Yes! The Tools Competition is eager to hear from participants from across the globe. Participants must be able to accept funds from US based entities.
Yes! We are eager to hear and support individuals who are new to the field. We encourage you to request a smaller award to be more competitive. Please take the eligibility quiz for more guidance.
We encourage you to apply and make a note of your conflict. For competitive solutions, we will try our best to make accommodations to allow you to participate in the competition despite the conflict. Email ToolsCompetition@the-learning-agency.com if you would like to discuss your specific circumstances.
Yes! Anyone 18 years or older is eligible, and we are eager to hear from people at all stages of the development process.
Please refer to the Official Rules. All participants must agree to these rules to compete.

Developing successful proposals

Please submit an initial concept for a proposal here. If you have any issues, email ToolsCompetition@the-learning-agency.com. Submissions will be accepted until October 1, 2021 11:59:59 EDT. We will not accept late submissions.
Yes, proposals must be in English.
Complete the eligibility quiz to determine how to make your solution most competitive. For general information, refer to the guidelines for award sizes. If you have additional questions, reach out to ToolsCompetition@the-learning-agency.com.
The Tools Competition seeks to spur new tools and technology. This means that something about the proposal needs to be fresh, innovative, or original.

For a Mid-Scale or Large Prize, this might be an API that will improve the platform or a new tool to improve effectiveness. Or it could mean adding infrastructure that allows outside researchers to access your data.

This does not mean you have to create a new tool or new platform. Proposals seeking a Mid-Scale or Large Prize should build off of what they have and what’s already having an impact.

The Tools Competition has a phased selection process in order to give competitors time and feedback to strengthen their tool and build a team. Proposals will be reviewed at each phase and selected submissions will be invited to submit to the next round.

For more information see here.

If you have questions about specific phases, reach out to ToolsCompetition@the-learning-agency.com .

Proposals will be evaluated against others within the same priority area. Proposals requesting a larger prize amount will be subject to greater scrutiny. At each stage of the competition, reviewers will evaluate proposals based on eligibility requirements for the prize bands as well as:
  • Potential impact and likelihood to improve learning
  • Attention to equity to support learning of historically marginalized populations
  • Ability to support rapid experimentation and continuous improvement
  • Ability to scale to additional users and/or domains
  • Team passion, and readiness to execute
Yes! Before the October 1st deadline, the organizing committee will host two informational webinars. A webinar is scheduled for July 27th from 12-1pm ET. Updates on how to register for the webinar will be posted here. Interested competitors are also welcome to reach out to ToolsCompetition@the-learning-agency.com with questions or feedback. Additional avenues for support will be emailed out to our email list, so please make sure to sign up by adding your email address to the window across the site. We also recommend joining the Learning Engineering Google Group. Opportunities for partnership and additional support are also frequently posted there.
The competition defines learning engineering as using computer science to pursue rapid experimentation and continuous improvement to improve student outcomes and better understand student learning. This means that you are not only using computer science to test the effectiveness of your tool, but also using data to rapidly improve the effectiveness of your tool or platform. Crucially, the insights generated through this analysis should be made available to education researchers so that the field of learning sciences is benefitted.

To learn about learning engineering, see the following articles:

Research Partnerships for Mid-Scale and Large Prizes

External researchers must be external to the immediate organization that is receiving the funds, but they may work for the same institution in another department.
You can include costs for external researchers, but ideally, your tool allows multiple researchers to leverage the data. Given that, your budget should cover establishing the infrastructure to allow external researchers to access your data. We anticipate interested researchers will be able to fundraise to conduct research using your data.

Competitors seeking a Mid-Scale or Large Prize must have commitment from one or more external researchers that they are interested in using the data from their platform by the time they submit their detailed proposal for Phase 2, which is due December 17th.

If you need help identifying a researcher, please reach out to
ToolsCompetition@the-learning-agency.com and we will share a list of researchers with demonstrated interest in supporting competitors.

This does not need to be a formal agreement, and the researcher does not need to have already secured funding. Instead, we want to see that you have started forming partnerships with outside researchers to share your data and consider how that will require you to adapt your tool.

Most importantly, the tool must be designed so that multiple researchers can access data from the platform over time. Given this, we assume that if the researcher you are working with falls through for a reason, you will be able to establish another partnership quickly. Regardless of lane, it must be able to support 2 researchers within a 2 year period.


The funding is a prize, not a grant. Therefore, there are no specific requirements on what costs are allowed or not allowed (within reason, of course). There are no specific requirements around indirect costs, either.

Proposals will be evaluated based on whether they are clear, concise, actionable, and attainable, with budgets that are aligned and realistic with what’s being proposed. Judges will evaluate how you will maximize your impact.

There is no definitive time period for the award. It is recommended that awarded proposals demonstrate significant progress by Product Review Day in Summer 2022 to receive the second installment of funds. This progress will be measured against the timeline for execution outlined in the proposal.

What happens after the competition?

Winners will receive their award by check or bank transfer in two installments.

Winners will receive the second installment of the prize after Product Development Day if they are making sufficient progress on the plan they outline in their Phase 2: Detailed proposal.

Winners will present during a virtual Product Review Day to their peers and others in the field to get feedback and perspective on their progress.

Approximately one year after winners are notified, winners will convene again to present their progress in a Demo Day.

Yes! At each phase, the organizers will compile lists of opportunities for additional funding, support, and partnership. We also encourage your team, if not selected, to stay in touch with the organizers through ToolsCompetition@the-learning-agency.com and the Learning Engineering Google Group.