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2020 James A. Kelly Learning Lever Prize goes to math gaming platform Smartyville 

April 17, 2020

The 2020 James A. Kelly Learning Lever Prize was announced on April 10. Judges reviewed pitches remotely this year and awarded the $10,000 Learning Levers Prize to Smartyville (by MintyBrain LLC), a math gaming platform. Smartyville aims to leverage principles of “hyper casual games” to create appealing mini-games. Featuring a dynamic difficulty system to continue to challenge students but not overwhelm them, the game content is aligned with common core curricular content in order to offer students additional practice in the concepts they are learning in class.


Judges also awarded four Development Awards (ranging from $1,000 - $4,000) to encourage continued development of promising projects that fit the 

  • BreakOut leverages socio-cultural theories of learning to provide dynamic online learning opportunities. 
  • YoungReads (by Team CoinFlipper) supports teachers in transforming rural Chinese students’ reading interest into academic success. 
  • Apply-U is a platform developed to help first-generation college applicants navigate the college admissions process. 
  • FeedBee seeks to improve the feedback loop between students and teachers. 

The James A. Kelly Learning Lever Prize is a competition designed to challenge University of Michigan students to invent digital tools with the potential to significantly improve student learning. This prize honors James A. Kelly’s remarkable career reforming school finance, reducing inequities in schools, establishing high standards for teaching, and improving learning for all students.  

A Learning Lever is an interactive digital tool that helps pre-K–12 students learn more effectively while empowering them to assume more control over their learning. A Learning Lever harnesses the power of technology to provide students with direct access to content, inquiry, and support.