10,000 reasons Congress is inspiring America’s future tech talent

Milestone: The Congressional App Challenge Inspires Its Ten Thousandth Coder

The Congressional App Challenge reached a major milestone last week: 10,000 students have signed up to code an original, functional app since the program began less than three years ago. The Congressional App Challenge (CAC) is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress challenge students in their respective districts to create apps.

“The Congressional App Challenge is the largest series of student coding competitions in the world,” said Tim Lordan, Executive Director of the Internet Education Foundation, which was appointed as the CAC’s official sponsor by the U.S. House Of Representatives. “For students, it’s the most prestigious prize in computer science.”

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So far this year, over 200 Members of Congress have launched an App Challenge to inspire students in their districts.

Leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives created the CAC because they recognized how essential computer science and STEM skills are for economic growth and innovation. With the U.S. currently facing a dearth of adequately trained technical talent, the CAC is designed to change that. By some estimates, there are nearly a quarter of a million unfilled programming jobs in the US.

“The Congressional App Challenge is now more important than ever as our nation faces a major skills gap crisis, especially when it comes to technology,” says Rep. Tom Emmer. “The rapid pace at which the world is improving with technological advances requires a renewed focus in teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) skills. I look forward to students competing against their classmates to win this year’s challenge!”

“I also want to commend the goals of the Congressional App Challenge, which is to ensure continued growth and innovation in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and to encourage students to excel in those occupations,” said former CAC Co-Chair Rep. Tim Ryan. “It is crucial that we make every effort to provide students with an opportunity to develop the skills necessary for tomorrow’s job market.”

“Beyond the cumulative ten thousand coders we’ve inspired, I am most proud of the Congressional App Challenge’s diversity demographics,” says CAC Director Rachel Décoste. The CAC aims to bridge the gender, geographic, and racial gaps in the technology industry by building the domestic pipeline of future tech innovators.

“Students from 43 states have created apps which address an array of themes, including bullying, food waste, health and safety, search and rescue, learning and education, and gaming,” Décoste continues. “The only limit is the student’s imagination and commitment to learning computer programming”. Apps can be submitted in any programming language (such as Python, Java, JavaScript, C++, Ruby, “block code”, etc.) using any platform (PC, web, tablet, robot, Raspberry Pi, mobile, etc.)

The winner(s) of each Congressional district receive:

  • recognition from their Member of Congress,
  • their app is displayed in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC,
  • a number of prizes (To be announced),
  • an invitation to #HouseOfCode in Washington, DC (Spring 2019).

The 2018 Congressional App Challenge is currently accepting registrations from middle and high school students across the nation. The deadline to submit an app is October 15th 2018.



In 2013 leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and at the Internet Education Foundation sought to foster an appreciation for computer science and STEM. That year House leadership brought to the floor and overwhelmingly passed House Resolution 77 – Academic Competition Resolution of 2013, 411 votes to 3. Representative Candice Miller, the Chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration and principal sponsor of the bill, spoke on the House floor about the need to inspire students to pursue careers in computer science.

Through House Resolution 77, the U.S. House of Representatives outlined the plans by which Representatives would host district-by-district computer science, or “app,” competitions every year for students. In October of 2015 the Committee on House Administration unanimously passed the rules and regulations allowing each Representative to host an “Officially-Sanctioned” computer science competition in their districts. The rules for “Officially-Sanctioned Competitions” are now ensconced in the Members’ Congressional Handbook.