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Congressional App Challenge

Copy of Congressional App Challenge

What is the Congressional App Challenge?

The Congressional App Challenge (CAC) is a public effort to encourage kids to learn how to code, through annual district-wide competitions hosted by Members of Congress for their district.

Students in districts that are hosting an App Challenge code original applications for the chance to be selected for recognition by their Member of Congress, win prizes, and have their work put on display in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. The district-wide competitions, now in their fifth year, take place from July through early November. The CAC is executed by the Congressional staff of each district which hosts a Challenge and coordinated by the Congressional Internet Caucus and the non-governmental sponsor of the project, the Internet Education Foundation.

The CAC was created because Congress recognizes how essential computer science and STEM skills are for economic growth and innovation, and that the U.S. is currently experiencing a dearth of adequately trained technical talent. By some estimates, there are nearly a quarter of a million unfilled programming jobs in the US. The CAC is a congressional effort to maintain American competitiveness, by proactively inspiring our youth and encouraging them to pursue these crucial skills. “People forget that Microsoft founder Bill Gates started coding as a teenager, long before he started college,” notes Rachel Decoste, Congressional App Challenge Director. “His first app was a tic-tac-toe game.”

The Congressional App Challenge winners get recognition from their Member of Congress, and their app is displayed on Capitol Hill.

The CAC aims to bridge the gender, geographic, and racial gaps in tech by building the domestic pipeline of future tech innovators. In its first three years, the program inspired over 8,800 students across 43 states and territories to code over 2,400 apps for desktop PCs, web, tablets, mobiles or other platforms. Participant demographics for the 605 App Challenges surpassed all tech industry diversity metrics. This year, the Congressional App Challenge strives to build upon this success.


How to participate:

  1. Registration opens June 2023 at
  2. Think of an app you would like to create
  3. Design your app
  4. Create your app
  5. Submit by deadline - November 1, 2023

The “App” in “Congressional App Challenge”  is short for “application.” An application is any computer software program written in any programming language, which can run on a variety of platforms such as:

  • a personal computer (example: Microsoft Word)
  • a web app (example: Dropbox, Fortnite, MailChimp)
  • a mobile phone (example: Candy Crush, Lyft/Uber, WhatsApp)
  • a robot (example: computer program which makes a robot follow a delimited perimeter)
  • a tablet
  • a vehicle with automated features, etc.

Submission Requirement

  1. Submission Period opened on June 24, 2023 and closes on November 1, 2023.
  2. Students must be in middle or high school at the time of app submission.
    • Students may not participate after having graduated from high school.
  3. A student may only compete once per year, in one district.
  4. Students may compete in either:
    • the district in which they reside, or
    • the district in which they attend school.
  5. Students are only eligible to compete in districts which are holding a Challenge.
  6. Students may compete as individuals or in teams of up to four.
    • If competing as a team: at least half of the teammates must be eligible to compete within the district in which they are submitting.
  7. No limits on application theme or topic.
  8. Students can use any programming language (example: C, C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, “block code”, etc).
  9. Students may use any platform (example: PC, web, tablet, robot, mobile, etc.)

More information can be found here, and the rules can be found here.