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2023-24 Tools Competition

Preparing for the 21st Century World


Finalists for this track have been announced. Learn more here.

Phase III results were released on April 4, 2024. For Phase II competitors, please contact our team at if you would like to receive feedback on your Phase II proposal. 

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Learn About the Track

Track Description

Tools that increase the relevance of instruction to build 21st century skills and prepare students to navigate the changing world. Competitors in this track may propose solutions that support students to master subjects relevant to the modern economy, develop durable skills, and plan for their futures.

This track aims to support students in getting “life-ready,” with the skills that are in demand by the changing world and competencies necessary to achieve big goals. Solutions will help students process information, tackle problems, make decisions, and work together. 

This may include, but is not limited to, tools that:

21st century skills have become essential to remaining adaptive as the demands of the economy are ever-changing and the information age requires us to consume and apply knowledge in new and creative ways. Beyond core content areas, students must develop literacy skills in information, technology, and the media to keep pace. From the early childhood level, a focus on social-emotional and other durable skills has a positive impact on academic achievement. At the job level, according to a McKinsey report, companies are increasingly prioritizing social-emotional, advanced cognitive, and digital literacy skillsets in the workplace. We need more tools to cultivate these skillsets in learners at all levels.

Competitive tools should facilitate continuous data collection and support research insights on factors affecting learning outcomes for diverse student populations and learning conditions.

Target User/Audience

Tools should target Pre-K through secondary learners or educators as the primary user group.

Who should submit?

Competitors worldwide are invited to submit (see the official rules for any restrictions). We welcome proposals from teams or individuals from all backgrounds, including edtech companies, researchers/universities, educators, or students (undergraduate or graduate).

Competitive Priorities

Based on the most pressing needs in learning and learning technologies, a subset of awards will be reserved for tools that:


While the Tools Competition has different tracks and competitive priorities from year to year, the winning tools below are examples of what would be considered compelling for the Preparing for the 21st Century World track in this year’s competition.


Tools Competition judges play a critical role in selecting Tools Competition Winners and bring expertise spanning philanthropy, research, industry, and education. Judges will hear virtual pitches from finalists in Phase III of the competition.

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Christopher Bezsylko

Head of School
Imagination Lab School
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Kevin Bromer

ED Head of Technology & Data Strategy
Ballmer Group
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Ali Chin

Grantmaking Manager
Siegel Family Endowment
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Nick Ehrmann

Managing Director, Impact
Arena Holdings
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Josh Elder

Vice President & Head of Grantmaking
Siegel Family Endowment
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Giovana Espejo

Program Officer
Schultz Family Foundation
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Hannah Ferris

Secondary Teacher
Dallas ISD
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Barbara Glover

Programme Officer: APET
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Henry Hipps

Diffusion Venture Studio
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Sarah Holloway

Faculty, Senior Fellow for Social Impact
Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
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Tanya Howden

Founder & Educator
Lassies in STEM
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David Hylden

Co-Founding Partner
Prevail Fund
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Doug Jaffe

Coherence Fund
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Jared Joiner

Director, Education Practice to Product
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
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Asyia Kazmi, OBE

Global Education Policy Lead
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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Rubayat Khan

Entrepreneur in Residence
Endless Network
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Alex Nawar

Social Impact Partnerships
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Rebecca Novak

Director, K-12 Education and Data Science
Valhalla Foundation
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Frank Odayo

Curriculum Development & Implementation Consultant
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Kevin O’Neil

Managing Director, New Frontiers
The Rockefeller Foundation
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Daniel Sacks

Consultant & Advisor
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Ben Shapiro

Assistant Professor
Georgia State University
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Kristen Silvas

Instructional Designer/Educator
Quality School International Astana
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LaVerne Srinivasan

Vice President, National Program and Program Director, Education
Carnegie Corporation of New York
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Chéla Wallace

STEM Education Leader/Education Consultant
KIPP NYC/Independent Consultant
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John Whitmer

Senior Fellow
Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

Compete in this Track

1. Select your award level

When submitting a proposal, competitors must select the relevant award level based on the size and scale of their tool. Proposals at all award levels should detail how the proposed tool will solve a defined problem, rather than focus on past achievements.

Catalyst Level Awards: $50,000

These awards are designed for early-stage competitors.

Growth Level Awards: $150,000

These awards are designed for competitors with a tool with some users and scale.

Transform Level Awards : $300,000

These awards are designed for advanced competitors with an established tool.

2. Apply for the OpenAI Learning Impact Prize

Determine whether you are eligible to apply for the OpenAI Learning Impact Prize (optional).

In partnership with OpenAI, the Tools Competition is thrilled to offer the OpenAI Learning Impact Prize to catalyze the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on learning outcomes and drive edtech innovation leveraging advanced computational methods.

OpenAI will select up to three recipients of the OpenAI Learning Impact Prize among competition winners who will receive $100,000 in additional funds, $10,000 in OpenAI API credits, and technical guidance from OpenAI engineers. Select contenders will also receive $2,500 in OpenAI API credits.

Given the rise of ChatGPT and growing interest in the possibilities of AI in educational settings, the 2023-24 competition is especially interested in supporting teams that are exploring, testing, or using AI-enabled tools and services to impact learning.

Competitors across all tracks that indicate an interest in being considered for this award will complete additional requirements when submitting their proposal materials. 

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Proposals will be evaluated for the following criteria



Novelty of the tool
and technology



Potential impact and likelihood to improve learning



Attention to equity to support learning of historically marginalized populations



Demand from learners, families, and educators



Ability to support learning engineering



Ability to scale to additional users and/or domains

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What is a Tool?

The Tools Competition funds edtech tools and technologies that support learning outcomes and can contribute to learning science research.

Eligible tools have the potential to generate novel learning data that researchers can study to better understand learning at scale. This may include an app, software, algorithm, or other digital technology that facilitates or supports continuous data collection and has the potential to scale at minimal cost.

Please note that this definition is not exhaustive. As technology continues to develop and innovations are created globally, other tool concepts may also be competitive.

Not sure your tool is eligible? Explore winning tools from previous years or get in touch.



September 21, 2023
Competition Launch
November 10, 2023
Deadline for Phase I Abstracts

Competitors submit an abstract describing the concept for their tool and responding to the evaluation criteria.

December 8, 2023
Select competitors invited to Phase II
February 2, 2024
Deadline for Phase II Proposals

Competitors develop a proposal and budget detailing their tool and its technology and responding in detail to the evaluation criteria. Rubrics will be posted when Phase II opens.

April 2024
Finalists invited to Phase III pitches
April-May 2024
Phase III Pitches (virtual)
Finalists pitch before a panel of expert judges and have the opportunity for support and feedback in crafting their pitch.
June 2024
Winners Announced
Winners are announced and receive the first installment of their award. Winners receive coaching, the opportunity to connect with leaders in the field, and the ability to present to researchers or to refine their tool.
Year Following the Competition - Winner Impact Study
All winners will work with Georgia State University during the year following the competition to define impact measures for their tool and set up processes for ongoing data collection and evaluation.
December 2024
Product Review Day
Winners present on their progress to date and receive feedback from other winners and leaders in the field. Progress is considered against winner’s proposal and receive the second installment of their award after Product Review Day.
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Explore a Different Track

Meet the finalists for the Building an Adaptive & Competitive Workforce track here. Meet the finalists for all other tracks here.