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Press Release

Schmidt Futures and Rhodes Trust Announce First Cohort of "Rise" Global Winners: These One Hundred 15 - 17 Year Olds Represent “Hidden Brilliance” Working in Service of Others

Hailing from 42 Countries, Winners Receive Access to a Lifetime of Benefits Including Scholarships, Mentorship, Career Development Opportunities, and Funding for Future Ventures for Public Benefit

Rise is the Anchor Program of a $1 Billion Philanthropic Commitment by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to Find and Support Global Talent


NEW YORK, October 25, 2021 — Schmidt Futures, in partnership with The Rhodes Trust, today announced the inaugural cohort of 100 Global Winners for Rise, a global initiative that finds brilliant people who need opportunity and supports them for life as they work to serve others. Rise is the anchor program of a broader $1 billion philanthropic commitment from Eric and Wendy Schmidt. The 100 Global Winners selected from tens of thousands of applicants speak more than 20 languages and hail from 42 countries, including Afghanistan, China, India, Kenya, Mexico, and the United States. 

“Since the beginning, our work at Schmidt Futures has centered around betting early on exceptional people who are working to solve the world’s toughest problems,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures. “It is imperative that we equip a new generation of leaders with the support and resources to address the growing complexities of our world throughout their lives. Today’s Rise Global Winners have offered us a glimpse into what brilliance looks like, and I am confident that our future is in very good hands.” 

“The 100 young people we're introducing today are truly remarkable in what they've brought to their communities even before graduating from high school,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures. “We've seen in our philanthropy and in the world of technology how the power of the network multiplies the power of the individual. We are excited to be able to provide the Rise Global Winners lifelong support and a community of peers who will team up, share ideas, root for each other, and find solutions to global problems that can best be found in collaboration. Together, they will be positioned to help create a healthier, safer, and more humane world.”

Winners were selected after a rigorous application process which included peer and expert review of applicants’ social change projects, formal assessments of brilliance, and group interviews with candidates from over 170 countries submitting their entries through a variety of platforms. The initial 100 Global Winners will lay the foundation for a global community of rising leaders who will receive access to benefits that last a lifetime as they work to serve others. Examples of the 2021 Rise Global Winners include: 

  • Valentina Barrón García (Mexico):
  • Adam Dhalla (Canada):
  • Christian Maboko (Burundi):
  • Lydia Ruth Nottingham (United Kingdom):
  • Aryan Sharma (India:
  • Jennifer Uche (United States):

The full list of winners can be found at www.risefortheworld.org/global-winners.

Benefits for Rise Global Winners take many shapes. The program is personalized and flexible, tailored to Global Winners’ needs as they evolve over time. The program aims to provide Global Winners with individualized support to empower them to achieve their goals while they work to serve others throughout their lives. 

All Rise Global Winners receive access to the following benefits and participate in the following programs upon selection: 

  • Higher Education Scholarships:
  • Residential Summit:
  • Mentorship & Career Services:
  • Programming:
  • Global Winner Network:
  • Technology:

In addition, all Rise Global Winners will have the opportunity to apply for the following benefits over their lifetime:

  • Partner Network:
  • Funding Opportunities:
  • Education Support:

“The answers to the world’s toughest challenges already exist—hidden inside the imagination of the world’s brightest minds. But too often this potential goes undiscovered or unsupported," said Eric Braverman, CEO of Schmidt Futures. "Rise is the first program of this scale to build a network of extraordinary people, from diverse backgrounds worldwide, who have the potential to serve others together for life from a very young age. At Schmidt Futures we bet on exceptional people making the world better—and Rise is our largest commitment yet to build the unending engine of talent that puts brilliance in the service of others, tackling hard problems in science and society.”

“We are so excited to bring these brilliant young people together from across the globe and invest in their journeys to learn, lead, create, and make a difference,” said Dr Elizabeth Kiss, Warden of Rhodes House in Oxford and Chief Executive of the Rhodes Trust. “Our experience with the Rhodes Scholarships over more than a century tells us that when exceptional young people with different ideas, skills, perspectives and backgrounds come together in a shared spirit, they inspire each other to act in world-changing ways. We can’t wait to see what the Rise Global Winners do next.”

“It is an honor to introduce our first cohort of Global Winners, who have not just shown us their capabilities and potential, but also have shared with us their passion to make meaningful change across the world,” said Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, Executive Director of Rise. “Recognizing that while brilliance is broadly distributed, opportunity is not, this year’s cohort represents the bounty of the world’s brilliance and we are honored to get to connect these emerging leaders to the opportunity they need to tackle some of humanity’s most challenging and pressing problems.” 

Rise Selection Process 

The application process for year one launched in November 2020, and called for talented people, ages 15 to 17, from around the world with the potential to use their talent to tackle the world's most pressing challenges. Rise received tens of thousands of applications from over 170 countries. In addition, Rise worked with dozens of global partners—from schools to businesses to local governments—to identify talented young people in communities throughout the world. Examples of these partnerships include United World Colleges, Teach For All, Global Citizen Year, African Leadership Group, Amideast, National Youth Council Singapore, and the Latin American Leadership Academy.

The 8-month selection process was divided into distinct components, including peer reviews, expert reviews, live evaluations, and a review panel, which together formed a holistic view of the applicant. In addition to Rise’s 100 Global Winners, 500 Finalists were also chosen and will participate in educational and leadership courses to develop skills, grow their networks, and gain access to additional funding opportunities allowing them to experiment with innovative ideas.  

Rise Challenge 2022

Additionally, beginning today through December 22, 2021, young people ages 15 to 17 as of July 1, 2022 can apply for the 2022 Rise cohort. Applications are accepted through the “Hello World Network,” a mobile application available in Google Play and the iOS App Store. 

Unlike many traditional applications, Rise uses videos, projects, and group interviews so applicants have multiple opportunities to showcase their potential. For applicants without access to mobile technology, Rise offers alternative pathways through web-browser and paper applications.

The Rise Challenge has three stages. Applicants introduce themselves through videos, create an individual project that demonstrates their talents and benefits their communities, and peer review other applicants’ projects, among other activities. 

After applicants complete the Rise Challenge, Rise selects up to 500 Finalists to advance to “Finalist Days,” where they demonstrate their motivations, problem-solving abilities, and teamwork skills in an innovative interview format.

From the 500 Finalists, Rise selects 100 Global Winners to receive a lifetime of benefits as they work to serve others. 

For more information about how to apply, visit www.risefortheworld.org/apply-to-rise.

About Schmidt Futures

Schmidt Futures bets early on exceptional people making the world better. Founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that creates public value from private philanthropy through risk transfer—showing that brilliant people in networks can solve hard problems in science and society by connecting across fields, competing and challenging ideas, bringing multiple types of capital to bear, and applying science and technology thoughtfully through tools such as AI. 

About The Rhodes Trust

The Rhodes Trust, based at the University of Oxford, builds a better world through global fellowship programmes that develop and connect compassionate, innovative, and public-spirited people committed to solving humanity’s challenges. Our flagship programme, established in 1903, is the Rhodes Scholarship, the world’s pre-eminent graduate scholarship. Nearly 8,000 Rhodes Scholars have gone on to serve at the forefront of government, education, the arts, NGOs, commerce, research and other sectors. They are well known advocates for expanded social justice, and have advanced the frontiers of science and medicine.

For more information about Rise, visit www.risefortheworld.org