Alex Trebek, VIPs Urge Innovators to Compete for Funding to Improve Global Literacy

March 16, 2012

Global donors urged innovators worldwide last week to compete for $7.5 million in newly available funding by submitting ideas to increase literacy among the world’s neediest children. Funding applications are due January 31.

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development” is being presented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Australian Aid, and World Vision, with support from the U.S. Department of Education.

The “All Children Reading” challenge follows this summer’s “Saving Lives at Birth” challenge that attracted 600 ideas, mostly from the developing world, for protecting newborns and their mothers. Nineteen of those were awarded seed funding, while three projects—for distributing antiseptics in Nepal, testing for HIV and syphilis in Rwanda, and utilizing mobile technology in Ghana—were nominated to receive funds to scale up current operations.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said that “All Children Reading,” like its predecessor, is determined to benefit people in communities that most lack opportunities or resources. “Technology, innovation, science, and insights gleaned from around the world can unlock a tremendous amount of human progress,” Shah said.

DAI is supporting USAID’s Office of Science and Technology in its strategy and implementation of the Grand Challenges for Development competitions.

About 800 people packed into the Ronald Reagan Building theater for the November 18 event, which was hosted by Alex Trebek, a longtime World Vision supporter and host of the “Jeopardy” TV quiz show.

“There is always a great thirst for knowledge among young people,” said Trebek, who has traveled to numerous countries on behalf of World Vision. “They want to learn; they want to develop. This will provide a bit of hope to people who are not able to read right now.”

Also endorsing the project were U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Kent Hill of World Vision, astronaut Leland Melvin of NASA, Graham Fletcher of the Embassy of Australia, Gene Sperling of the National Economic Council, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and USAID’s Nisha Biswal.

“Literacy is one basic skill that opens door after door,” said U.S. Congresswoman Nita Lowey. “Reading is the pathway to education, and education is a cornerstone of free and stable societies.”

For more information on the Grand Challenges literacy program and to apply for funding, click here.

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