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Bridging the Word Gap Challenge

05 Nov 2015 1:40 PM | Mary Kathryn LeMay (Administrator)

The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration would like to inform you about an exciting prize competition: the Bridging the Word Gap Challenge.

Children from low-income families are exposed to 30 million fewer words than their higher-income peers before the age of three. This is known as the “word gap,” a major issue facing our nation today.

This gap in parent/caregiver talk is associated with later disparities in school readiness and academic achievement. Children who lag behind their peers early in life are much more likely to have worse outcomes in education, earnings, and family stability as they grow into adulthood.

By as early as 18 months of age, toddlers from disadvantaged families are already several months behind more advantaged children in language proficiency, and these gaps widen, rather than diminish, over the early elementary years. In fact, children’s academic successes at ages nine and 10 can be linked to the amount of talk they hear from birth through age three.

To spur innovative solutions to address the word gap, MCHB is announcing the Bridging the Word Gap Challenge. We are inviting you to develop a technologically-based intervention that drives parents and caregivers to talk, and engage in more back-and-forth interactions, with their young children (ages 0-4). The innovative solution will promote the early language environment and address the word gap issue.

What’s at stake? Prizes of up to $300,000! In addition to cash prizes, participants will receive mentoring and matching opportunities for Phases 2 and 3 of the competition.

The first phase of the Challenge opens on Friday, November 6th. Registering is easy! Simply visit www.wordgapchallenge.hrsa.gov for further details. Make sure to follow us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/HHS.HRSA and on Twitter at @HRSAgov using the hashtag #BWGChallenge to stay updated on everything Bridging the Word Gap. For more information about the word gap, watch President Obama’s message on the importance of empowering our nation’s youth.

We encourage you to pass this information on to your communities, and to any and all individuals who may be interested in participating in this challenge. To help us spread the word about the challenge, you can:

· Share this email with your friends and colleagues, and direct them to our website at: www.wordgapchallenge.hrsa.gov

· Share information about the challenge on your social media account. Here are sample posts for you to use:

o Facebook: Bridging the Word Gap Challenge is everyone’s opportunity to put more American children on the path to success. Participate in the Health Resources and Services Administration’s initiative to bridge the word gap, get awarded, and make a difference: www.wordgapchallenge.hrsa.gov

o Twitter: Ready to make a difference? Submit your ideas to the #BWGChallenge & win prizes up to $300,000: http://1.usa.gov/1W9UdlF

We are excited to share this opportunity with you, and look forward to seeing the innovation in your ideas!

MCH Research Program


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