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Challenge Sponsor Spotlight: US Department of Education

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Over the course of the Future of Higher Ed Challenge, we'll be featuring Q&As with our Challenge Sponsors, the organizations and individuals who have partnered with us in building this Challenge, and will play a significant role in supporting top ideas moving forward.

This week, let’s get to know the US Department of Education, one of our Challenge partners.


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The Quick Facts

The Department of Education (commonly known as ED)'s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

The Juicy Details

What are 3 words that describe your organization?


What brought you to the Higher Ed Challenge? Give us one word that describes your feelings about it!

Excited! We got involved in the Challenge to better serve students. We cannot continue to do more of the same, only harder.  We must innovate.  This includes the tremendous work underway by colleges and universities across the nation, along with other innovators seeking change inside and outside the system. We are so thrilled to see the tremendous ideas and innovations that are being unleashed from across the world.

If you could give participants in the Challenge one piece of advice, what would it be?

Think big and bold!

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What are the biggest opportunity areas you see in the higher ed space?

  • Smoothing the transition to college;
  • Improving teaching and learning;
  • Better supporting students
  • Aligning with the needs of the workforce
  • Examining new models for education
  • Responsibly collecting and using data

Why is innovation in higher education important to your organization?

“ Increasingly the postsecondary learning ecosystem consists of not only traditional institutions, but also a wider array of organizations where learning occurs. This includes workforce training opportunities such as apprenticeships, employer training, and on-the-job learning; new and traditional providers of education offering short-term training opportunities, such as bootcamps; and informal learning spaces such as libraries and community centers. Learning can—and does—happen in all of these spaces, and students should be empowered to take advantage of all opportunities to learn and recognize their increased knowledge and skills when they do. .” – National Education Technology Plan Higher Education Supplement

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The Fine Print:

Where is your organization headquartered?

Washington, DC

Who does your organization work with?

Across our work serving students, ED engages with students, educators, and families; entrepreneurs, developers, and designers; policymakers at the state, local, and federal levels; the business, philanthropic, and policy communities; and the public with good ideas of improving education.

Questions? Feel free to get in touch with ED at

Join the US Department of Education, and the rest of the OpenIDEO community in the Future of Higher Ed Challenge!

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