2022 DARPA AI Tools for Adult Learning
Frequently Asked Questions


Tools and technologies that would be eligible for the competition could include an app or platform, software, algorithm, or other similar technology.

We are interested in tools and technologies that enhance learning, collect and generate data that supports learning science research and continuous product improvement, and can be scaled. This is core to the learning engineering objectives of the competition.

For the purposes of this competition, proposals that focus solely on hardware, curricular resources such as lesson plans or video guides, community platforms, or in-person programming are rarely competitive as they struggle to either support learning engineering principles or scale without significant continuous investment.

Please refer to the Official Rules. All participants must agree to these rules.

The DARPA AI Tools for Adult Learning opportunity is open to United States citizens, permanent residents, or U.S. The team leader or entrant must be a permanent resident or citizen of the United States, or a U.S. entity, in order to be eligible to receive a cash award.

Non-U.S. citizens can participate as part of a team but are not eligible to directly receive any portion of the award.

Please refer to the Official Rules for full eligibility requirements.

Yes! You are not required to participate as part of a team or to be affiliated with an organization or company. Please refer to the Official Rules for full eligibility requirements.

Yes! We are eager to hear and support individuals who are new to the field. We encourage you to participate in the Catalyst award level to be more competitive. Please see more information below on award levels and take the eligibility quiz for more guidance.

Yes! The DARPA AI Tools for Adult Learning program manager is eager to hear from people at all stages of the development process.

Yes! Minors are welcome to participate if authorized by a parent or guardian.

Yes, proposals must be in English.

Yes! We encourage you to submit a proposal and make a note of your conflict.

Yes! Participants retain full intellectual property. DARPA does not seek shares of or equity in the product or company.

Developing successful proposals

Submissions for DARPA's AI Tools for Adult Learning are open through December 18, 2022. You can read more about our submission process and how to participate here.

DARPA's AI Tools for Adult Learning seeks to spur new tools and technology. This means that something about the proposal needs to be fresh, innovative, or original. This does not mean you have to create a new tool or new platform.

Proposals seeking a Growth Phase or Transform Phase award must build off an existing platform of varying levels of development and scale. This might be an application programming interface that will improve the platform or a new tool to improve effectiveness. Or it could mean adding infrastructure that allows external researchers to access your data.

See more about award levels and eligibility requirements here.

The opportunity is open to solutions that address the critical challenges facing adult learners from higher education to professional levels and beyond.

Consider the following:

  • Potential impact and likelihood to improve learning
  • Attention to equity to support learning of historically marginalized populations
  • Demand from adults, employers, and communities
  • Ability to support rapid experimentation and continuous improvement
  • Ability to scale to additional users and/or domains
  • Team passion and readiness to execute

Award Levels & Budget

The opportunity will award three award levels:

  • Catalyst ($50,000): aimed at new participants, including students, teachers, civic technologists, or those who need that initial spark of support to get started.
  • Growth ($100,000): for teams that have a minimum viable product with some users upon which their new idea will build.
  • Transform ($250,000): for teams with an established platform with more than 10,000 users upon which the new idea will build.

Complete the eligibility quiz to determine which award level best fits your proposal.

No, you are not required to participate in the Transform award level. You are welcome to submit for a lower award level if you believe that the idea is in an earlier stage of development.

Proposals will be evaluated based on whether they are clear, concise, actionable, and attainable, with budgets that are aligned and realistic with what’s being proposed. Our reviewers will evaluate how you will maximize your impact.

Indirect costs must not exceed 10 percent of the total budget. Other than that, there are no specific requirements on what costs are allowed or not allowed (within reason, of course).

There is no definitive time period for the award. It is recommended that awarded proposals demonstrate significant progress by Product Review Day in Fall 2023 to receive the second installment of funds. This progress will be measured against the timeline for execution outlined in the proposal.

Research Partnerships

Growth or Transform participants are required to either (1) identify an external researcher that has agreed to partner on the project, or (2) provide evidence from multiple external researchers that the tool could enable research.

External researchers must be external to the immediate organization that is receiving the funds, but they may work for the same institution in another department.

If you need help identifying a researcher, please reach out to DARPATools@the-learning-agency.com. We have a large and growing network of researchers who can assist platforms with:

  1. How best to instrument a platform in ways that would serve the field,
  2. Determining what data a platform is able to collect and how best to collect it,
  3. Using the data and related research to answer questions of interest.

We can facilitate connections to researchers through individual requests or broader networking listservs and events.

You can include costs for external researchers, but ideally, your tool allows multiple researchers to leverage the data. Given that, your budget should cover establishing the infrastructure to allow external researchers to access your data. We anticipate interested researchers will be able to fundraise to conduct research using your data.

Participants seeking a Growth Phase or Transform Phase award must have a commitment from one or more external researchers that they are interested in using the data from their platform by the time they submit their detailed proposal for Phase 2, which is due February 24, 2023.

This does not need to be a formal agreement, and the researcher does not need to have already secured funding. Instead, we want to see that you have started forming partnerships with external researchers to share your data and consider how that will require you to adapt your tool.

Most importantly, the tool must be designed so that multiple researchers can access data from the platform over time. Given this, we assume that if the researcher you are working with falls through for a reason, you will be able to establish another partnership quickly.

What happens next?

Winners will receive their awards by check or bank transfer in two installments.

Winners will receive the first installment soon after winning. Winners will receive the second installment of the award after Product Review Day if they are making sufficient progress on the plan they outlined in their Phase 2 proposal.

Winners will present during a virtual Product Review Day to their peers and others in the field to get feedback and perspective on their progress.

Approximately one year after winners are notified, winners will convene again to present their progress in a Demo Day.

Yes! We strive to support all participants, not just winners. At each phase, the organizers will compile lists of opportunities for additional funding, support, and partnership.

We also encourage your team, if not selected, to stay in touch with the organizers through DARPATools@the-learning-agency.com and the Learning Engineering Google Group.

Organizers are eager to support winners and learn from their work to inform future resources for participants and winners. To do so, all winners will participate in an impact study during which research advisors will work with you to incorporate new measures into your internal evaluation process. In addition, all winners will complete two surveys each year for 3-5 years after winning. That will include completing two surveys annually.



Submit by December 18 for DARPA AI Tools for Adult Learning. Last minute questions? Join virtual office hours.
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