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Adult Literacy XPRIZE Competition

Revolutionizing adult education

Launched on Mrs. Bush’s 90th birthday in 2015, the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation is a global competition that challenged teams to develop mobile applications for adult learners.

Adult learners face a distinct set of challenges. Most existing literacy programs are location-based and provide direct, in-person services, which can make it difficult for those with jobs or childcare needs to attend consistently. The competing teams were tasked with improving participating adults’ literacy skills in just twelve months. The teams had to solve for three key barriers to literacy: access, retention, and scale.


investment in adult literacy technology


participated in the competition


tied for Grand Prize-winning app

Technology solutions like mobile apps eliminate barriers for adults who cannot access a traditional classroom.
Our largest investment to date

Adult learners no longer have to be limited—technology can bring access to education and new opportunities. Innovative solutions like the XPRIZE bring hope and learning to millions of adults across our country and beyond. The Barbara Bush Foundation is invested in supporting innovative technology solutions to reach adult learners where they already are.

"Every single adult learner in this country deserves our deepest admiration and respect."

Transforming the lives of adult learners

The competition brought free literacy resources and apps to over 12,000 adult learners. The grand prize was split between two teams—Learning Upgrade and People ForWords. Both apps developed were easy-to-use and produced the most literacy growth in adult learners in just twelve months.

  • Learning Upgrade  (San Diego, California) – Led by Vinod Lobo, the team helps students learn English and math through gamification. This free app is available on both Android and iOS.
  • People ForWords  (Dallas, Texas) – “Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis,” a mobile game based on an archeological adventure storyline, helps adult learners improve their English reading skills. Developed by Southern Methodist University’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development in collaboration with SMU’s Guildhall and Literacy Instruction for Texas, the free app is currently available on Android.

To learn more about the winning teams, their technology solutions, and competition updates, visit XPRIZE.ORG.


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