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U.S. Department of Education Announces National Rethink Adult Ed Pre-Apprenticeship Challenge Winners

Today, Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona, announced the grand-prize winner and the four runners-up in the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, a $750,000 competition to advance pre-apprenticeships. Over 10 months, the Department helped nearly 100 adult education providers create high-quality designs for programs that better prepare learners for apprenticeships — and will soon support more providers in developing their own programs through a virtual workshop and new self-paced online learning course.

The Department launched the challenge in September 2020 to address equity and access barriers and drive greater and more diverse participation in apprenticeships and the broader workforce. Pre-apprenticeships equip adult learners with the fundamental skills they need to succeed — opening up critical pathways into rewarding careers. During the Stage 2 virtual accelerator, 95 finalists in the national challenge received access to subject matter experts and a range of digital resources to help them refine their program designs.

“The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge proved the demand for training opportunities that are responsive to the evolving needs of American businesses — and our adult learners,” said Dr. Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education. “We are thrilled to recognize the high potential of these diverse programs and look forward to seeing their learners thrive in future careers.”

The challenge judging panel - which brought together experts in adult education, workforce development, and social services - selected the five winning designs out of 85 submissions from across 31 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. 

The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge winners represent California, Guam, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina and have designed programs spanning a range of industries, from construction and manufacturing to marine transportation and healthcare. 

Congratulations to the grand prize winner, who will receive $250,000:

  • Northampton Community College (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania). A manufacturing Pre-Apprenticeship to help participants build academic, digital, and workplace skills. Through the program, Northampton Community College aims to develop pathways into industrial maintenance careers while supporting expansion of the region’s second-largest employment sector.

Congratulations to the first runner-up, who will receive $200,000:

  • Guam Community College (Mangilao, Guam). A marine transportation Pre-Apprenticeship to help participants build shipyard and ship repair skills. Through the program, Guam Community College aims to develop direct pathways into ship repair apprenticeships while addressing high labor demand at local commercial shipyards and naval stations.

And congratulations to the following three runners-up, who will each receive $100,000:

  • Florence County Adult Education (Florence, South Carolina). A healthcare Pre-Apprenticeship to help participants build career readiness, literacy, and numeracy skills and achieve certified nurse assistant-related certifications. Through the program, Florence County Adult Education aims to develop pathways into a range of healthcare careers while increasing the quality and quantity of applicants in local apprenticeships and the larger workforce labor pool.
  • Mt. Hood Community College (Portland, Oregon). A construction Pre-Apprenticeship to help English language learners build academic, language, and workplace skills. Through the program, Mt. Hood Community College aims to provide career pathways to immigrants, refugees, and adults learning English while meeting local industry employment surges.
  • Mt. San Antonio College (Walnut, California). A healthcare Pre-Apprenticeship to help participants build math, English, and foundational theory skills while developing hands-on clinical experience. Through the program, Mt. San Antonio College aims to develop pathways into apprenticeships and careers while addressing high local demand for both training opportunities and healthcare professionals.

To help more adult education providers develop and deliver Pre-Apprenticeship programs, the Department will host a virtual workshop on September 23 during National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. The workshop will share learnings from the challenge and preview the Department’s new self-paced online learning course — accessible to providers across the United States.

To learn more about the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge and register for the free workshop, visit rethinkadulted.com.

The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge is part of a series of prize competitions that aim to spur development of new technology, products, and resources that will prepare students for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand careers. Learn more at rethinkadulted.com and follow the series at twitter.com/edprizes.

Rethink Adult Ed Workshop Social Graphic