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  • Michelle Obama's HE apps

    - Michelle Obama’s initiative for HE-ambition and success delivers topical, very 21st century tools. There are now 5 finalists in the Reach Higher Career App Challenge. “I'm asking you to put your heads together and design new mobile apps that will connect students with the programs and jobs they need to fulfill their dreams."

    This App Challenge is a new prize 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 challenge is aimed at inspiring the development of apps for middle and high school students that will help them learn about career options, while increasing the capacity of career counselors to assist students in planning for their futures. The apps will include integrated tools to assess student skills and interests, and offer information on occupations, education options, credentials, and career-seeking skills.

    Fulfilling dreams by apps

    First Lady Michelle Obama announced the launch of the challenge last fall, putting out the call for new technologies to help students plan for the future. "To all the app developers, educators, career counselors, business leaders, and everyone else who wants to help young people succeed, I'm asking you to put your heads together and design new mobile apps that will connect students with the programs and jobs they need to fulfill their dreams," she said at the time.

    The five finalists are:

    •Future Plans® by Pinellas Education Foundation — a career discovery app that assesses student aptitudes and interests to map educational pathways with in-demand career choices.

    •Hats & Ladders by ThinkZone Games — a game-based app that supports middle and high school career exploration with swipe-to-choose self-assessments, connected activities, and mini-challenges.

    •INFORM® Journeys by Edmin.com, Inc — an interactive learning map app created to help students explore life's possibilities as they navigate through K-12, CTE, college/university, military service, and/or vocational training.

    •MARi by MARi LLC — a school and career coach app that brings together assessments, capability mapping, and achievement validation, along with personalized career and education opportunities into a comprehensive map of the labor market.

    •Overgrad by Overgrad, Inc. — a web platform that leverages community resources, technology, and data to support long-term student outcomes. 

    Demo Day is coming

    These five were selected based on recommendations by a panel of external judges with expertise in career counseling, workforce development, CTE, educational technology and business scaling.

    Each finalist will receive $25,000 and proceed to the next phase of the competition to improve their concepts with support from subject matter experts in design, business modeling, civic tech, and career counseling. This phase will culminate in a Demo Day where finalists will present their refined concepts and demonstrate prototypes to the panel of judges. Ultimately, one grand prize winner will be announced later this year, and will win $100,000 and additional prizes donated by IBM and Microsoft.