BY DAYO ADESULU
Schmidt Futures, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, announced on September 23 the second cohort of 100 Rise Global Winners. Rise finds brilliant people who need an opportunity and supports them for life as they work to serve others.
It is the flagship program of Schmidt Futures and the anchor of a broader $1 billion philanthropic commitment from Eric and Wendy Schmidt to talent development across their initiatives.
Our 2022 Rise Global Winners include youth aiming to promote literacy among underprivileged children; predict the effect of Alzheimer’s drugs using bioinformatics; create a sustainable gummy vitamin that combats anaemia; educate communities on mental health stigmas; and many more.
With over 22 new countries represented this year, the global program continues to further expand its network with a broader range of talented young leaders from diverse backgrounds, including applicants from over 170 countries. Schmidt Futures’ mission is to bet early on exceptional people making the world better.
Rise is both the earliest and the longest bet on talent in Schmidt Futures’ portfolio. This year, Rise is proud to have five Global Winners hailing from Nigeria and is honoured to collaborate with organizations such as NBA Africa, the African Leadership Academy, HALI Network, and BUILD Nigeria.
Their efforts to promote Rise, support youth in applying, and provide exciting programming opportunities, contributed to the second year of success across the country.
“We are looking for extraordinarily bright people everywhere because genius can have an outsized impact on improving the world when applied to its hardest problems,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures. “Building a network of brilliant young people who want to make the world better is a key goal of Rise. Development in today’s world depends on people working together.”
“Today’s announcement of the Rise Winners is not the conclusion of a process, but rather the starting point for the young people in the program. They will have continuing opportunities to change the world for the better as they continue their education and find ways to collaborate,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and president of The Schmidt Family Foundation.
“We are counting on them to become future leaders, using their collective gifts to help solve the world’s most challenging problems.” Rise remains intentionally broad both in the selection of talent and in their projects to help unveil hidden brilliance, in whatever form it takes, wherever it is in the world.
The program further prides itself in recognizing brilliance with unique perspectives and across various focus areas, skills, and issues. Since its inception, Rise has welcomed over 150,000 people from over 170 countries to its community, and has selected 200 winners from 69 countries of origin.
From over 120,000 registrants, the 2022 Winners were selected after a rigorous application process which included peer and expert review of service projects, formal assessments of talent, and group interviews. The 2022 Global Winners stood out not only for their impactful projects spanning from medical innovation to mental health and education but also for their strength in overcoming adversity.
As a result of global program growth in year 2, Schmidt Futures and The Rhodes Trust are proud to welcome the program’s first Winners from Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Libya, Myanmar (Burma), Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Vietnam.
In 2021, Nigeria had six impressive Winners, and this year, Rise is proud to announce five additional Global Winners including: Asher Segun-Olasanmi from Ile Ife, Nigeria: Asher is a mental health advocate and ardently promotes female participation in STEM. For her project, Asher researched the stigmatization of young mental health patients in Southwestern Nigeria.
Emmanuela Ilok from Lagos, Nigeria: Emmanuela developed a program called ‘CodEd’ which offered teacher training programs, a student-centred curriculum as well as internship opportunities for students to receive quality computer science education in public and private schools. Ikenna Charles Nwafor from Abeokuta, Nigeria: Ikenna’s Rise project aimed to create awareness about the importance of cybersecurity in the lives of teenagers in Nigeria as cases of cyber-attacks continue to grow in the country with the onset of the COVID pandemic.
He developed and set up a website (Cybersecurity & You), performed a skit with friends on the dangers of Cyber Ignorance, and set up awareness posters within his community to raise awareness among Nigerian teens. Mokwe Uche David from Aba, Nigeria: Uche created a nonprofit called PCS, which fosters effective waste management by leveraging the combined effort of youth volunteers.
His project initiated the first Zero Waste Day in his community, which was a program that challenged and encouraged everyone in his community to go an entire day without littering the environment.
Naomi Ifunanya Marizu Obinwa from Lekki, Nigeria: Ifunanya is dedicated to reducing inequalities and discrimination through education and created a website featuring blogs and videos from medical professionals explaining why healthcare should be important to her fellow Nigerians.
The complete list of Winners can be found said Eric Braverman, CEO of Schmidt Futures. “Rise is an integral part of our mission to create the best, largest, and most enduring pipeline of exceptional talent globally and match it to opportunities to serve others for life.”
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“It has been a pleasure to work with Rise to further our shared goal of providing more opportunities for high-performing youth from across the continent to make an impact in their communities and communities around the world,” said Gbemisola Abudu, NBA Africa Vice President and Country Head for Nigeria.
“We congratulate the Nigerian Rise Global Winners and the Winners from across Africa, and we look forward to continuing to support them as they develop their talents, activate their passions, and make positive and long-lasting contributions to society.”
“Selecting 100 Global Winners from such a deep pool of brilliant young people was quite a challenge, and we are very grateful to all of our partners who helped in the selection process,” said Dr Elizabeth Kiss, Warden of Rhodes House in Oxford and Chief Executive of the Rhodes Trust.
“Our newest Rise winners come from every corner of the globe, and we can’t wait to bring them together – and then invest in their lifelong journeys to serve their communities and build a better world.
The latest Rise Global Winners receive additional personalized support, including need-based scholarships, mentorship, career development opportunities, potential funding for future ventures, technology packages, and more, to empower them to achieve their goals as they work to serve others.