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Winner Announced in Crowdsourced Challenge to Unlock Human Capital through Digital Credentials

In November of 2016, Credly, Lumina Foundation, the American Council on Education (ACE) and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) launched a crowd-sourced challenge aimed at generating breakthrough ideas to help bridge the skills gap for education and industry association leaders. On March 23rd, 2017, a first-place winner (Larry Kearns) was announced along with two runners-up (a team from The Vreeland Institute and a team from M Powered Strategies (MPS)).

The press release announcing the challenge is available here.

The challenge overview is available here.

Winner - Larry Kearns

Runner Up - M Powered Strategies

Runner Up - Vreeland Institute

Winner Announced in Crowdsourced Challenge to Unlock Human Capital through Digital Credentials

ASAE, American Council on Education, Lumina Foundation and Credly award first place prize for recruiting application using “near-miss” matching to pair employers and job seekers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 23, 2017) -  Digital platform pioneer Credly, in partnership with Lumina Foundation, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the American Council on Education (ACE), announced today the winner of a special ideation challenge aimed at generating breakthrough ideas to help bridge the skills gap for education and industry association leaders.

The winning submission by Chicago-based architect Larry Kearns is a concept for a web-based recruiting ecosystem that matches candidates with potential employers based on a data-driven record of their perspectives and skills, verified by digital credentials. The judging panel found that Mr. Kearns’ proposal for a skill matching application brought a unique perspective to connecting employers and employees and offered an innovative approach to learning pathway design and the role played by industry and trade associations.

“As the competencies critical to success in today’s workforce continue to change, employers are increasingly seeking timely, verified evidence of specific knowledge and skills while recruiting,” said Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of Credly. “This crowdsourced challenge offers a reminder that great ideas can come from unexpected places, and we’re pleased to have partnered with Lumina Foundation, ACE and ASAE to surface innovative approaches to meeting the challenge of improving equity, access and efficiency in today’s labor market.”

The application concept puts forth an innovative ‘near miss’ matching feature, which allows individuals to identify the select skills they need to acquire to pursue new career opportunities and pathways. Kearns’ proposal offers pairs employers with candidates based on a target set of skills, instead of job titles and opaque proxies for relevant qualifications.  

“As an architect, each day I design spaces that challenge status quo notions about what learning environments should look like,” said Kearns. “I’m passionate about creating innovative solutions that unlock the human capital in my own city of Chicago. This challenge gave me the opportunity to ideate about closing the skills gap between job seekers and employers. I can’t think of a more important problem to solve.”

Launched in November, the ideation challenge sought innovative ideas in training and credentialing to better bridge the gap between education, associations, who are some of the most active issuers of industry-related certificates and credentials, and employers looking for qualified candidates and greater diversity.  

“Associations play a pivotal role in the definition, teaching and credentialing of industry-specific knowledge, skills and competencies,” said Rhonda Payne, Chief Learning Officer at ASAE. “The crowdsourced challenge showcased a wide variety of perspectives on this central truth and helped highlight the transformative potential that digital credentials have to function as a data-rich currency to facilitate career pathways and workforce opportunities.”

“As the skills demanded by the jobs of today and tomorrow continuously evolve, so must our approach to providing flexible pathways for students to get there,” said Kara Gwaltney, Director of College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT) at ACE. “This challenge and the collaboration with ASAE, Lumina and Credly helped put a spotlight on agile, relevant and personalized learning, which is empowering students to take ownership of their professional and intellectual growth.”

John Duong, the Director of Lumina Impact Ventures added, “The community of solvers demonstrated great energy, creativity and enthusiasm for this challenge. The innovative approaches they proposed shed new light on how digital credential technology can create opportunities to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality credentials, consistent the foundation’s mission.”

In addition to a monetary award, Mr. Kearns presented an overview of his winning solution at ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference in Orlando, Florida, in early March. Two second place winners were also selected for their proposals. They included a team from the Vreeland Institute, including Thomas S. Vreeland, and a team from M Powered Strategies (MPS). The winning proposals are available for review at

About ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership ASAE is a membership organization of more than 30,000 association executives and industry partners representing more than 7,400 organizations. Its members manage leading trade associations, individual membership societies and voluntary organizations across the United States and in nearly 50 countries around the world. With support of the ASAE Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession, and provides resources, education, ideas and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. For more information about ASAE, visit

About the American Council on Education Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing nearly 1,800 college and university presidents and related associations. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

About Lumina Foundation Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. The Foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy. For more information about Lumina Foundation, visit

About Credly Credly is a leading digital credential service provider, helping the world recognize lifelong achievement with the most popular platforms for verifying, sharing and managing digital credentials and badges. The enterprise-class system allows organizations to officially verify skills and competencies; distribute portable and secure digital credentials and open badges; and gain actionable data and insights. Thousands of education institutions, industry associations, employers and workforce development programs use Credly to make achievements visible. For more information about Credly, visit

Posted on Mar 23, 2017