Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced the grand-prize winner and the four runners-up in the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, a $750,000 competition to advance pre-apprenticeships. 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, Guam, and the District of Columbia.

Through the national challenge, the Department aimed to address equity and access barriers and drive greater and more diverse participation in apprenticeships and the broader workforce. High-quality pre-apprenticeship programs align to industry demand, set clear pathways into apprenticeships and other industry roles, and provide support services for their participants.

“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. We are thrilled to recognize the high potential of these diverse programs and look forward to seeing their learners thrive in future careers.”
Dr. Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education

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.

What comes next: Register for the September 23 workshop

To help more adult education providers develop and deliver pre-apprenticeship programs, the Department will host a virtual workshop on September 23. The workshop will share learnings from the challenge and preview the Department’s Creating Adult Pre-Apprenticeships course — accessible to providers across the United States.

The new course is designed to help adult education providers develop new programs, as well as support providers who are refining existing pre-apprenticeships or implementing similar integrated education and training programs. It will include examples and resources that are relevant to a range of adult education providers and a variety of industries.

Be the first to know about future Ed Prizes challenges

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. Sign up for the Ed Prizes newsletter and follow Ed Prizes on Twitter to receive future updates.