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US DOE Rural Tech Project

The Rural Tech Project is a $600,000 challenge to advance rural technology education and prepare students for the careers of today and tomorrow. The Rural Tech Project will empower educators with resources to create technology education programs that are customized for their students and local needs. This open innovation challenge will use flexible delivery methods, including distance and blended learning, as well as competency-based education — a learning approach enabling students to master skills at their own pace — to provide high school students with advanced technology skills. By advancing technology skills development, rural communities can help their students prepare for rewarding career opportunities.

Eligibility: A secondary school, high school, or LEA receiving ESEA funds that delivers education to students between grades 9 and 12; AND Serving students from a rural community; an entrant may self-define their rural status based on an existing Federal definition. Commonly used Federal definitions include but are not limited to:

*An area that has fewer than 50,000 inhabitants and is not located adjacent to an urban area (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture).

*A non-urban area, where an urban area is either an “Urbanized Area” with a population of 50,000 or more, or an “Urban Cluster” with a population of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 (according to the U.S. Census Bureau).

*A secondary school or high school located in an area with a “rural” locale code (41, 42 or 43) (according to the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics).

*A place defined, identified, or otherwise recognized as rural by the State or a governmental agency of the State in which the area is located.


*Phase 1 of the Rural Tech Project is open to any publicly funded school or local educational agency that delivers education to a rural community and to students in grades 9-12. Eligible entrants are invited to submit proposals for a competency-based distance learning program that describes the delivery model, curriculum topics, and intended connections with local employers and other partners. When developing program proposals, entrants are encouraged to collaborate with the communities they serve. The judging panel will recommend up to five finalists to each receive an equal share of the $500,000 prize pool and progress to

*Phase 2. From January to June 2021, finalists will develop detailed program plans and build partnerships before programs launch. They will have access to virtual resources and on-the-ground assistance as they plan, run, and refine their programs for two academic years. During summer 2023, finalists will document their outcomes and learnings in their final submissions; the judging panel will then recommend one grand-prize winner to receive an additional $100,000.

Deadline: October 8, 2020

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