Career and Technical Education

Reach Higher Career App Challenge Selects Grand Prize Winner

The CTE-focused challenge selected an app that uses a game-based approach to help middle and high school students discover career opportunities.

The team members of the winning app, Hats & Ladder, at Demo Day. Source: Reach Higher Career App Challenge.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced today the grand prize winner of the Reach Higher Career App Challenge, an open call to students, educators and others to create mobile solutions that help students navigate education and career pathways. ThinkZone Games won the challenge and will receive $100,000 and additional sponsor prizes valued at $300,000 for their app.

Hats & Ladders, a career exploration app, provides students with exposure to careers across industries. “Their game-based app Hats and Ladders helps middle and high school students explore a variety of careers through self-assessments, fun activities and mini challenges,” the First Lady said in a video announcement. “It’s a cool, exciting app that will open up a whole new world for our young people.”

The U.S. Department of Education launched the Reach Higher App Challenge nine months ago. After five finalists were announced in May, ThinkZone Games and the other four finalists participated in the 6-week Virtual Accelerator phase, during which the teams received support from mentors and experts in mobile design, business civic tech and career counseling to develop their apps. On Demo Day, July 7, the team presented their apps to a panel of judges, who ultimately selected Hats & Ladders as the winner. All five finalists will be invited to the Code for America Summit this November.

To watch the video announcement, visit the Reach Higher App Challenge blog. Further information about the app is available on the ThinkZone Games site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at

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