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• Western Governors University, a national, nonprofit university sponsored by 19 governors, which will award academic transfer credit to veterans who have earned digital badges representing corresponding military training. The university’s initial focus will be in its IT and health-care degree programs.

The finalists will now compete in the second phase of the contest to see which organization best implements its badges program by the end of May. VA will announce the final winner of the contest shortly after Memorial Day.

A digital “badge” recognizes skills obtained through learning outside traditional classrooms, such as work-related training and experience. Digital badge credentials are issued by organizations such as schools, universities, employers or trade associations. Badges can be displayed and validated electronically on the Web or presented on a resume.

Like any credential or academic credit, a digital badge can lead to a job or advanced academic standing.

VA was joined by the departments of Education, Energy, and Labor to sponsor the contest. The Badges for Vets contest is part of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition, which aims to build digital badge systems and explore the ways badges can be used to help people learn, demonstrate skills and knowledge, and unlock job, educational and civic opportunities.

The competition is held in collaboration with Mozilla, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and administered by the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory.

“The U.S. military offers some of the highest quality training available,” said Jonah Czerwinski, director of VA’s Innovations Initiative (VAi2), which administered the contest. “Badges for Vets will deliver a return on our national investment in military training and experience.”

VA solicited the most promising ideas from VA employees, the private sector, nonprofit organizations and academia to increase veterans’ access to VA services, improve the quality of those services, enhance the performance of VA operations and deliver services more efficiently.

Information about the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition: Click http://www.dmlcompetition.net/ or http://challenge.gov/VAi2/262-badges-for-vets.

Information about the VA Innovations Initiative: www.va.gov/vai2/.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.