Xprize to Host Competition for Best Adult Literacy App

Man reading with coffee and cell phone

Xprize’s latest competition will encourage programmers to create an app to support adult literacy.
Image: Shutterstock

Xprize announced today that it will be coordinating with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation on a literacy campaign for adults. The competition will encourage participants to build mobile apps to promote adult literacy, with a total of $7 million prize money on the line.

Last year Xprize ran its first literacy-related campaign, which provided $15 million to improve children’s literacy across the world. This latest competition specifically focuses on adults, however, as they are also facing literacy issues and often don’t get the support that children do.

“What we want to do is really kick-start this ed-tech market for adults, because we know that ed-tech market for kids is booming,” said Jennifer Bravo, senior manager of prize development at XPrize. “There’s not too much out there for adults.”

Liza McFadden, CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation, said that there are currently 36 million adults in the US who read below a third grade level, and less than 1% of these adults are enrolled in literacy courses. Mobile apps could have a chance of reaching these people, who may not have time for a full class or who are worried about the stigma of being unable to read efficiently as an adult.

The competition will begin with a six-month sign up period, followed by 18 months of product development. Xprize staff will be on hand to help bring together programmers and educational experts to form teams that can get the best results. After the development period, the top five teams will advance to a 12-month field test, culminating in a $4 million grand prize for the product that performs best across all adult participants. There will also be prizes for all the finalist teams, for teams with the best performance for native English speakers and non-native English speakers, and for the city that does the best job of promoting its finalist.

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