All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development Launches $100,000 Prize Competition for Book Writing Software

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“Enabling Writers” global prize competition aims to improve reading skills through technology

Waltham, MA–All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) announced Thursday the launch of “Enabling Writers,” a $100,000 prize competition to incentivize the design of technology that helps writers draft materials to improve reading skills of children in developing countries.

The global competition seeks to spur the development of software solutions that allow authors to easily write and publish texts in mother tongue languages to help early-grade students learn to read. To solve this important challenge, ACR GCD aims to attract individuals, companies and communities from all fields, but especially the software development, digital literacy and education communities.

One of the main barriers to improving children’s reading skills is the lack of appropriate and engaging reading materials in local languages, meaning children are unable to get the reading practice they need in the language they know best.

“Literacy is the cornerstone of economic and social development—but millions of children around the world still lack basic access to books in their native language,” said Christie Vilsack, Senior Advisor for International Education for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “To strengthen global literacy we need to first bolster access to suitable early-grade reading materials, and that means starting at the beginning by making it easier, faster and more affordable to produce age- and language-appropriate books that kids want to read.”

The ACR GCD partners: USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government, have created the ‘Enabling Writers’ prize competition to drive the development of new software technologies—and the improvement of existing programs—that make it easier, cheaper and faster to write high-quality early-grade reading materials.

The prize competition, powered by InnoCentive, a global leader in crowdsourcing innovation problems, is one of several technology-for-literacy competitions that ACR GCD will launch in 2014. The prize competition format, newly implemented in Round 2 of ACR GCD, is part of the initiative’s strategy to expand its network of innovators and solvers tackling specific problems where an injection of innovation, a new approach, or a new product will move the needle in getting all children reading. ‘Enabling Writers’ will award a grand prize of $100,000 for software that helps authors create books and other reading materials for students after receiving less than 20 hours of training. Applicants must design a solution or product that provides user-friendly directions and prompts in a common national language, while allowing authors to write in local languages.

This press release available in Arabic, Hindi, Mardarin, Spanish, Portuguese and French here.

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