About the challenge

The Rural Tech Project invited high schools and local educational agencies to propose technology education programs that use competency-based distance learning.

By advancing technology skills development, rural communities can help their students prepare for rewarding career opportunities. This open innovation challenge will empower educators with resources to create technology education programs that are customized for their students and local needs.

Announcing the five finalists

The U.S. Department of Education announced five finalist teams on December 17. These teams will continue on to Phase 2, where they will plan, run, refine, and report on their programs.

iLEAD Academy

Carrollton, Kentucky

The team is offering students across five high schools the opportunity to take virtual, dual-credit courses leading to the completion of computer science degrees.

Louisa County Public Schools

Mineral, Virginia

The team is providing a cybersecurity program that will prepare students to enter the workforce with industry credentials or attend a postsecondary program.

Premont Independent School District

Premont, Texas; in collaboration with Brooks County and Freer Independent School Districts

The team is offering students the option to join one of five academies leading to dual credits, associate degrees, and industry-based certifications.

Ravenna High School

Ravenna, Michigan

The team is creating an agricultural technology program that will teach students transferable skills for robotics, healthcare, and computer informatics.

Woodlake High School

Woodlake, California

The team is introducing an online aviation program that will prepare students for regional careers or post-secondary degrees.


The challenge will be conducted in two phases. During Phase 1, all eligible organizations were invited to submit a program proposal for competency-based technology education using distance learning. Judges recommended up to five finalists to progress to Phase 2, a two-year community implementation period. At the end of Phase 2, a judging panel will recommend one grand-prize winner.

Phase 1: Open submissions

June 30 - October 8, 2020

Finalists announced

December 17, 2020
We are here

Phase 2: Community implementation

January 2021 - August 2023

Winner announced

Fall 2023


Total prize pool


Five finalists received an equal share of the $500,000 Phase 1 cash prize purse and progress to Phase 2. In Phase 2, finalists will receive personalized support to plan, run, refine, and report on their programs. At the end of Phase 2, one grand-prize winner will receive a $100,000 cash prize.

Sign up for our newsletter.

Sign up for our newsletter.