New York, NY—Robin Hood, New York’s largest poverty fighting organization, ideas42, a leading behavioral ideas lab, along with The City University of New York (CUNY), the leading urban university system in the U.S., today announced the semi-finalists for The Robin Hood College Success Prize, a competition designed to identify scalable technology solutions to increase the three-year graduation rates of the most at-risk community college students—those enrolled in remedial courses.

The 18 semi-finalists, who will each receive $40,000 to further develop their products, were selected from a pool of 104 applicants.  In addition, the semi-finalists will be invited to participate in an interactive workshop with ideas42, where they will receive an in-depth look on how to apply behavioral science to improve the effectiveness of their products.

The competition received applications from a range of developer communities, including large public companies, startups, and universities.

  • Applicant teams included participants from 12 countries including Brazil, Canada, France, India, Italy, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and others.
  • The states with the largest percentage of applicants included New York with 33 percent and California with 18 percent.
  • 75 percent of applicant teams included both female and male designers.
  • 47 percent of submissions were based on tools specifically designed for this competition, while 30 percent were based on existing products, and 23 percent were adapted from current technologies.
  • Roughly 25 percent of the applicants were affiliated with a university and 10 percent of the applications were submitted by student teams. Applicants included teams from The City University of New York, Diablo Valley Community College (California), Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Colorado (Boulder), and Yale University.

“The Robin Hood College Success Prize brings the challenge of improving community college graduation rates to a broader audience, and we congratulate the semi-finalists and wish them well in this second phase of the competition,” said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken.

“The Robin Hood College Success Prize represents an incredible opportunity to make graduation day a reality for countless more community college students,” said Joshua Wright, Executive Director of ideas42. “We’re thrilled to help such a talented group of semi-finalists incorporate insights from behavioral science into their ideas and create a lasting impact on the lives of so many students.”

“Robin Hood’s mission of fighting poverty in New York City compels us to search for the unknown — innovative approaches that fire up the imagination because they hold out the promise of transformational change,” said Michael Weinstein, Economist and Chief Program Officer of Robin Hood.  “The College Success Prize holds out the promise of helping tens, perhaps even hundreds, of thousands of people around the country, and world, prosper in their adulthood rather than wallow in poverty.”

“The Robin Hood Prize inspired a host of high-potential, creative solutions to the widespread and stubbornly persistent problem of remediation,” said Nikki Edgecombe, Senior Research Associate, Teacher’s College, Columbia University.  “It was particularly exciting to see how the applicants gathered diverse teams of experts to develop solutions grounded in rigorous educational evidence coupled with the latest technological advancement.”

The 18 semi-finalists are:
1. Beyond 12
2. Carney Labs LLC
3. Core Skills Mastery
4. Dedicated
5. EdReady
6. Education Advisory Board
7. GetSet
8. GradGuru
9. JumpCourse
10. Kinvolved
11. Kipin Hall
12. KnowRe
13. LimeSpring
14. Mobilize Success with GPS LifePlan
15. Persistence Plus LLC
16. Ponder
17. Stanford Interventions Lab
18. Team InfoMe

Next Steps for The Robin Hood College Success Prize
Following the announcement, semi-finalists will have five months to continue developing their products before the Showcase Day in January 2015. The Showcase Day will provide an opportunity for semi- finalist teams to present their solution to the Judging Panel, which will select up to three finalists at the event. Those finalists will receive an additional $60,000 and an opportunity to take advantage of one-on-one coaching from ideas42.

The Robin Hood College Success Prize is unique in that the winner(s) will be determined through a 3-year randomized controlled trial among full-time students taking remedial courses at several CUNY community colleges. The randomized, controlled trial will commence in the fall of 2015 and will last until the fall of 2018. Robin Hood will award a Grand Prize of $3.5 million to the designer(s) of a technology solution that increases the three-year graduation rate of students who place into remedial courses by at least 15 percentage points (roughly doubling the current rate).  Two intermediate awards for improving year-over-year student persistence ($500,000) and 2-year graduation rates ($1 million) will also be offered during the randomized controlled trial, for a grand total of $5 million in prizes.

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