Grand Challenge to Boost Literacy Kicks Off with Star-Packed Event

November 10, 2011

On November 18, The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the nonprofit organization World Vision will launch All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, with support from the DAI-implemented Grand Challenges for Development project.

The event will kickstart a focused and incentivized effort to maximize the power of the global crowd to address the fact that one in four people in the world today cannot read—and numerous students are finishing primary school without basic literacy skills. USAID Administrator Raj Shah will be joined at the event by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, Sesame Street’s Elmo, and Master of Ceremonies Alex Trebek, host of TV game show “Jeopardy.”

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development invites innovators from around the world to develop solutions that enable reading and overcome barriers to literacy. By leveraging the power of research, capitalizing on innovation, catalyzing partnerships, and increasing the use of science, technology, and 21st century infrastructure, the initiative expects to achieve substantial global impacts in early grade reading. The challenge is a multiyear initiative beginning with the launch, and DAI will work with USAID to engage the community of solvers throughout the lifetime of the challenge.

All Children Reading will also introduce a new group that individuals are invited to join: Mobiles for Reading. Mobiles for Reading is a community dedicated to the use of mobile technology to improve outcomes in reading, particularly in the early grades. The group will host events, discussions, and activities devoted to the use of mobile technology to promote literacy.

To learn more about All Children Reading, visit allchildrenreading.org or follow @AllChildrenReading on Twitter.

Grand Challenges are definable, quantifiable goals that can be achieved over a specified time frame. A priority of Shah, the challenges incentivize problem solving and promote partnerships to enact transformational, scalable, and sustainable change. DAI will help USAID to define the Grand Challenges for Development and also work with the innovation team in USAID’s Office of Science and Technology to launch new incentive models, such as prizes, to find nontraditional approaches to problem solving.

This initiative builds on work completed by DAI under the Global Development Commons component of the Global Development Alliance program. In particular, the Grand Challenges for Development initiative extends learnings from USAID’s Development 2.0 Challenge, which uses prize competitions to spur innovation.

The Grand Challenges for Development initiative garnered considerable buzz around the first Grand Challenge: Saving Lives at Birth. More than 600 proposals were submitted for the Saving Lives at Birth Challenge, and more than 150 came from organizations based in developing countries.

Stay tuned for future Grand Challenges, including Powering Agriculture and More Drops per Crop.

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