News Releases

OCTOBER 25, 2016

Follett Urges Schools to Share Their Stories of Unique Learning for sixth Annual Follett Challenge


$200,000 Contest to Recognize Leading Examples of K-12 Programs Teaching 21st-Century Skills to Students

MCHENRY, IL – Does your school have a cool, unique program it would like share with the world? If so, the $200,000 Follett Challenge – an advocacy program that rewards groundbreaking educational programs – launched its sixth annual contest this week.

All K-12 schools/districts, public and private, in the U.S. and Canada are eligible to apply. Submissions are open to all K-12 educators and Parent Teacher Organizations. Entrants must complete an online application and upload a three- to five-minute video describing their program that teaches 21st-century skills to students. Judges are looking for applications best illustrating critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration between students and among teachers and other members of the school staff.

 In the 2015-16 contest, a school located on the Eielson Air Force Base in the very far north city of Fairbanks, Alaska, was confident it had a unique program to share. Educators there, however, worried they might not be able to compete with some of the bigger, more technologically advanced schools in larger cities. The Follett Challenge judges thought otherwise after the school entered its innovative STEM and CTE program for students in grades 7-12.

“Sometimes it seems like little schools in Alaska don't stand a chance,” said Mariko Kinikin, Digital Learning Coach at Ben Eielson Junior/Senior High School Library, part of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. “Being named as a Follett Challenge semifinalist, and finally the grand prize winner, was a huge validation of the good work we are doing here in Interior Alaska.”

“Few events have rallied the school and community as completely as the process of assembling, completing – and winning! – the Follett Challenge,” Kinikin continued. “As budgets become more streamlined, and access to timely quality materials rises in importance, the Follett Challenge couldn't have come at a better time. We thank them for allowing us to share our story.”

With $200,000 available in products and services from Follett, this year's three semifinalists each will earn a $30,000 prize. The grand-prize winner, to be selected from the three semifinalists, will earn an additional $30,000, for a total of $60,000, plus a celebration at their school. Ten $8,000 prizes will be awarded to “People’s Choice” winners – those schools that receive the highest number of online votes from the public for their submitted videos. 

Eighty percent of each entrant’s score will be based on the judges’ evaluation of the entry, with the remaining 20 percent based on the number of votes generated for the school’s/district’s video.

In past years, the Follett Challenge has seen winning programs from varying school sizes in reading, math, service learning, project-based learning, and more.

“The Follett Challenge advocates for and promotes innovative educators who are looking beyond traditional means of teaching and learning,” said Nader Qaimari, President, Follett School Solutions. “As our past winners have discovered, it is well worth the time and effort to enter. Year after year, we see how diverse winning programs can be, and school size doesn’t matter. We’ve had rural, small schools, larger schools, as well as public and private schools. Each year is a pleasant surprise, and it is exciting to see the innovation at work in schools everywhere.”

Qaimari added there are vast resources on the Follett Challenge website to help entrants get started when they’re ready to move forward with their submission. Moreover, he said Follett has scheduled an event for 7 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Nov. 15 on the Follett Challenge Facebook page that will provide tips on what the judges are seeking and how to make one’s entry shine.

Other key 2016-17 contest dates are:

  • Oct. 24, 2016: Contest formally launches on website, and entries open
  • Dec. 23, 2016: Entries close
  • Jan. 23, 2017: Voting begins
  • Jan. 27, 2017: Voting closes
  • Feb. 28, 2017: Semifinalists and 10 video winners announced
  • April 28, 2017: Grand-prize winner announced

For more information about the Follett Challenge, visit www.FollettChallenge.com

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