The Reach Higher Initiative and U.S. Department of Education in their quest to encourage students to pursue education beyond high school have launched a mobile app competition to promote the development of mobile app solutions that will help students navigate education and career pathways, including career and technical education (CTE).
This challenge comes amidst an announcement made by First Lady Michelle Obama earlier this year.
“If students want to learn cutting-edge skills and prepare for successful careers, a four-year university isn’t their only choice. CTE is also an excellent option because students can get all the professional skills they need for a good job in a high-demand field, and they can do it at a fraction of the time and cost of a four-year school,” said Mrs. Obama.
According to ed.gov, the challenge is to look for apps that will help students not only to learn about all career options, but also increase the capacity of career counselors to assist students in planning for their futures. The apps should include integrated tools to assess student skills and interests, and offer information on occupations, education options, credentials and career-seeking skills.
The competition seeks to have participants such as Mobile app developers, educators, and data mavens engaging in the Challenge. The entrants will be later judged by a panel of judges from education, technology, and career guidance backgrounds who will evaluate the submissions and recommend finalists and winner(s) for the challenge.
The site also noted that given the trend and dynamic changes in the career landscape, students need all the support they can get. It pointed to the fact that in 2013 the national average student-to-school-counselor ratio for K-12 counselors was 482:1.
It noted further that students receive only minutes of in-person time with their counselor annually as they prepare to make postsecondary education and career decisions.
“It’s incredibly important that we do everything that to help our students reach their full potential,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This competition is an exciting opportunity to give our students the tools they need to plan for success in their career and educational pursuits.”
The agency stated that participants who are interested in the Challenge should submit their mobile app solutions by December 6, 2015. Up to five entrants will be selected to advance as finalists.
Finalists will be awarded $25,000 each and will have the opportunity to improve upon their submissions during the Virtual Accelerator Phase, which will include access to mentorship from IBM and Microsoft.
The Challenge winner(s) will win the remainder of the prize money and additional prizes, including IBM Global Entrepreneurship Program Credits, Microsoft BizSpark Plus, and free hosting services.
For a complete list of Challenge rules, access to APIs, and to submit a concept, one may visit www.reachhigherchallenge.com.
Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Fellow
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