Rural Tech Project challenges schools to improve distance learning, offers cash prize 


U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently announced the Rural Tech Project to advance high-quality technology instruction in rural communities. The Rural Tech Project is offering a total cash prize pool of $600,000. High schools and local educational agencies are invited to develop competency-based, distance learning programs that enable students to master skills at their own pace and prepare them for in-demand jobs.
Potential entrants can find additional resources online at and can join a virtual information session on July 21. Those interested in entering the challenge should submit a proposal for a competency-based program by 5:59 p.m. on Oct. 8. The online submission form asks for a program overview, including the delivery model, curriculum topics and intended collaboration with local employers and other partners.
Up to five finalists will each receive an equal share of the initial $500,000 prize pool and progress to Phase 2. From January to June 2021, finalists will develop detailed program plans and build partnerships before launching the program. Finalists will have access to technical assistance, expert mentors and virtual resources as they plan and test their programs for two academic years. Finalists will also be supported by a Community Engagement Manager, who will assist with on-the-ground setup, implementation and evaluation of each program. During Summer 2023, finalists will document their outcomes and learnings in a final submission; the judging panel will then recommend one grand-prize winner to receive an additional $100,000. The Rural Tech Project will compile insights from all finalists and share lessons learned as a resource for other communities.