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First rural youth app challenge

One extra outcome of the Libraries Ready to Code initiative has been a number of new partnerships such as with the National Center for Women & Information Technology and their AspireIt program and the Congressional App Challenge. We have also connected to old partners in a new way, as with NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association. NTCA launched its Rural Youth App Challenge which you can read more about in the following guest post by Jessica Golden, executive director of the Foundation for Rural Service. The Ready to Code team is excited about this path towards ensuring youth have the same opportunity to explore their interests through creative uses of technology and know libraries make great community partners.

At the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) our mission is, in cooperation with NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA), to sustain and enhance the quality of life in America by advancing an understanding of rural issues. The FRS mission is to improve the quality of life in America—and not just rural America—because we believe the viability and sustainability of our rural communities should be of national importance. Key to this mission is connectivity.

Connectivity, or access to advanced communications services, is a part of almost everything we do today as a modern society—from enabling telehealth and distance education to smart agriculture and telework. And yet, while innovation is rampant in rural America, if the next Mark Zuckerberg were in a rural community, would she or he have a chance at succeeding the way the 33-year-old CEO and founder of Facebook has? With access to quality, affordable communications services, we would like to think so. That is why we decided to create the very first FRS Rural Youth App Challenge this year.

The Challenge asks students in grades 7 through 12 to come up with an idea for an app that either solves a problem or improves a process in their rural community or in rural America at-large. The challenge will be concept-based only and the judgment will be based on how well-researched and well-presented the app is. The concept must be possible, well-researched and not already be an app in existence (but may be similar). We think this is a great opportunity for rural community businesses like NTCA member companies and anchor institutions such as local libraries to interact with the youth in their communities and facilitate home-grown innovation.

Here are some helpful resources:

Applications are due by April 20, 2018. If you have any questions, please contact We can’t wait to see the innovation from our rural youth!

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Marijke Visser

Marijke Visser is the associate director and senior policy advocate at the American Library Association’s Washington Office. She is involved in all stages of Libraries Ready to Code, E-rate, and Connect Home projects. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Peace and Global Studies/Sociology and Anthropology from Earlham College in Indiana. Before joining the ALA in 2009, Marijke earned her master’s in Library and Information Science from Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.

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