The Cleveland area has taken a commanding lead in a national competition designed to boost adult literacy, but the region's chances to win are dimming unless hundreds of Android phone users take time during the next two weeks to download an app.

The Adult Literacy Community Xprize Competition places a free reading tool – the Amrita Learning app -- on the phones of adult learners. Anyone who has an Android phone can download it.

 “One download gets us closer to our goal, and it only takes ten seconds,” said Emma Keating of The Literacy Cooperative.

A collaborative effort launched by Cuyahoga and Summit counties, called LitFitNEO, is competing with teams across the United States to be the community with the most adults downloading the apps. Cleveland’s community code is 4422.

The XPrize competition, which runs through Aug. 31, encourages communities to promote usage of the Amrita app as a way to lift local literacy rates. A winning purse of $100,000 will go to the community that can get the most adults to download and use the app.

Northeast Ohio is far and away in the lead, with 400 downloads so far, according to an online leaderboard. But 1,500 downloads are needed to win.

The Literacy Cooperative is coordinating the local LitFitNEO campaign in conjunction with community partners including United Way, Cleveland Foundation and WKYC. If Northeast Ohio wins, the prize money will be invested back into the community, for instance in the form of micro-grants that could pay for GED testing fees or a bus pass to someone starting a new job. The goal, Keating said, is to help lift individual adults out of poverty by equipping them with the literacy skills needed for academic and career success.

Per The Literacy Cooperative, there are more than 500,000 residents in Cuyahoga and Summit counties that read below an eighth grade level. Our two largest cities, Cleveland and Akron, have poverty levels of 35.2% and 24.1% respectively. Keating said that for these adults, the competition is a good thing, since it encourages them to use the adult literacy apps to advance their literacy.

Any adult may download the apps. You can find four to choose from on The Literacy Cooperative's website, and these apps will remain free for a year.