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Chicago Advocates Rally for Adult Literacy, Showcase XPRIZE Literacy App

Literacy apps are designed to reach adult learners who don’t have access to classes

XPRIZE—the global leader in designing and operating world-changing incentive competitions— presented its national literacy initiative, the Adult Literacy XPRIZE $1M Communities Competition, at a rally and information session Thursday with local community organizations and literacy partners at the James R. Thompson Center.

“XPRIZE specifically chose to target Chicago in its outreach because of the number of various organizations that support literacy efforts across the region,” said Haneen Khalaf, a senior associate with XPRIZE. “Yet even with the amount of organizations that are trying to combat adult low literacy rates, 37 percent of adults in Chicago still read at or below a third grade level. We are trying to make learning as accessible to everyone as we possibly can.”

XPRIZE is trying to improve those numbers via smartphone apps. The organization is conducting a competition to develop an app that is most effective in improving reading skills.

XPRIZE and the Chicago Literacy Alliance hosted community organizations at the Literacenter.

“This year our rally was about getting adult learners registered to vote and getting more involved in the community,” said Jazmine Salas with the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition. “Reading is empowering and so it voting. That’s a point we wanted to make.”

This 15-month long national XPRIZE competition, sponsored by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, is challenging organizations, communities and individuals to recruit adults with low literacy skills to download and use free, private, field-tested mobile apps. The goal is to engage with one million adult learners in the United States – ultimately propelling education technology into the 21st century and beyond.

XPRIZXEs Haneen Khalaf at Chicago webThere are five finalist apps at this point. Twelve-thousand low literate adults are now field testing those apps. The idea behind this is that it is a self-sufficient tool that allows someone to learn. There are more than 36 million adults in the U.S. who lack basic English literacy, and only about five percent of them have access to educational services. So to reach the remaining 34 million adults XPRIZE is creating the apps, which must be user friendly to be effective. The winning app will be announced in January.

“By involving community stakeholders in cities like Chicago and across the country, we are one step closer to dramatically increasing access to adult basic education and English language learning for millions of learners, helping individuals and families gain the skills they need to unlock new opportunities and improve their lives,” said Shlomy Kattan, PhD., executive director of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE.

A total of $1 million will be awarded during the competition, with $500K available for teams and organizations who submit the most innovative, feasible and scalable plans to distribute the mobile learning tools, and $500K for teams who recruit the most adult learners to download and consistently use the learning apps, with the winning teams’ shares determined by the number of adult learners they engage.

Education institutions, non-profits, NGOs, government agencies, companies, corporations and individuals are encouraged to register through the Communities Competition website and complete an application by December 21, 2018.


XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE and the $1.75M Water Abundance XPRIZE. For more information, visit

About the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, a public charity, is the nation’s leading advocate for family literacy. The Foundation was established by former first lady Barbara Bush in 1989, and today remains committed to her vision of fostering the opportunity for every man, woman and child to secure a better life through literacy. To learn more, visit or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter (@BarbaraBushFdn).

About the Dollar General Literacy Foundation
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is proud to support initiatives that help others improve their lives through literacy and education. Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $154 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping nearly ten million individuals take their first steps toward literacy or continued education. For more information about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and its grant programs, visit

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