Ray Blavatt – OB Artist – Part of Winning Team for International Adult Literacy Award

by on February 20, 2019 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Many of us know Ray Blavatt as the quiet, tall man with long blond hair behind the projector or setting up the sound system for presentations by the OB Historical Society. Or we may know him as the cartoonist whose drawings have adorned the walls of local coffee houses.

But now, the nation knows him – as do even people across the seas – for Ray is a professional animator and artist who has been for decades part of a San Diego team working on developing “handcrafted” video games that teach adult literacy by using music to teach reading and math. For now Ray’s team has just won an international award for adult literacy.

Ray is the artist for Learning Upgrade which last week was named the co-winner of the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPrize. The Learning Upgrade and the co-winner, People ForWords out of Dallas, won out over more than 100 teams from 15 countries.

The story was on the front page of Saturday’s San Diego Union-Tribune:

For more than two decades, San Diego’s Learning Upgrade has developed “handcrafted” video games that use music to teach reading and math.

A core group of about 10 workers stayed together through the ups and downs at the small family business, helping it navigate technology evolutions from computer compact discs to web-based online lessons to smartphone apps. …

The Learning Upgrade team: Top row from left: Denis Lobo, Shyla Merle Lobo, Sheryin Lobo, John Banks. Bottom Row: Vinod Lobo, Drew Robinson, Ray Blavatt (Learning Upgrade)

Learning Upgrade shared the XPrize with People ForWords – a team based out of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Each will receive $2.5 million, in addition to the $100,000 they took home last summer for being named finalists.

Launched in 2015, the Adult Literacy XPrize — presented in partnership with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation — challenged teams to develop mobile apps that could teach literacy to adults who were reading at or below the third-grade level. According to the XPrize Foundation, 36 million adults in the U.S. have low literacy skills.

Here is Mike Freeman’s article at the SDU-T.

Back in August of 2017, we also wrote about Ray being a semi-finalist.



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Vern February 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Congrats Ray!


Denine February 20, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Wow, that is so awesome. Congratulations Ray!


retired botanist February 20, 2019 at 4:26 pm

Yes, ditto that. So heartening to read about someone doing something wonderful, constructive and worthwhile in this world of, frankly, a lot of dumb apps! Congratulations, Ray, and may you continue to create good things! :)


cliffhanger February 21, 2019 at 11:14 am

Congrats, neighbor!!!


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