ACR GCD launches prizes to leverage the use and scale of EdTech solutions

The Digital Books in Action Prize and Sign Language Storybooks in Action Prize challenge innovators to think beyond access and availability

ACR GCD launches prizes to leverage the use and scale of EdTech solutions

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) has launched two new prizes with current awardees and collaborators to increase the use and scale of EdTech solutions.

Over the last 11 years, ACR GCD has funded innovators who have developed over 10,000 digital children’s books in underserved local and sign languages. These books are available on free, open-source platforms like Global Digital Library, eKitabu and Deaf World Around You. 

However, the presence of books does not necessarily mean they are being used in schools and homes.

“A tested and working solution that doesn’t go to scale doesn’t meet the goals of ACR. Going to scale is the ultimate goal of all the applications and innovations that we promote,” said ACR GCD Chief of Party Sergio Ramirez-Mena. “Hopefully, through these two prizes, we’ll be able to reach that goal.”

Digital Books in Action PrizeThe Digital Books in Action Prize and Sign Language in Action Prize incentivize innovators to develop ambitious scaling and sustainable use strategies. With these strategies in place, ACR GCD will ensure that families, communities and teachers use available digital books to help children learn to read in languages they use and understand.

Through the Digital Books in Action Prize, ACR GCD will award up to three prizes of $40,000 to awardees and partners who achieve the most significant growth in ACR GCD-funded digital book or app use by May 31, 2023.

Prizes will be awarded in three categories: More Books, More Places and More Partnerships. The “More Books” category will recognize the awardee who achieves the highest growth in digital book or app use, with an emphasis on an increase in users, digital views and downloads. The “More Places” category will be awarded to the competitor with the highest percentage increase in geographic reach. The last category, “More Partnerships,” seeks to spur the development of high impact and innovative partnerships that will increase the use of books. 

Winners will be announced in June 2023.

Sign Language Storybooks in Action PrizeCompetitors in the second prize, Sign Language Storybooks in Action, are proposing and implementing approaches to distribute, advertise and increase use of sign language storybooks.

Of the estimated 32 million children around the world who are deaf, 80 percent do not have access to education, and less than two percent receive education in sign language.

The goal of the Sign Language Storybooks in Action Prize is to change this disheartening statistic and increase access to and encourage children to read sign language storybooks, leading to improved literacy. ACR GCD will award one or multiple awards of up to $75,000 to local partners or disabled persons organizations (DPOs). The competition was open to applicants currently supporting the development of sign language storybooks with ACR GCD Begin with Books Awardees eKitabu, SIL International, Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf or The Asia Foundation in regions where sign language story books were produced under the Begin with Books challenge, including Fiji, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Mali.

With these two prizes, ACR GCD hopes to magnify the impact of EdTech solutions.

“I’m hoping it will demonstrate that you don’t need a lot of funding to bring it to scale. There are ways to leverage resources locally and persuade local stakeholders to use the books,” Ramirez-Mena said. “There is a lot of work to be done to increase access to sign language books, but these activities can demonstrate pathways for other innovators to reach scale.”

Be part of the solution!

For over a decade, ACR GCD has catalyzed innovation by assuming the risks of research and development to support and strengthen innovators who have developed EdTech solutions and tools to increase reading outcomes for marginalized children in low-resource contexts around the world. EdTech, when applied appropriately, can instigate breakthrough progress in advancing child literacy around the globe.

Explore our solutions to improve reading outcomes for children in low resource contexts, share these solutions and resources with others, or partner with us to scale a solution or innovation in your community.

By Jamie Brian. All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is a partnership between USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government.