Nov 13 2019


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Bottom Row (left to right)
Shlomy Kattan, Michele Diecuch, Jackie Aguilera, Jen Vanek, Silja Kallenbach, Denine Torr

Top Row
Pete Zagone, Peter Waite, British Robinson, Alison Webber, Paul Landa, Kevin Morgan

First-of-its-kind competition aims to transform the lives of 36 million adult learners comes to a close; Teams in Syracuse and Houston named winners

WASHINGTON (November 13, 2019) - Today, XPRIZE, the global leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges—along with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation—announced the winners of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition, a national competition challenging communities and organizations across the country to empower adults with low literacy skills to download and use free and effective mobile learning tools.

The Communities Competition is the second phase of the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, which culminated in February 2019 with the announcement of two grand prize winners. The Communities Competition incentivized organizations, communities and individuals to recruit adult learners to download and use the apps developed by four of the finalist teams in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE, which challenged teams across the globe to develop apps for existing smart devices that result in the greatest increase in literacy skills among participating adult learners.

In the latest phase, competitors across three tiers competed to have the largest number of participants download an app and subsequently use the app on at least three separate days, including the day on which they downloaded the app. To win its tier, a team must first attain the minimum threshold of participant downloads for the tier in which it is competing, including a minimum of 5,000 downloads for Tier 1 and 1,500 for Tier 2. There was no minimum threshold for Tier 3.

During the Communities Competition, a total of $800,000 was awarded in two parts, with $500,000 in milestone awards awarded to 24 finalist teams in April and a $300,000 prize purse that will be split between the teams that went on to recruit the most adult learners to download and use the apps. After carefully reviewing the final data, the judges declared the following two teams recruited the highest amount of adult learners within their tiers:

●     ProLiteracy (Awarded $100,000 for Tier 2): Based in Syracuse, New York and led by Michele Diecuch, ProLiteracy promotes adult literacy through content development, programs, and advocacy.

●     Adult Literacy Partners of Houston (Awarded $50,000 for Tier 3): Based in Houston, Texas and led by Pete Zagone, Adult Literacy Partners of Houston was formed in August 2018 by Memorial Assistance Ministries, EastSide University, and Community Family Centers to compete in the competition.

Additionally, team World Education and its partners in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia will receive a $150,000 achievement award for efforts in Tier 1 recruiting learners across the nation.

"For both our Adult Literacy XPRIZE and our Communities Competition, local organizations and communities have played a key role in building and distributing these game-changing technologies,” said Shlomy Kattan of XPRIZE. “We’re excited to award and celebrate these teams for the impact they have had in their respective communities, and are looking forward to working with other communities across the world to encourage the use of these apps and ultimately transform the lives of millions of adults who currently lack basic reading skills."

With research showing that 77 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and the $1M Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition aim to dramatically change the way the U.S. meets the needs of the 36 million adults with low literacy skills, by tackling the largest obstacles to achieving basic literacy – access, retention and scale.

“We are proud to partner with the XPRIZE Foundation, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and these winning teams to increase access to educational resources for students at times that are convenient to their lives,” said Denine Torr, executive director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. “We look forward to advancing the learnings from the Adult Literacy XPRIZE and Communities Competition to explore new ways to uplift and empower teachers and students for success.”

“The Adult Literacy XPRIZE was our first big idea—a global call to action to engage the best and brightest minds out there in creating solutions to one of the great solvable problems of our time,” said British A. Robinson, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. “We’re invigorated by the work the teams and communities have undertaken, and looking forward to continuing this innovation into the future.”

For more information about the Adult Literacy XPRIZE and the Communities Competition, visit  and



XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE and the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE. For more information, visit 

About Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has been the nation’s leading advocate for family literacy for three decades. The Foundation was established by former First Lady Barbara Bush in 1989, inspired by her vision of fostering the opportunity for every man, woman, and child to secure a better life through literacy. Today, the Foundation is a public charity that remains committed to Mrs. Bush’s vision, providing innovative programs and services to ensure that every American has the opportunity to learn to read and write. To learn more, visit

About Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is proud to support initiatives that help others improve their lives through literacy and education. Since its inception in 1993, the Foundation has awarded more than $172 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 11 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. To learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, visit