News Releases

OCTOBER 21, 2019

Ninth Annual Follett Challenge Launches With More Chances to Win

World’s Best-Selling Author James Patterson to Serve as Judge for 2020 Contest

MCHENRY, ILL, Oct 21, 2019 – With newly added opportunities for PreK-12 schools and districts to win prizes, the Follett Challenge today launched its ninth annual contest that rewards innovative educational programs teaching 21st century skills to students. For 2020, the Follett Challenge is significantly increasing the number of semifinalists to nine, from which the grand prize winner will be selected.

Follett again will reward a total of $200,000 (USD) in products and/or services to groundbreaking educational programs that illustrate critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration. All public and private K-12 schools/districts in the United States, Canada, and Australia are eligible to apply. The 2019 contest marked the first time a school or district from outside the United States claimed the grand prize when Regina Catholic School Division in Saskatchewan, Canada, earned the honor.

The change in prize structure calls for a 200 percent increase in the number of semifinalists from previous years.

“The joy for our judges has come from singling out the top programs from an always-impressive lineup of entries,” said Britten Follett, executive vice president, Follett School Solutions. “But every year they’ve agonized leaving out others that also were inspiring and making a positive impact on their community and schools and with their students. We’re thrilled that we’ll now be shining the spotlight on additional programs.”

Follett added she also is pleased to announce that world’s best-selling author and global literacy advocate James Patterson will serve as a judge for this year’s contest. Earlier this year, Patterson announced a partnership with Follett and its “All Books for All Kids” initiative, which works to ensure children have access to a wide range of books no matter their background.

A total of 19 prizes will be awarded for the 2020 Follett Challenge contest:

  • Semifinalists: The judges will select three winners each from the elementary, middle and high school categories. Each semifinalist will receive $15,000 in Follett products and services.
  • Grand Prize: From the nine semifinalists, a grand-prize winner is to be selected and will receive an additional $15,000, for a total of $30,000 in products and services.
  • ‘People's Choice’ Winners: The contest again will reward the 10 schools that receive the highest number of online votes from the public for their submitted videos. The winners each will receive $5,000 in products and services. Semifinalists are not eligible for the “People's Choice” awards.

Eighty percent of an entrant’s score will be based on the judges’ evaluation, with the remaining 20 percent based on the number of votes generated for their submitted video, which is required along with an online application. The grand prize winner will be selected solely from the judges’ rubric score.

“Being awarded the grand prize in the 2019 Follett Challenge has showcased our school division’s commitment to student achievement by ensuring our students are being presented with rich learning experiences, preparing them for the challenges of the 21st century while at the same time nurturing integrity, persistence, and good citizenship,” said Sherry Chase, curriculum coordinator, Regina Catholic School Division. “As educators, we are always learning, always seeking possibilities. We will use the Follett winnings to enhance our ‘Tinker Tub Project’ as we continue to develop life-long learners in our students and teachers.”

In line with the Saskatchewan curriculum, Regina’s Tinker Tub Project revolves around eight themes encouraging students to learn how to adapt and create in a digital world and prepare them for the increasingly global workplace.

Since the contest’s inception, the Follett Challenge has recognized schools of all sizes and demographics, including Regina Catholic School Division, which has 12,000 students enrolled in its 32 schools. For a look at all the winners over the first eight years, visit

Submissions for the 2020 Follett Challenge are open to all PreK-12 educators and Parent Teacher Organizations. There are vast resources on the website to help entrants get started; the entry period is open for eight weeks.

Key 2020 Follett Challenge dates are (all times Eastern):

  • Oct. 21, 2019 ........       Contest formally launches; entries open
  • Dec. 12, 2019 ........       Entries close at 5 p.m.
  • Jan. 20, 2020 .........      People’s Choice voting begins at 9 a.m.
  • Jan. 24, 2020 .........      People’s Choice voting closes at 5 p.m.
  • March 23, 2020 .....      Grand Prize, Semifinalists, and People’s Choice winners are announced

For more information about the Follett Challenge, visit

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