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OpenIDEO Education in Emergencies Challenge 2017

OpenIDEO Education in Emergencies Challenge 2017 (Up to US$ 1.5 million for Winners)

Deadline: June 25, 2017

Applications are open for Idea phase of the OpenIDEO Education in Emergencies Challenge 2017. In the Ideas Phase, OpenIdeo is calling the global community to submit current projects or proposals focused on the Challenge topic: How might we improve educational outcomes for children and youth—particularly girls—in emergency situations?

Displaced students often go long periods of time (as much as 17 years) without schooling. When they do re-enter the formal education sector, their educational needs have often completely changed. Even when students have access to schooling, their psychosocial needs–exacerbated by loss of family, home, and safety—often surpass the capacity of educational systems to address them. Thus, as a crisis continues, students often fail to develop the educational outcomes and skills needed to survive and thrive.

There are many actors working in the education in emergencies space to address these issues; however, these actors often focus on the needs and priorities of immediate response rather than the development of new approaches and strategies. Moreover, agile funding for education in emergencies remains low. OpenIDEO is running this Challenge because they believe it is critical to identify and support innovative approaches to tackling the complexities of education in emergency situations.


  • Top Ideas will receive a share of about US$ 1.5 million from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and support to seed and scale their innovations;
  • They will have access to expertise to help them develop and implement their ideas, through a human-centered design lens, reinventing the way to provide education in emergencies.


  • OpenIDEO invites individuals and organizations of diverse expertise and perspectives to join in this challenge: those who work in the education in emergencies sector, those who have lived through emergency situations themselves, and those innovators and entrepreneurs who are passionate about bringing their expertise and ingenuity to this issue.

Evaluation Process

There are two stages to the Education in Emergencies Challenge evaluation process. Ideas that meet the basic eligibility criteria will make the Shortlist. To select the Top Ideas, organizers will dig a little deeper and consider the quality of the idea, and whether it offers a new and desirable approach.

  • Shortlisted Ideas
  • Proposed innovations are in the ‘mid spectrum’ in terms of stage of development – more than just an idea but less than ready to scale. For example, concepts that are backed by some analysis, evidence and theory of change; a prototype ready to be tested; or a pilot ready to be implemented as a full project are all at the stage of innovation we are seeking.
  • Clearly articulate an answer to the challenge question: How might we improve educational outcomes for children and youth—particularly girls—in emergency situations?
  • Clearly articulates which of the four opportunity areas the solution aims to address, recognizing that some ideas may address more than one.
  • Could be implemented in one or more of the following emergency situations: sudden onset disaster, protracted crisis, conflict or complex emergencies. For example, emergency situations could include, but are not limited to: natural disaster, armed conflict, prolonged displacement, extreme drought.
  • Would not impose any unnecessary risk on intended beneficiaries or community at-large.
  • Is action-oriented.
  • Innovation or approach draws on the core competencies and operational history of yourself, your organization, or your consortia.
  • Clearly articulates the scale at which the solution will be applied.
  • Demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the context in which the solution will be applied.
  • Winning Ideas
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the needs of intended beneficiaries and incorporates their input.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of how this solution can be applied in new contexts beyond the initial application.
  • Draws on available evidence or research (from self or others) to support any theory of change or claims.
  • Takes a new approach to the challenge, or uses an existing approach in a new way.
  • Shows an appropriate level of aspiration toward scaling the innovative solution in one or more of the following ways: increased number of users; applied in different geographic context(s); applied in different emergency situation(s).
  • Demonstrates improvement in response to feedback.
  • Is considered desirable and implementable by experts in the subject area.
  • Would benefit from the level of funding and support offered by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • Articulates how the innovative solution will address the particular challenges faced by girls in education in emergencies.

Application Process

Sign up or log in to your OpenIDEO account to participate!

Application Timeline

  • Ideas Phase: May 31 – June 25, 2017 at 11:59PM PT
  • Shortlist Announced: July 10, 2017
  • Feedback Phase: July 10 – July 23, 2017 at 11:59PM PT
  • Refinement Phase: July 24 – August 6, 2017 at 11:59PM PT
  • Top Ideas: Announced September 2017

For more information, visit OpenIDEO Education in Emergencies Challenge.

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