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FAQ

What is the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition?

The Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition is a national challenge to expand access to education for adult learners through the use of technology. Competitors will compete in two phases to win a share of $1M in cash prizes by distributing free, proven-effective mobile learning apps that adults—both native speakers of English and English language learners—can use anytime, anywhere to improve their literacy skills.

Why is XPRIZE organizing this competition?

More than 36 million adults in the United States lack basic literacy skills, affecting their ability to maintain meaningful employment, read prescription information, or even read a bedtime story to their kids. The effects on society are profound, with low literacy costing the United States more than $220B per year in economic productivity and resulting in over $230B per year in additional healthcare costs. The Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition decreases barriers to learning for low-literacy adults by providing free mobile apps that learners can use anywhere and anytime to improve their literacy.

But aren’t there programs to address adult literacy in the United States?

There are, and they are amazingly effective, but place-based programs can only address the needs to 5% of the adult learner population. They are not always convenient for learners and will not scale to meet the needs of 36 million adults. The free, proven-effective tools available through the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition will complement and supplement existing programs to provide adult education services to millions more.

What is the prize purse?

A total of $1M in cash prizes will be awarded in two Phases of the Communities Competition. In Phase 1, the “Proposal Phase,” up to 50 competitors will win an $10,000 each for demonstrating how they will use technology to increase access to education for adults. In Phase 2, the “Deployment Phase,” competitors in three tiers will win a share of an additional $500K for recruiting participants to download and use the qualified apps.

How is the Communities Competition related to the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation?

The Adult Literacy XPRIZE is a two-stage competition to (1) develop and (2) distribute mobile apps that enable adult learners of all abilities to improve their literacy skills in English regardless of their native language. The Communities Competition is the second stage. In Stage 1, competing teams developed mobile learning apps to increase the literacy skills of adult learners.

What is a community? Who can compete?

XPRIZE believes that solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges can come from anyone. The Communities Competition is open to any educational institution, non-profit, NGO, government agency, company, corporation, individual, person, or any other legal entity duly constituted in the United States ONLY, regardless of size, locality, and whether or not the competitors have previously worked with or served adult learners. Communities can be virtual, local, regional, or national in scope and reach. Competing communities may recruit participants anywhere in the United States regardless of that community’s physical location. Only participating learners recruited within the United States will be counted in the competition’s tally of users.

Are any organizations prohibited from competing?

Competitors must be duly constituted legal entities in the United States ONLY. XPRIZE staff, donors, and benefactors, as well as judges of this competition, may not compete. XPRIZE reserves the right to limit, or restrict upon notice, participation in the competition to any person or entity at any time for any reason. Organizations, individuals, or other entities deemed to promote hate, hateful speech, discriminatory policy, violence, or illegal activities are barred from competing in the Communities Competition.

How do I win?

You have two chances to win. In Phase 1, competitors must submit an Application Form by 5pm PT on December 21, 2018, detailing how they will use the available apps to expand access to adult education. These proposals will be judged on their potential for impact, innovation, feasibility, scalability, and durability. A detailed scoring rubric may be viewed at communities.xprize.org/about/scoring.

In Phase 2, the “Deployment Phase,” competitors in three tiers will compete for a share of $500K for recruiting participants to download and use the apps. Upon registration, competitors must elect to compete in one of the three tiers. To qualify for the prize purse in a tier, competitors must attain a minimum threshold of participant downloads as detailed in the Competition Guidelines. The winner in tiers 1 and 2 will be the entity that has attained the minimum threshold of participant downloads for the tier and which has the largest number of participants use the app on at least three separate days. The winner in Tier 3 will be the entity with the largest number of participants who use the app on at least three separate days without need to meet a minimum threshold. You can learn more about scoring for Phase 2 at communities.xprize.org/scoring-phase2.

How will XPRIZE ensure that scoring is fair?

Because people differ, not all reviewers will score submitted applications in the same way—some reviewers will be more generous and others stingier. Likewise, reviewers’ spread of scores may differ. One reviewer may have a more binary scoring approach, giving only 1’s and 5’s, while another reviewer may spread scores around more evenly across the range. To ensure fairness for all applicants, we will normalize all reviewers’ scores by measuring each individual reviewer’s mean and standard deviation of scores, as well as measuring the mean and standard deviation of all scores across all reviewers. We will then rescale the mean and standard deviation of each individual reviewer to match that of the entire population of reviewers.

Are there rules on how prize money can be spent?

Winners must use the Prize winnings to benefit adult learners. The Application Form will require teams to explain how they intend to spend the winnings. Teams must also demonstrate how they intend to continue to support increasing access to adult education beyond the competition. A judging panel will determine competitors’ compliance with these goals. For further detail, see Section 2 of the Competition Guidelines.

Who are eligible learners?

Eligible participants are residents of the United States who have access to a smartphone or tablet running Android OS. Competitors are not required to verify the literacy level of participants. XPRIZE will not test participants to determine their literacy level. Participants can be concurrently enrolled in adult basic or secondary education, CTE, or English-as-a-second language courses but are not required or expected to do so.

What are these apps? Can I see them?

In Stage 1, competing teams developed mobile learning apps to increase the literacy skills of adult learners. There are currently five finalist teams whose apps are undergoing field testing. You can learn more about these teams and their apps at adultliteracy.xprize.org/teams

How were the apps vetted?

In Stage 1, competing teams developed mobile learning apps to increase the literacy skills of adult learners. Since July 2017, XPRIZE has been field testing semifinalist apps with 7,000 adults. At the conclusion of field testing in October 2018, winning teams will be selected based on the gains made by users of those teams’ apps as measured by a pre-test and post-test administered one year apart using a generally accepted adult literacy assessment. For a description of Stage 1 field testing protocols, see the Teams Stage Competition Guidelines.

Are the apps free for learners? For how long will they be free?

Apps deployed in the Communities Competition will be free to users recruited during the Deployment phase (Phase 2) and for one year following the close of the Deployment phase for those users. Neither competitors in the Communities Competition or teams from the Teams Competition of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE are permitted to charge participants for using these apps during this time period.

How do I sign up to compete?

Visit communities.xprize.org, register, form a team, and begin filling out your application.

I have more questions. Where can I get answers?

A more detailed FAQ, as well as the Competition Guidelines and other relevant information, are available on our prize operations platform. Register your profile to access those materials.

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