The Reach Higher Initiative and U.S. Department of Education Launch Mobile App $225K Competition to Help Students Prepare for their Future

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The Reach Higher Initiative and U.S. Department of Education Launch Mobile App $225K Competition to Help Students Prepare for their Future

Challenge Offers a Cash Prize Pool of $225,000, as Well as Over $240,000 in Additional Prizes
October 7, 2015

In effort to inspire students to pursue an education beyond high school, today, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) formally 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).

The First Lady announced the Challenge 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 First Lady Michelle Obama.

This Challenge seeks apps that will help students learn about all career options, while increasing 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.

Mobile app developers, educators, and data mavens are encouraged to participate in the Challenge. A panel of judges from education, technology and career guidance backgrounds will evaluate the submissions and recommend finalists and winner(s) for the challenge.

With a constantly evolving career landscape, students often need support in planning for careers and college. While the current career guidance and counseling infrastructure plays a critical role in assisting students, one in five high schools nationwide lacks a school counselor. In 2013, the national average student-to-school-counselor ratio for K-12 counselors was 482:1. As a result, 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.”

Those interested in participating 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, visit

Follow the Challenge:

Ed Prizes
The Reach Higher Career App Challenge is part of a series of prize competitions conducted by ED which seek to spur the development of new technology, products, and resources that will prepare students for the high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand occupations of tomorrow. The series is funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. Learn more at: