The U.S. Department of Education has announced the winners of its Future Finder Challenge, a $1 million challenge to reimagine career navigation for adult learners.

Gladeo, a minority- and women-owned public benefit corporation based in Los Angeles, has taken the grand prize in the challenge, and Workbay, a woman-owned business based in Franklin, Tenn., has been selected as the runner-up.

“Both recipients of earlier funding as finalists, the Gladeo team will receive an additional $500,000 and the Workbay team will receive an additional $250,000 to support the continued development and deployment of their digital career navigation tools,” the Education Department said.

“Delivering digital career navigation tools to adult learners will be critical to unlocking the full economic potential of the CHIPS and Science Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, and to transforming the lives of millions of Americans with foundational skill needs,” the agency said.

Gladeo uses research-based design to help adult learners build skills and confidence for quality careers. The company offers multilingual interventions, including digitized informational interviews, personalized resource recommendations, and an integrated program finder.

In a press release, the Department of Education noted that Gladeo provides learners with career information through inclusive video storytelling, and said this helps adult learners identify trustworthy education and skill building programs.

“By centering the experience and unique needs of adult learners, the Future Finder Challenge has accelerated the development and deployment of urgently needed solutions to build a more equitable future,” said Dr. Amy Loyd, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

“Gladeo’s and Workbay’s digital tools represent the forefront of technology innovation in adult education, and I’m thrilled that the adult learners we serve will benefit from their use as they build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their communities,” she said.

Workbay offers job seekers a community-specific mobile app and web-based platform that connects them to local resources as well as videos, learning content, and job postings. The department said that Workbay links recruitment with skill-building programs to help learners identify and successfully pursue local careers of interest. Through the Future Finder Challenge, Workbay focused on expanding its platform to support adults currently and formerly incarcerated, and worked with people who are incarcerated to test and refine its solution.

The department noted that each finalist in the challenge received $60,000, including a $50,000 cash prize and an additional $10,000 to support accelerator activities, and an invitation to join a six-month virtual accelerator.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs