About the challenge

Apprenticeships expand career opportunities, but many adult learners face barriers to accessing them. Pre-apprenticeships break down these barriers by helping adults enter, prepare for, and succeed in apprenticeships and other industry roles.

The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge invites AEFLA-funded adult education providers to design innovative and high-quality pre-apprenticeship programs — in any industry, anywhere in the United States.


The U.S. Department of Education announced 95 finalists on January 13, 2021. Finalists will refine their program designs in the Stage 2 virtual accelerator.


The challenge is being conducted in two stages. During Stage 1, all eligible organizations were invited to submit a preliminary design of a pre-apprenticeship program. Ninety-five finalists have been selected to progress to the Stage 2 virtual accelerator. At the end of Stage 2, a judging panel will select one grand-prize winner and up to five runners-up.

Stage 1: Open submissions

September 24 - November 25, 2020

Finalists announced

January 2021
We are here

Stage 2: Virtual accelerator

February - June 2021

Winners announced

Summer 2021


Total prize pool


In Stage 2, finalists will participate in a virtual accelerator, which will provide resources and support from subject matter experts to help them refine their program designs. A grand-prize winner will receive $250,000 and up to five runners-up will receive at least $100,000.


What are pre-apprenticeships, why are they important, and what makes programs effective? Find answers to these questions, review resources, and share suggested materials.