Innovation in College & Career Preparation

Wanted: Education Ideas to Support a Rapidly Changing Economy

Allison Griffin, USA FundsBy Alison Griffin, Senior Vice President, External and Government Relations, USA Funds

As they begin their careers, recent graduates are likely to have four job changes in less than 10 years — and approximately 50 percent of employment opportunities that exist today will disappear by 2030.

With these significant shifts in our workforce, designing an adaptive postsecondary system that supports lifelong learning has become critical to our nation’s future economic prosperity.

The people and unmet needs behind these changes inspire an opportunity for design. As innovation across the postsecondary system gathers steam, through colleges and universities, as well as emerging providers of education, it is a pivotal moment for progress.

How might we prepare students — of all ages — for active civic engagement, real-world employment, and career success in an ever-transforming economic ecosystem?

USA Funds® is sponsoring a new initiative tackling that very question.

The Future of Higher Education Challenge, from OpenIDEO, is exploring ideas that cut across cultures, income levels and sectors. The effort envisions a system that supports innovative models and empowers a broad set of learners.

Future of Higher Education Challenge participants will work together to design new ways in which to better support learners to evolve with the needs of tomorrow.

And OpenIDEO needs your ideas to make that happen.

Future of Higher Education Challenge
OpenIDEO is seeking higher education ideas to help students adapt to a changing economy.

An open innovation platform, OpenIDEO partners with leading organizations to drive collaboration, innovation and impact around the world’s toughest problems. It addresses each issue with a Challenge, a three-to-five month collaborative process modeled on IDEO’s design thinking methodology. The approach focuses attention on the topic and creates a space for community members to contribute and build off each other.

The Challenge process
To address the issue of higher education in a changing economy, OpenIDEO is calling the global community to action, looking for ideas that:

  • Get creative in thinking about the various modes for offering postsecondary learning.
  • Rethink the way education can remain relevant throughout a learner’s lifetime.
  • Consider accessibility across a broad and diverse spectrum of learners.
  • Use data to reimagine and inform the student reality.

In the Research phase of the Future of Higher Education Challenge, currently underway, OpenIDEO is looking for your stories and reflections, emotions, perspectives and other personal contributions related to education after high school and throughout one’s lifetime. Once the Research phase is complete, the Challenge will progress through phases that will narrow the field to “Top Ideas.”


The Future of Higher Education Challenge will rely on design research methods like interviewing, storytelling and empathy exercises that allow OpenIDEO to delve into the experiences of others. Building on this research, the initiative will bring to life the question, “How might we prepare students for active civic engagement, real-world employment, and career success in a rapidly changing economy?”

USA Funds is sponsoring the Challenge in support of our focus on Completion With a Purpose® — building a more purposeful path for students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and fulfilling lives. Joining us as partners and sponsors in the OpenIDEO Future of Higher Education Challenge are:

We hope that the Challenge will create impact and yield tangible solutions that the sponsors and partners can support or integrate into our work long after the Challenge ends. Facilitating this effort is support that includes:

  • Entrepreneurship boot camp for those submitting one or more of the Top Ideas, and scholarships to other teaching boot camps, from Level Education from Northeastern University.
  • An invitation to join Georgia Tech’s summit of industry leaders in innovation in higher education.

Top Idea selections will have the opportunity to discuss and refine their innovations with sector experts — and to be a voice in an industry-leading conversation.

What’s next
The initial Research phase in the Future of Higher Education Challenge is underway. I hope you’ll get involved, share insights, and help start the conversation. Start here.

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