The new national competition, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to cultivate post-secondary education opportunities for underrepresented groups, using the latest technologies.

algorithm for change

While many sectors benefit from advances in AI/ML and xR, these leading-edge technologies are nascent in higher education. The NYU Social Entrepreneurship Program is thrilled to launch a $1.5 million innovation challenge – with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – to cultivate the use of these digital applications to increase pathways to success in post-secondary education by low income, first generation, and underrepresented minority students.

The new nationwide competition – “Algorithm for Change: The $1.5M AI/ML & xR Access to Education Competition” – consists of two distinct challenges: one, designed and produced by the NYU Social Entrepreneurship Program, will focus on digital applications using artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML); the other, to be subcontracted to Techstars, will focus on applications that use virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality (xR). Each of these technologies is recognized to have tremendous potential for positively influencing student success among low income, first generation, and underrepresented minority students. The challenge represents a tremendous opportunity to actively seek out and support minority entrepreneurs who traditionally have been disenfranchised from the space.

Algorithm for Change launches this month, culminating in a pitch-off and awards event at New York University in July. The competition is open to entrepreneurs at the ideation, validation, and commercialization stages of development. The prize money for the AI/ML challenge will total $1.1 million. The prize money for the xR is expected to be in the $350,000 - $400,000 range. For details about becoming a contestant, visit To stay up to date, sign up for our newsletter.

Algorithm for Change seeks to further the positive impact of the new technologies through student advising interventions, adaptive courseware in digital learning, and expanded access to higher education. Both competitions will look for innovations that provide solutions to challenges in higher education at the idea, the early, and the proven stages, with particular interest in innovations affecting low income, underrepresented minority, and first generation students, and/or innovations making these technologies more accessible to those students and the institutions that serve them. Beyond the challenges themselves, Algorithm for Change aims to spark conversations about issues of diversity and inclusion within the technology community – beginning these conversations with today’s innovation leaders while building a more diverse community for tomorrow.

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Robert Polner
Robert Polner
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