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Calbright College and Axim Collaborative Partner to Sponsor Tools Competition Driving Innovations to Engage Adult Learners

Sacramento, Calif., October 3, 2023 – Today, Calbright College announced it will sponsor the 2023-2024 Learning Engineering Tools Competition, a multi-million dollar competition for edtech innovation. Specifically within the competition, Calbright is partnering with Axim Collaborative to launch the Engaging Adult Learners in Higher Education track, which focuses on tools that strengthen outcomes for adult learners. The annual Tools Competition launched in 2020 to bring together the best minds to accelerate learning outcomes for all students and boost collaboration between technologists, researchers, and educators. It is hosted by Georgia State University and The Learning Agency, with participation from leading philanthropic entities including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and Schmidt Futures.

“At the heart of Calbright’s mission is the need to invest in adult learners. As Calbright grows, we’re collaborating with partners like Axim Collaborative, Georgia State University, and Schmidt Futures to accelerate innovation and leverage new approaches to support adult learner success,” said Calbright President and CEO Ajita Talwalker Menon. “Not only will this competition serve Calbright students, the community colleges system, and the 6.8 million Californians without a degree, but it will advance the learning sciences field and support scaling those solutions for the more than 40 million working-age adults nationwide with some college credits but no degree. It’s critical we catalyze progress and build these innovations into our operations as early as possible to create the greatest benefit and drive educational and career outcomes for non-traditional students.”

Calbright’s founding legislation calls for the College to serve as a research and development engine to expand options for adult learners across the California Community Colleges system and help solve the complex equation of how to best nurture adult learner success. Now, with more than 3,300 students, the rapidly growing College continues to invest in the development, evaluation, and continuous improvement of its programs and operations to best support its students and align with the California Community Colleges Vision 2030 to break down barriers for adult learners. 

The Engaging Adult Learners in Higher Education competition track is designed to support tools that increase the effectiveness and reach of higher education, particularly in support of non-traditional adult learners. Competitors in this track should propose solutions that increase equitable education, support learners in engaging in and successfully completing learning experiences, and/or navigate career pathways.

The track is particularly focused on innovations that:

  • Drive retention, persistence, completion, and workforce readiness in higher education;
  • Boost community, belonging, and connection to peers and others in online learning spaces;
  • Foster self-directed learning skills; and,
  • Provide scalable timely support and interventions that enhance and complement human interactions with students.

In addition to the overall criteria and rubrics, a subset of awards will be reserved for proposals that: leverage Generative AI or Large Language Models, target working adult learners in a fully online learning environment, and serve learners in the state of California. Competitors from all backgrounds and phases of development are encouraged to apply for awards of $50,000, $150,000, or $300,000. Calbright will also support the Implementation and Impact Prize, an additional award for applicants who are interested in piloting their tools within the Calbright environment. 

This year’s competition will award more than $5.5 million across all tracks, including Calbright’s sponsorship of one million dollars for the Engaging Adults Learners in Higher Education track. To date, the competition has awarded $9.5 million in funds to 80 organizations, impacting more than 107 million learners worldwide. A track-specific information session, hosted by Calbright and Axim Collaborative, will be held on October 23, 2023 from 10-11am PT. Interested parties may submit their abstract for consideration in the 2023-2024 Tools Competition by November 10, 2023. 

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