LIFT and SMU Team Named 1 of 8 Semi-finalists for $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE

The Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) and Southern Methodist University (SMU) team was named today one of eight semi-finalists advancing in the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The XPRIZE is a global competition that challenges teams to develop mobile applications designed to increase literacy skills in adult learners.

SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development and Guildhall graduate video game development program are working with LIFT to design an engaging, puzzle-solving smartphone game app to help adults develop literacy skills. The SMU and LIFT team, PeopleForWords, is one of 109 teams who entered the competition in 2016.

Drawing upon the education experts at SMU’s Simmons School, game developers at Guildhall and adult literacy experts at LIFT, the team developed “Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis. ” In the game, players become archeologists hunting for relics from the imagined once-great civilization of Atlantis.  By deciphering the forgotten language of Atlantis, players develop and strengthen their own reading skills. The game targets English- and Spanish-speaking adults.

Students at LIFT, a North Texas nonprofit adult literacy provider, have tested and provided key insights for the game during its development. According to LIFT, one in five adults in North Texas cannot read, a key factor in poverty. Dallas has the fourth highest concentration of poverty in the nation, with a 41 percent increase from 2000 to 2014.

Testing of the eight semi-finalists’ literacy software begins in mid-July with 12,000 adults who read English at a third grade level or lower. Selection of up to five finalists will depend on results of post-game testing to evaluate literacy gains among test subjects. Finalists will be named in May of 2018 and the winner will be named in 2019.

WHAT: Demonstration of SMU’s  “Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis” adult literacy video game, one of eight semifinalists in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE.

WHO: Education experts from SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, video game development experts from SMU’s Guildhall graduate video game development program, literacy experts from Literacy Instruction for Texas, LIFT students who helped test the game.

WHERE: Literacy Instruction for Texas, 1610 Malcom X, Suite 320, Dallas, TX 75226

WHEN: 11:00 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, July 18

FOR MORE INFORMATION: adultliteracy.xprize.org, lift-texas.org, www.peopleforwords.org

Official Adult Literacy XPRIZE press release:  http://adultliteracy.xprize.org/press-release/semifinalist-teams-and-field-testing-cities-announced-7m-barbara-bush