Education & Literacy


Access to quality education and literacy improves quality of life and creates more resilient communities. Approximately 57 million primary school-age children do not attend school. Over four out of five of these children live in rural areas. The cost of higher education is rapidly increasing with the price tag of a college degree in the US being 13 times higher than it was 40 years ago. There is a large and growing shortage of teachers. About 10% of the global population experience undernourishment which, for students decreases academic skill development in math, science and language, and increases the risk of a student dropping out. About half of the school buildings in the US are in disrepair and unfit for students, staff and teachers. Solutions must address these and more underlying factors in order to work effectively towards universal access to education and literacy.

The Challenge

The challenge for this track is to create innovative solutions that address the underlying barriers to quality education and literacy. Proposals may focus on the design, development or delivery of education and literacy solutions that can be domestic or international in scope. All proposals should clearly demonstrate the relationship between the proposed intervention and its impact on education and literacy.

Past Winners and Examples

Solutions may focus on several areas, including but not limited to:

  • Teacher training programs;
  • Increasing access to higher education for low-income and marginalized individuals;
  • Women’s academic empowerment programs;
  • School building and improvement of water and electricity access in schools;
  • Strategies, policies and technologies to promote education and literacy.
2017 3rd Place - Dost Education
2019 3rd Place - Thrive Education
2016 1st Place - LiftEd
2018 Honorable Mention - SEPET

RePurpose Energy

Team Members:

Ryan Barr, Joseph Lacap


UC Davis

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar’s long-term success “depends on the cost-effective integration of energy storage”. Already, excess solar power is often wasted, and California is only a third of the way to its 100% clean energy target. Achievement of this bold goal will require energy storage at scale to harness solar power after sunset. Meanwhile, California will have 5 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2030. Recycling their batteries is expensive, but reuse is economical; over 75% of an EV battery’s original capacity typically remains at the end of its useful life in a vehicle. RePurpose Energy tests, reassembles, and redeploys used electric vehicle batteries to provide commercial solar developers with energy storage solutions at half the cost of new battery alternatives, so they can offer more electricity bill savings, and California can accomplish its clean energy goals.

Thrive Education

Team Members:

Jack Rolo, Joshua Curry, Meryll Dindin, Jolie Lam


UC Berkeley

Thrive is reinventing the evaluation process for Learning Differences (LDs) to unlock the incredible potential of students with LDs. Thrive provides comprehensive video evaluations for LDs, using Masters/PhD level psychology students to complete the bulk of the work (roughly 4 hours per test between the test administration and 15-page report write up), while limiting the very expensive post-PhD psychologists’ time to roughly 30 minutes of ‘interpreting’ the results. This reorganization of the testing-supply chain, enabled by the tests being administered via video-conferencing, allows for huge cost savings and dramatically increases access. Additionally, Thrive is implementing machine learning on top of the evaluation data extracted from videos to enable higher-accuracy evaluations than any current method. This technology will drastically drive down both the cost of evaluations and the misdiagnosis rate and will reveal an unprecedented level of insight into LDs.


Team Members:

Andrew Hill


UC Berkeley

LiftEd is an iPad application that enables special education professionals to measure students’ academic & behavioral performance on individualized learning goals, analyze learning trends to modify instruction and intervention methods real-time, and ultimately share student progress with districts & parents on-demand. It resembles an EHR and acts as a centralized repository for a student’s case team to track progress, collaborate, and maintain a transferrable record longitudinally. LiftEd aims to strategically focus on schools to provide aggregate data for administrators that can aid in compliance with federal funding mandates. In addition to significantly saving educators time and providing the ability to work remotely, LiftEd also increases the transparency of student data for parents in order to mitigate risk of lawsuits. It also enables a real-time analysis of progress and modification to classroom activities in order to accelerate student learning. All of these features are accessible from a tablet. The flexible data collection methods and intuitive applied behavior analysis caters to all educators, not just advanced professionals in clinical settings.

Special Education Professional Enrichment Training

Team Members:

Juan Chen, Jason Wu


UC Riverside

Witnessing the long-standing and urgent social need for accessible and affordable professional training in special and inclusive education in Mainland China, the Special Education Professional Enrichment Training (SEPET) Team will establish a learning channel for special education professionals through China’s most popular mobile social application “WeChat.” This channel can hold mobile distance training courses and help disseminate open resources, functioning as a mobile resource hub with regard to inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream public schools within China and beyond. Through continuous and effective professional training and growth, course takers are enabled to better facilitate and ensure inclusion of school-aged children with disabilities in mainstream public schools by, in particular, tackling safety issues through behavior intervention and management.



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