Hats & Ladders awarded $200,000 Grant from the U.S. Department of Education
- July 18, 2019
- Posted by: Hats & Ladders
- Category: News & Press Releases
New York, NY – Hats & Ladders has received a $200,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Education to further develop its Powerskills Game Lab (PGL), a companion product to its award-winning Hats & Ladders program. The Education Department called on small businesses to propose innovative education technology products that had commercial potential as well as the potential to improve learning outcomes for students.
Powerskills Game Lab will be a game-based platform for high school students to develop and expand on cross-cutting career readiness skills that Hats & Ladders calls “Powerskills.” The first module of the platform will focus on verbal communications skills, as currently there are few robust tools that help to teach this crucial career-readiness competency.
In an increasingly competitive job market, strengthening transferable skills is one of the keys to setting youth up for success. Multiple studies indicate that what employers are seeking the most from their entry-level youth employees is the ability to communicate effectively, a focal point of the Powerskills Game Lab prototype that will be built using the awarded funds.
PGL will cover a broad spectrum of formative assessments including active listening, accountable talk, assertiveness, empathy, cultural awareness and various other activities. These will be explored via skill-specific practice games with anchored instruction, leveling, feedback and coaching. To simulate real world experiences, the program will also include scenario-based performance games that require multiple skills in differing contexts. By providing youth with the opportunity to explore potential professional and academic roadblocks, they will be more prepared to enter challenging situations with confidence and effective communication techniques.
The data collected from the program will be accessible via an Educator Dashboard that includes implementation supports and teaching resources. Additionally, culminating collaborative projects will generate artifacts of learning evaluations using PGL scoring rubrics and serve as a first step into skill transference.
Hats & Ladders is an app-based tool designed to enable career readiness in teens and young adults by connecting them to digital resources and hands-on projects that allow them to explore potential careers and interests. The initial Hats & Ladders concept won the U.S. Department of Education’s Reach Higher Career App Challenge in 2016.
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awardees have brought emerging and innovative forms of learning and instructional technologies to classrooms, such as games, assessments, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), 3D-printing, simulations, virtual worlds, AI adaptive tutors, data dashboards, and assistive technologies. Many ED/IES SBIR-supported products have won national industry awards for technological innovation in education.