Hats & Ladders, Inc. Is Awarded $750,000 Grant from The National Science Foundation
- April 13, 2019
- Posted by: Hats & Ladders
- Category: News & Press Releases
New York City – On Friday, April 5, 2019, The National Science Foundation awarded Hats & Ladders, Inc., the prestigious SBIR Phase II grant, funding that our R&D team will use to expand our program and positively impact more youth.
Used by thousands of youth ages 14-25, our eponymous app motivates teens and young adults ages 14-25 to undertake career exploration in a fresh, new way.
This SBIR Phase II project serves a national need for stronger career readiness by building the confidence and preparation of youth at an age when researchers believe it matters the most. A key objective is to close equity and opportunity gaps by equipping youth and their advocates with a data-driven, motivational career development solution – one that taps into existing initiatives and connects users to meaningful career-building experiences online and in their communities. The web-based career platform will foster career self-efficacy and increases youth knowledge of occupations and career pathways.
The extended platform will consist of (1) an engaging app for youth ages 14 to 25 based on popular game mechanics; (2) a web-based advocate (educator) dashboard that reports on individual and aggregate user career exploration and skill-building activity, and supports public and private organizations’ need for visibility into youth interests and skills to better understand their youth and to inform the allocation of resources; and (3) an implementation toolkit, featuring 30+ lesson plans as well as professional development videos for integrating the platform in a wide range of formal and informal academic and advisory settings.
This project’s broader impact is to help youth foster career readiness and, thus, increase their likelihood of staying in school, finding good employment, and gaining greater social mobility. This increased career readiness ensures a pool of qualified applicants for employers in industries across the U.S.
This project combines empirically-tested career development methodologies, proven game-based learning principles, and open big data about careers to provide personalized, accurate career guidance. The app engages youth in building personal profiles using visualized psychological assessments (based on validated inventories). A proprietary system then recommends Hats (careers) to explore and Ladders (activities) to complete that provide real-world learning supported by a range of motivators (level design, self-reflections, achievement badges, social sharing, and mentor communication). Data generated during Ladder activity and self-reflections strengthens the user’s profile and, thus, the accuracy of the recommendation engine.
Hats & Ladders employs design-based methods as our overarching research approach. A final evaluation of the completed program will be conducted in both high school and after-school settings. Career readiness, persistence, and perceptions of ability and of the Hats & Ladders program will be assessed using quantitative methodologies. The anticipated result is a highly effective career development program that engages 21st-century learners with foundational career-building experiences. Students will be able to identify career aspirations, based on interests and occupational data, and gain greater confidence in their ability to navigate and adapt to changing career pathways.
Hats & Ladders was the winner of U.S. Department of Education’s Reach Higher Career App Challenge—a 2016 White House initiative.
Hats & Ladders Vice President of Strategy, Juliette Adams, serves as Primary Investigator on this grant. Any queries can be directed to her juliette_at_hatsandladders.com