Coleridge Initiative

Democratizing our Data:
A Challenge to Invest in Data and Evidence-based Policy

For questions, email: [email protected]


The Coleridge Initiative is pleased to announce a new data innovation challenge, Democratizing Our Data. The vision of the Data Challenge is to transform the secure and safe use of data and evidence to inform policy in a fast-changing world. It is inspired by, and hopes to build on, the many successful investments made by government agencies to inform education-workforce transitions. The results will strengthen the connection between education and workforce by producing new, actionable, information to learners and agencies about the employment outcomes and economic mobility associated with different transitions. Successful projects will be designed to scale across agencies, states, and communities to have the greatest possible impact.

The Coleridge Initiative releases this $5M challenge to develop and scale the most innovative and future-looking product ideas by using data that are already or about to be hosted in the Coleridge Initiative’s secure award-winning Administrative Data Research Facility (ADRF). The Data Challenge is designed to support the further collaboration of state agencies with each other and with their partner organizations that will result in the development of innovative products – such as new linkages of data, data dashboards, data portals, APIs, data models, or code repositories.


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We welcome any novel and innovative projects that go beyond looking at summary statistics to understanding why and how education and training investments succeed or fail. All projects should contribute to a community understanding of the impact of programmatic investments. They should show how the project informs key stakeholders (students, institutions, programs, policymakers) and what key questions the project will answer. Projects that lead to sustainable infrastructures, including aligned measures, will be especially valued.

Proposals must incorporate some aspects of the following areas of high interest:

  • Target populations: low-income learners/workers, at-risk youth, underrepresented minorities, immigrants, and formerly incarcerated individuals. They should recognize that all people are key assets who have untapped talent and are eager to engage in the labor market.
  • Education to workforce outcomes: postsecondary to labor market transitions, secondary transitions, leading indicators of economic mobility and/or wage improvements, and unemployment to reemployment patterns; leading indicators of progress towards outcomes, such as first-year persistence, credential completion, time to completion, and job placement.
  • Feasibility studies: new approaches to credentialing and credentialing transparency, alignment between K-12, postsecondary and workforce data systems. 

Other proposed areas might be in scope; interested applicants should contact [email protected] for further information. 


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A wide range of organizations are eligible to apply, including state agencies (e.g., state departments of labor, education, workforce development, corrections, health, and social services), postsecondary institutions (including research institutions within universities), not-for-profits with data and research capabilities (e.g., think tanks) and mission-aligned for-profit organizations (that are eligible for grant funding). However, because it is critical that the Challenge result in timely and useful products, grounded in data and evidence, we require all proposals to include a partnership with at least one state that already has or that will soon have data in the ADRF. Since the goal of the challenge is to support analysis that inherently uses data from multiple agencies, all teams should feature cross-organization collaboration, such as state agencies collaborating with each other and with their local universities and/or non-profit organizations. Proposals from partnerships across agencies are especially valuable, e.g., proposals from a partnership between a state workforce agency and a state higher education agency.