

Challenge inspires broad range of innovative solutions

From skills assessment and career matching to mentor access and job application support, the submissions propose an array of innovative solutions for supporting adult learners as they launch and advance their careers.

Adult learners — a diverse group that includes adults who have not completed high school and/or who are learning English — are a historically underserved population. While the number of digital career navigation tools for professionals and higher education students has grown, tools designed specifically for adult learners have remained scarce. As a result, too many adult learners have had to navigate the job market without the support they need to enter and thrive in high-quality, in-demand occupations.

This is where the Future Finder Challenge comes in. The challenge is inspiring the development of digital career navigation tools for adult learners by connecting innovators and providing critical funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities across the adult ed and edtech ecosystems. With over 43 million adult learners who could benefit from career navigation tools, entrants’ solutions have the potential to drive positive change across the U.S. workforce. Solutions that expand equitable access to high-growth industries can support a robust and diverse workforce while bolstering U.S. economic strength — and ultimately, an inclusive economy is a more dynamic and globally competitive economy. 

Experts review challenge submissions

Submissions deemed eligible in accordance with the official rules, terms and conditions are being scored by a panel of 19 experts. With expertise spanning across adult education, career navigation, edtech, industry, and inclusion and accessibility, the panelists will evaluate submissions against the Stage 1 selection criteria. A subset of the highest scoring submissions will then advance for review by a panel of five judges

The Future Finder Challenge team thanks the reviewers for generously giving their time and expertise to the challenge: 

  • Judith Alamprese, Principal Scientist, Social & Economic Policy, Abt Associates
  • Ahmmad Brown, President and Co-Founder, Equity Based Dialogue for Inclusion
  • Baltazar De Anda Santana, Executive Director, Latino Academy of Workforce Development
  • Donna Davis, Senior Manager Employee Social Responsibility, Upward Academy, Tyson Foods
  • Nell Eckersley, Director of Digital Equity Projects, Literacy Assistance Center
  • Marty Finsterbusch, Executive Director, VALUEUSA
  • Sue Grosdidier, High School Equivalency State Administrator, Kansas Board of Regents
  • Tiffany Gusbeth, Vice President, Student Success Services, American Indian College Fund
  • Sara Haghighi, Instructional Program Manager, Refugee Education Program, Prima Community College
  • Jessica Haselton, Director of Education Innovation Ventures, ECMC Foundation
  • JT Kim, Director, BD Enterprise, Career Karma
  • Yeny Madrid, Director – Partner Innovation, Scalable Solutions, Year Up
  • Ana Negoescu, Assistant Vice President, Business Engagement and Inclusion, National Immigration Forum
  • Ken Oliver, Vice President, Checkr Foundation
  • Chrissie Powell, Chief Growth & Impact Officer, Byte Back
  • Victor Rivero, Editor-in-Chief, EdTech Digest
  • Priyanka Sharma, Vice President, World Education
  • Mohona Siddique, Associate Director, Economic Opportunities Program, Aspen Institute
  • Shaketta Thomas, School Assessment Coordinator, Virginia Department of Corrections

Up next: Looking ahead to Stage 2

Later this winter, the judging panel will select up to five finalists to advance to Stage 2 and participate in a virtual accelerator. Following the end of the judging process, the Future Finder Challenge will notify entrants of award decisions through team leads. Kicking off with an in-person boot camp (conditions permitting), the accelerator will offer finalists access to virtual resources, mentorship from experts, and other forms of support to help them build and test their tools.

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