HELPING KIDS MAKE IT INTO AND IN COLLEGE: Gates Foundation, in a session held today at Facebook, kicked
off a program called the "College Knowledge Challenge."
The foundation plans to award a total of $2.5 million--or approximately 30
grants between $50K to $100K apiece--to organized teams that have ideas for
applications aimed at helping students--especially low-income students--get
into college, succeed and graduate.
Childress, Deputy Director of
Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pointed
out that college degrees are a significant ticket to stable employment and wage
growth. US unemployment is stuck at 8.1%, she noted, but those with only a high
school degree are experiencing 8.8% unemployment. By contrast, the unemployment
rate of those with a college degree is about half--4.1%.
the Gates Foundation, we're increasingly focused on personalized
learning--namely, meeting every single student where they are so they get what
they need to be successful," Childress said. "Technology is not a
solution but a part of a set of solutions to help teachers, parents and
families," she said.
call for proposal, which opened today, seeks applications from companies and
organizations (technically groups with an EIN number)--not just ad hoc teams of
individuals. Childress said she hopes to see proposals that will address the
In addition, all the proposals are expected to link to or
use Facebook in some way. (Facebook is encouraging teams to use its developer site for tools and support.)
Challenge site also suggests a few other criteria, notably including that
the idea and plan must be something that can be implemented within a reasonable
amount of time.
Although those who propose apps will retain rights over the
intellectual property, they have to agree to make the product available for
free or "at reasonable cost" to those who need it.
Proposals are due by November 16; winners will be announced
by January 23. The winners will get 40% of the funds at the outset and the
remainder once they have built the application and it has been launched to
Most fundamentally, the challenge is about spurring
development teams to build applications that will make a difference: As the
site declares: "We are looking for apps that have the potential to change
the trajectory of young lives that are at risk of falling off the college-going
and college-completing path."