Read about the winners here



Call for Proposals

Prize: $20,000

Your Opportunity:

Break through the barriers to college degree attainment and help 55,000 Degrees (55K) and the Gheens Foundation – leaders in education, business, government and civic life – increase the percentage of Louisville’s workforce with college diplomas from one-third to one-half. Help us earn 55,000 more post-secondary degrees by 2020.


Competition Goals:

1. Motivate and support Louisville area traditional and non-traditional students to earn a post-secondary degree

2. Employ technology-based approaches to improve degree completion rates and attract more college-educated people to Louisville



  • Identifying innovative technology-enabled solutions that contribute to the objectives of 55,000 Degrees:
    • Create and support a college going culture
    • Use the business community’s unique points of leverage to accelerate attainment
    • Prepare students for success in college, career, citizenship and life
    • Make post-secondary education accessible and affordable
    • Increase educational persistence, performance and progress
  • Raising the percentage of post-secondary degree attainment
  • Helping institutions and researchers better understand practices that lead to success for all students, regardless of their financial background or race, in completing college degrees

Applicant Criteria:

Collaborations between individuals, institutions and companies are eligible/

  • The 55K Competition is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. The best ideas come from the most unlikely of places.
  • Applicants may be public, private not-for-profit, or for-profit institutions/organizations and/or private entrepreneurs.
  • Coalitions or consortia, either pre-existing or created specifically for the purpose of the project
  • Applicants may collaborate with other entities, such as technology vendors or consulting firms, but the institution or inter-institutional body must be the primary applicant.


The competition for Innovation in Education Attainment has a two-round process.


Round I:

Call for idea proposals.  Applicants will submit their ideas through the 55,000 Degrees website. There is no limit to the number of ideas a single applicant may submit. A panel of judges will select applicants that will be recommended for Round II.

Open date: September 28, 2012

Close date: November 2, 2012, 11:59 p.m. EDT (UTC-04)


Web form to submit Round I Ideas for Proposals: closed.


Round II:

Innovation model demonstration and award announcement

Round II competition participants will be required to submit, at a minimum, a description of the project, a demonstrable working model or prototype, and a business model that describes sustainability and scalability. There will be a four month window from time of selection to final submission.


The process for submission and selection is as follows:

  • Round I winners will be notified that their proposal will advanced to Round II and invited to submit a detailed proposal and working model.
  • Round II competition winner (minimum of one, maximum of two) will receive an award, with support from the Gheens Foundation, of $20,000 (or $10,000 in the event of two winners).
  • 55K will collaborate with the Round II winner to identify additional opportunities for implementing and deploying the model.


Round II applicants will be required to:

  • Confirm that they understand the Terms and Conditions, Intellectual Property Policy, and Rules and Guidelines Document, and acknowledge that any information submitted on their behalf for 55K (including the proposal, reports, and any related documentation and communications) will be subject to and handled in accordance with such provisions.
  • Confirm their commitment to complying with the intellectual property requirements of the 55K, as stated in the NGLC Intellectual Property Policy.


Selection Process for both rounds

  1. 55K team members will screen submissions to ensure proposals address the key criteria. We will screen for unrelated proposals as well as submissions that are ineligible. Applications excluded during the screening process will be notified that their proposals were declined.
  1. 55K judges review initial proposals. Initial proposals will be considered on their individual merits. The authors of initial proposals selected for the next stage of review will be invited to submit final proposals.
  1. Final proposals will be reviewed for due diligence to ensure that the potential grantee is an appropriate recipient of funding.
  1. Panel of judges will select award recipients and announce awards.