Education Reform

Moonshot Competition Seeks Ideas to Revolutionize Education

Two organizations, one liberal and the other conservative, have announced a joint project to seek new ideas that will "revolutionize schooling." The deadline for applications is August 1, 2019.

The "Moonshot for Kids" comes courtesy of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative American nonprofit education policy think tank, and the Center for American Progress (CAP), a public policy research and advocacy organization with a liberal outlook. The goal: to find "big R&D breakthroughs that might help America's 50 million K-12 students do dramatically better," as Fordham Institute President Michael Petrilli wrote in a March blog post.

Submissions need to address one of several specific "big goals":

  • To halve the number of fourth graders reading "below basic" level;

  • To make sure every student receives "high-quality" college and career advising by ninth grade;

  • To reduce the average time a student spends in English-language-learner status by 30 percent;

  • To double the number of eighth graders who can write "an effective persuasive essay";

  • To double the amount of "high-quality feedback" the average middle schooler receives on academic work;

  • To double the number of students from low-income families and students of color who graduate from high school with "remediation-free" scores on the SAT, ACT or similar exams; or

  • To double the number of female students who major in STEM fields.

An online portal where applications are being accepted asks for basic contact information and a brief description (500 words or fewer) of the solution. By Sept. 10, 2019, the Fordham and CAP teams will choose 10 finalists, each of whom will receive $1,000 and be asked to expand on their ideas in greater detail. In the fall, the two organizations will host a competition where the ideas will be evaluated by a panel of judges to choose a winner of a $10,000 grand prize.

From there, Fordham and CAP hope the idea will draw public or private investment.

The guidelines are available on the Fordham website, along with the application.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.