Meet the Finalists of the Engaging Adult Learners in Higher Education Track | 2023-24 Tools Competition

We are excited to announce the 16 finalists named in the Engaging Adult Learners in Higher Education track of the 2023-24 Tools Competition!

In this track, 340 teams sought to increase the effectiveness and reach of higher education—particularly in support of adult learners—while advancing learning engineering as a whole.

Tools in this track are centered around increasing equitable access to education—driving retention, persistence, completion, and workforce readiness for adult learners in higher education. We saw tools that support self-directed learning, boost collaboration in online learning environments, and assist with career navigation, as well as tools to help adult learners practice real-world scenarios.

This track is run in partnership with Calbright College and Axim Collaborative.

Read on to learn about this year’s finalists. Winners will be announced in summer 2024.


Catalyst Award Level ($50,000) for early stage ideas or products.
  • CARES (Comprehensive Advising Recommendations for Educational Success) | Polis

CARES is a ML-driven recommender GPT that elevates 1:1 virtual advising in higher education by better matching advisors and adult students with each other—all while providing better insights on engagement in higher education. Learn more on their website.

  • DASH (Daily Assistance and Support Hub) | Fitalyst

DASH is a browser extension that transforms every new tab into a productivity interface to help students better allocate their time, effort, and resources. Learn more on their website.

  • Personalized, Timely, Proactive Faculty Support of Online Students | Western Governors University

Personalized, Timely, Proactive Faculty Support of Online Students is a suite of recommendation systems designed to improve faculty feedback and keep students enrolled—and on track.

  • Supporting Learning and SRL Across Courses with JeepyTA | University of Pennsylvania

JeepyTA—the automated teaching assistant—uses GPT 4.0 to interact with students in course discussion forums, answering questions and giving formative feedback and self-regulated learning support. Learn more on their website.

  • TimeWise (TIME Management Coaching for Empowerment with Willpower, Individualization, Strategy, and Excellence) | Submitted as an Individual

TimeWise chatbot is designed to address time management challenges for online adult learners through personalized coaching—embracing an agency-empowered approach through human-AI collaboration with three unique features to improve time management skills: empathetic coaching approach, context-aware personalization, and dynamic learner-profile-based response system.


Growth Award Level ($150,000) for products with some users and scale.
  • AI Advisor Assistant | CampusEvolve

The AI Advisor Assistant uses generative AI to accelerate every student’s path to success. Learn more on their website.

  • ISSAQ: Holistic Assessment for Student Success | DIA Higher Education Collaborators

ISSAQ helps educational organizations integrate key data on student noncognitive skills into student success initiatives like predictive analytics, advising, and first-year experiences. Learn more on their website.

  • Neuromatch: Using Large Language Models to Match Students with Identity-Matched Peer Groups for Collaborative Learning | Neuromatch, Inc.

Neuromatch is a matchmaking algorithm to help form student groups for collaborative learning. Learn more on their website.

  • Nota Bene | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Nota Bene is an open source social annotation platform specialized to the classroom, designed to help students learn by discussing course reading materials in the margins.  Learn more on their website.

  • OATutor-GenAI: Supporting STEM Mastery of Adult Learners in Higher Ed with AI-Generated Adaptive Tutoring | University of California, Berkeley

OATutor-GenAI is a foundational open source mastery learning software for adult learners based on generative AI research.  Learn more on their website.

  • Pathways | Cornell University

Pathways is an interest-driven academic and career exploration tool that shows authentic and holistic examples of how students have navigated their post-secondary education. Learn more on their website.

  • Unlocking Opportunity: Learning Engineering to Support Incarcerated Learners | Unlocked Labs

UnlockEd provides access to high-quality education for incarcerated learners, while creating the infrastructure needed to effectively analyze outcomes. Learn more on their website.

  • Wingspans: Leveraging Storytelling and AI for Human-Centered Career Discovery | Wingspans 

Wingspans is an immersive platform that leverages storytelling and AI to build a new and diverse workforce. Learn more on their website.


Transform Award Level ($300,000) for established platforms with 10,000 or more users.
  • 4U by Persistence Plus: Evidence-Based Support for Adult Learners | Persistence Plus

4U by Persistence Plus will enable colleges to seamlessly engage adult online learners with dynamic messaging that reacts to real-time learner behavior and personas. Learn more on their website.

  • Career Coach | Mainstay

Career Coach utilizes generative AI to have a dynamic conversation with an individual with the express purpose of presenting career pathways information to help them achieve their goals. Learn more on their website.

  • LearningClues: AI-Powered Personalized Help-Seeking Tools for Adult Learners | LearningClues

LearningClues leverages advanced search algorithms and generative AI to develop personalized study materials based on class sessions—facilitating enhanced learning outcomes for both college-age and adult learners, while also enabling data-driven insights for participating researchers. Learn more on their website.


See finalists for all tracks here.

The Tools Competition has three phases and multiple award levels to help winners create or enhance their tools. In this current third and final phase, finalists will pitch their tool before a panel of judges who will nominate winners of the competition. 

The Tools Competition has previously named 80 winners from 35 countries who are impacting more than 107 million learners worldwide. 

The 2023-24 Tools Competition is supported by: Schmidt Futures, Griffin Catalyst, Walton Family Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Siegel Family Endowment, DARPA, Ballmer Group, Calbright College, Axim Collaborative, Jacobs Foundation, Endless Network, and OpenAI. 

Join our mailing list to receive updates on the next competition cycle—launching September 2024!


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