Lumina Foundation Education Innovation Prize

A call for innovative solutions that help U.S. adults obtain credentials that lead to further education and employment in a rapidly changing economy.

2019 Finalists


Miami Dade College

MDC ACTS (Accelerated Credentials Training and Skills) is a space to conceptualize, develop, implement, and manage accelerated training programs for adult learners supporting Miami-Dade County’s defined targeted industries (high-growth, high-wage). Outreach efforts focus on underserved populations (minorities, military, veterans, returning citizens). MDC seeks to secure co-invested industry partnerships to develop certificate programs designed to meet talent needs. The “earn and learn” model partners with employers in industry to offer 12-week accelerated training programs whereby MDC develops the curriculum and provides training space, Related Technical Instruction (RTI), including professional skills training, while the employer provides access to physical infrastructure, On-the-Job training (OJT), hourly compensation for the participant, a mini internship, a guaranteed job interview, and an offer of employment. Successful graduates of MDC ACTS earn a stackable credential and the opportunity to pursue a career ladder once employed. Scalability of the model is unlimited with potential to expand locally, regionally, nationally, internationally, and virtually. Tesla Corp. is MDC’s first industry partner with the MDC ACTS program.


We’re building a world where every college student has access to free, individualized peer support services – regardless of his or her background or socioeconomic status. Our platform’s unique model aligns incentives and creates a win-win-win for all stakeholders: students, the institution, and partnered employers/corporations allowing us to eliminate costs and maximize the impact and accessibility of support services and 21st-century skills development. Knack enables college students to build, demonstrate, and validate 21st-century skills for success in the classroom and modern-day workplace. We partner with colleges and universities to transform academic and student support services into high-impact educational practices by activating their top-performing students as a supplemental network of peer tutors, mentors, coaches, and advisors. When institutions work with us, they're able to lift student engagement, retention, and career readiness, while scaling support services in a renewable and cost-effective manner.

No Limits No Excuses (NLNE)

No Limits No Excuses (NLNE), a program of the Amarillo Area Foundation, is a group of Texas Panhandle agencies and organizations striving to create a culture of success. We are ensuring the pathways to quality credentials and living-wage employment are accessible to every resident. Our multi-layer solution involves every aspect of life: family, faith, community, business, education. We believe it takes a village to improve retention, persistence, and attainment, and collaboration is vital to the foundation of that village.

Amarillo Area Foundation connects donors with programs aimed at improving the quality of life for Texas Panhandle residents. By joining together to meet the needs facing our region, we will see the Texas Panhandle thrive.



Judges' Choice Award:


Edquity offers a suite of technology platforms that collectively support students around every financial decision related to college success, including college financial matching, planning, financial aid award evaluation, cash-flow management, and streamlining access to emergency aid. Edquity has worked with leading colleges, including LaGuardia Community College and Nevada State College, and K-12 districts, including NYCDOE, DCPS, and IDEA Public Schools.

The Lumina Foundation's Innovation Prize without question has propelled our growth. The award expedited our ability to engage potential customers, particularly in higher education, and has helped us begin critical early conversations with likeminded potential investors.

The Knowledge House

Audience Choice Award:


The mission of TKH is to empower and sustain a talent pipeline of technologists, entrepreneurs, and digital leaders who will uplift their communities out of poverty. TKH sees the fulfillment of its mission as a critical step in achieving its broader vision of alleviating poverty in low-income communities like the Bronx and beyond. TKH partners with colleges, vocational programs, and employers to design and offer pre-college and skills credentialing tech programs to adults to gain meaningful employment, and has served more than 1,500 young people.

The Knowledge House
The award funds from Lumina supported our technology training programs and helped us improve our employment outcomes so that 100% of our adult learners secured transitional work experience in tech. The announcement from Lumina also opened doors for us, as potential funders and supporters became interested in our work. We are so grateful to have been recognized by Lumina.


Career Village

Audience Choice Award and Judges’ Choice Award:


Career Village is a platform that allows students to request career advice from an online crowd of volunteer working professionals. Career Village has 16,000 professionals who volunteer to answer student questions and help them succeed.

After years of recruiting volunteers to provide high-quality answers to student questions, founder Jared Chung identified an aligned opportunity to turn his reliance on volunteers into a strength: leveraging the volunteers’ employers into partnerships for the company. By connecting Fortune 500 companies with accessible digital volunteering, found a sustainable revenue model.