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Mayor Awards Prizes for Innovations That Fuel College Degrees

Wednesday April 24, 2013

Gheens Foundation sponsors competition to spark
technology-based concepts for increasing college graduates

Two teams with innovative concepts that use technology to increase the number of college graduates will split a $20,000 grand prize in the 55,000 Degrees Innovation in Education Attainment Competition.

Mayor Greg Fischer today presented checks for $10,000 each to the teams who beat out more than 90 competitors in Louisville’s first-ever quest for knowledge-building innovations sponsored by the Gheens Foundation.

The awards will be used to help the winners convert their concepts into marketplace realities that can help Louisville achieve its goal of 55,000 additional college degrees by 2020.

“With these awards, we’re investing in the future of Louisville with innovations that can spur more people to earn a college degree, the key to building a more secure future for themselves and their families,” Fischer said.

The prizes were awarded to:

· Keys to Degrees, a mobile phone app and web service to assist in college selection and tracking success toward an undergraduate degree for adult students in Louisville. Dr. Penny Smith, assistant provost for outreach and extended programs at Kentucky State University, has created an app that surveys potential students on a wide range of issues and then serves them specific information about college programs and financial aid depending on their needs. It helps cut through the clutter of college websites to give students the information they need.

· University of Louisville Workforce Leadership and Organizational Leadership and Learning. Two U of L faculty members, Drs. Matt Bergman and Kevin Rose, plan to expand the successful program targeted at adult learners. Their funds will be used to replicate their current efforts in other regional institutions, to create a marketing campaign to increase awareness of the program, and to create an introductory Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for anyone in the world to take for free.

The competition drew ideas from across the country, but the winning innovations came from Kentuckians, said Mary Gwen Wheeler, executive director of 55,000 Degrees.

“It’s exciting to see entrepreneurs from our community and our commonwealth focusing their ideas on increasing the number of college graduates here and positioning Louisville for the future,” she said.

For more information about 55,000 Degrees and to join the movement, go to www.55000degrees.org.