Rural Youth App Challenge from FRS Unleashed!

Rural Youth App Challenge from FRS Unleashed!

 Years ago, when I worked for Verizon, I always found it intriguing how much the senior executives in the corporation looked forward to heading out to California to “hang out” with app developers and picking some great creative minds.  I can recall one time when I had the opportunity to participate in a briefing for Lowell McAdam (now Verizon’s CEO), was struck by his enthusiasm for the app developers contest and immediately downloaded all of the apps he noted as his favorites so I could try them out myself.  (He particularly noted Night Sky, where you could point your phone camera up at the sky above you to do some educated star gazing!)  It seemed that there might be some applications for rural communities that  – while not built simply for entertainment – could be practical and useful as they look to enhance life in rural America.  That is why I am so excited that the FRS board of directors is moving forward with a special Rural Youth App Challenge.

Challenge Overview

Students will develop a concept for a mobile app that will address a problem or improve a process in their rural community or in rural America at-large. The challenge will be concept-based only and the judgement will be based on how well-researched and well-presented the app is. The concept must be possible, well-researched and not already be an app in existence (but may be similar).

Who is eligible?

  • Students enrolled in grades 7 through 12
  • At least one student teammate must live in an area served by an NTCA­—The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA) member company. (Please contact your local telecommunications provider to determine if it is an NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association member.)

Must be made up of 1 to 5 students, all within eligible grade range, and with at least one member served by an NTCA member company.

First 10 Applicants with Complete, Qualifying Application:
Will receive a year-long subscription to Codecademy-PRO (worth $84, approx.) and be eligible to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

The winning team will receive $1,000 in gift cards and Codecademy Scholarships.

Ownership: FRS has the nonexclusive right to publish photos and videos provided by students on their progress and use them for publicity.

Question: How do I participate in the FRS Rural Youth App Challenge?

For Students:

Step 1: Check and see if you are served by an NTCA member company.

  • An NTCA member is a rural broadband provider. If you are served by an NTCA member, this is likely your local rural telephone or internet provider. This would not be big companies like Verizon, AT&T, Windstream, etc. Call your local Internet provider or contact FRS to find out for sure. The application will require that you include the name and contact information of an employee of the NTCA Member company.

Step 2: Make sure you are in eligible grade range.

  • Grades 7 through 12.

Step 3: Form your team.

  • All participants must be within eligible grade range
  • At least one team member must be served by an NTCA member.
  • You may have up to 5 team participants.
  • Designate a team contact person (Parent or Teacher)
  • (Optional: come up with a team name.)

Step 4: Come up with your idea for an app.

  • Make sure it fits the “Challenge Overview” (featured above).

Step 5: Fill out the Rural Youth App Challenge application (all of it).

This will include:

  • Your Team Information
  • Answer the Concept questions
    • A description of your community
    • The challenge or process your app will address
    • The audience for your app
    • The app itself and how it will appear in online app stores.
  • NTCA member company contact information
  • Provide Visuals on how the app would look
  • Optional: Submit a video

Step 6: Submit your application by no later than April 20, 2018.

Note for schools and teachers:
This can be a school-administered program. Please refer to the items above to ensure qualification of school teams in the app challenge. Teachers may be the contact person for more than one team.

If you have any questions, contact FRS at or 703-351-2026.


Today, FRS will be hosting a webcast to talk through more of the details but I cannot think of a better way to unleash the great tech minds that live and value their communities in rural America.  A huge thanks to the sponsors of this program, NISC and Mapcom Systems, for supporting FRS’s efforts and initiative.


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