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Call for Code looks to university students to help solve for equitable education

I know how fortunate I was to have had great access to education and technology from an early age. My mother was a K-6 teacher and later an administrator for the early childhood learning program, Head Start. My father was an electrical engineer (I followed in his footsteps) and later studied nights to become a college professor, ensuring that my two sisters and I had the opportunity to earn our college degrees without cost. Tagging along with them growing up, education was such a big part of our lives, and I got to spend a great deal of time in learning environments beyond my own schools.

I realize that my opportunities and access to great education are not the norm for so many around the world. To be sure, equal and equitable access to quality education is one of the greatest challenges facing our global society. Growing poverty and the shift to remote learning make children from the poorest households and other vulnerable groups less equipped to participate and more likely to drop out.* To fully realize the potential of every learner, we have to address the growing disparities in educational opportunities for so many communities brought about by issues like socio-economic disadvantage, geography, race, gender, disability, and now COVID-19. Critically, the global pandemic has exacerbated the already complex challenges around achieving equitable educational opportunities, wiping out some 20 years of progress.


These statistics only scratch the surface of what is a profoundly complex global issue. The reality is clear: unequal access to quality education is putting up nearly insurmountable barriers for many. This challenge we face is borderless, and it requires a diverse, worldwide community of innovators to solve.

Now in its fourth year, Call for Code is the largest tech for good initiative of its kind. The world is facing unprecedented, interconnected challenges, and the difficulty in democratizing access to quality education is at the root of many. Broadening this access can equalize communities and improve the overall health and longevity of a society. The right tech can be key in providing real-world solutions for global communities in need, and help ensure education is a force for equality and progress, not greater disparity. I am thrilled to lead Call for Code, and now we are launching a new initiative to impact individuals and communities through a personal passion of mine – equitable education.

We invite university students to answer the call

I am excited to announce the Call for Code Education Innovation Case Competition, set to begin September 30, 2021. We’re inviting university students across all disciplines to design technological solutions that address the competition theme: “A future of education that ensures accessible and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all,” inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4. As current students, the world needs your expertise, empathy, and unique perspective on education.

While solution submissions will not need to include working code, they will need to describe the technologies required to make the solution viable and should include at least one IBM technology, such as cloud, IoT, Edge, or AI. There are $37,000 in cash prizes and special opportunities from the Clinton Global Initiative University and IBM available for the top teams, as well as mentoring and skill-building opportunities for all participants. Submissions will be accepted through November 11, 2021, and winners will be announced December 7, 2021.

Competition timeline

Learn more and register for the Call for Code Education Innovation Case Competition, and help build the future of education.

How will you answer the call?

This competition is aimed at teams of eligible university students. In order to participate, you must be 18+ years of age, enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education, and meet all eligibility criteria. See for the basic rules.