How to Apply for RISE by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of a student working on a table.

Are you a young innovator looking to make a big impact on the world? The Rise program by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust could be your chance to transform global challenges into opportunities! RISE is a powerful initiative aimed at tapping into the potential of exceptional young minds globally to address some of the world’s most urgent problems. This blog will guide you through everything you need to know about applying for RISE, from understanding its core mission to planning the application process effectively.

What is RISE by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust?

Rise is an initiative created by Schmidt Futures in partnership with the Rhodes Trust. As a central element of a $1 billion philanthropic commitment by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, RISE aims to identify and nurture young talent globally.

The core mission of Rise is to provide these young leaders with unparalleled opportunities that foster collaboration and collective action to address global challenges. Participants, known as RISE Global Winners, receive a comprehensive support package that includes need-based scholarships, mentorship, and access to a vast network of career development opportunities. They also gain potential funding to propel their initiatives aimed at solving critical global issues.

Moreover, all applicants to Rise become part of an expansive global community with access to a wealth of resources and opportunities offered by various partner organizations worldwide. This inclusion helps cultivate a network of leaders committed to service and impact, marking RISE as a cornerstone program in the realm of global talent development and humanitarian advancement.

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Why Does RISE Exist?

Rise by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust was founded on the belief that the world’s most pressing problems will be solved by the next generation of leaders. This visionary program recognizes that many exceptional individuals often go undiscovered or lack the necessary support to realize their full potential, due to isolation, limited access to opportunities, or social and economic barriers.

The traditional systems of talent identification — including universities and employers — frequently depend on established networks that overlook many extraordinary individuals. Rise seeks to rectify this by creating a platform that identifies and nurtures young talent from around the globe, especially those who might otherwise remain on the sidelines.

The program specifically targets young people, a critical period in their development. Research indicates that the experiences and networks encountered during the final years of secondary school are pivotal in shaping life trajectories. It is a time when young minds are most creative, unburdened by conventional limitations, and inclined towards collaboration.

Today’s youth face global challenges, such as climate change, inequalities, and setbacks in education due to events like the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they also have at their disposal unprecedented tools and technologies that can drive solutions. Rise wants to empower these young individuals by providing them with the support and opportunities needed to apply their unique skills and ideas to these global challenges.

The core mission of Rise is to build a network of these capable and motivated individuals, promoting a community that will collaborate over their lifetimes to create impactful solutions. The program’s vision is to change individual lives and harness the collective power of exceptional young leaders to bring about meaningful and sustainable changes worldwide.

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Benefits of Joining Rise by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust

Participants in the Rise by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust can look forward to receiving support and opportunities designed to enable them to make substantial contributions to their communities and the wider world.

Residential Summit: A feature of the Rise program is the fully-funded residential summit, which convenes Rise Global Winners from various cohorts. Held in different global locations, these summits facilitate direct interaction, collaboration, and networking among winners, enhancing their global perspective and connectivity.

Higher Education Scholarships: Rise provides substantial financial support through four-year scholarships for post-secondary education at any accredited university. These scholarships cover tuition and living expenses, filling the financial gaps not already addressed by other forms of financial aid.

Funding for Innovative Ideas: Global Winners have the unique opportunity to apply for funding to support their innovative ideas. This competitive funding can range from seed money for starting social enterprises to grants for non-profit initiatives, with at least $5 million designated annually to support these ventures.

Network Matching: Winners gain access to an exclusive network of fellow Global Winners, community members, and partner organizations. This network is boosted by career development programs, which are delivered through advanced technological platforms, helping winners develop valuable connections and advance their professional goals.

Starter Technology Packages: To support their academic and entrepreneurial activities, winners receive technology packages, which may include laptops or tablets. These packages are tailored annually based on budget considerations and individual needs.

Mentorship & Career Services: Comprehensive mentorship is another cornerstone of the Rise program, offering personal, academic, and professional guidance. Specialized career services are also available to assist winners in securing internships and job placements, making sure they are well-prepared for their professional careers.

What is the Rise Challenge?

Each year, the Rise Challenge engages young individuals aged 15 to 17 from across the globe, offering a unique application process that goes beyond traditional methods. However, instead of solely relying on written applications, Rise emphasizes interactive and dynamic formats including videos, individual projects, and group interviews, allowing applicants to showcase their potential in diverse ways.

Applicants have the opportunity to present themselves through video or text responses, and they are tasked with creating a personal project. This project should highlight their individual talents and demonstrate a tangible benefit to their community. In addition to these submissions, applicants are involved in completing assessments and conducting peer reviews of other participants’ projects, among other activities.

Once the initial stages of the Rise Challenge are completed, Rise selects up to 500 finalists. These finalists are invited to participate in “Finalist Days,” a series of activities designed to assess their motivation, problem-solving skills, and ability to work collaboratively in innovative and challenging scenarios.

From this tough process, up to 100 individuals will be chosen as Rise Global Winners. These winners are recognized for their current achievements as well as their potential to make significant contributions over the course of their lives, embodying the spirit of service and global citizenship that Rise aims to cultivate.

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Innovative Projects by the 2023 RISE Cohort

The 2023 cohort of RISE Global Winners has demonstrated exceptional creativity and commitment to addressing global challenges through a variety of impactful projects. Each project reflects the unique cultural and personal insights of its creator, tackling everything from accessibility and renewable energy to educational disparities and social inclusion.

If you are planning to apply for RISE by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust, here are a few samples from the 2023 global winners you could draw inspiration from!

Alperen from Turkey developed a groundbreaking application that utilizes artificial intelligence to transform the written text into the sign alphabet instantly. This innovation offers significant accessibility improvements for hearing-impaired children, helping them to succeed academically by providing them with tools to read and understand any text.

Benjamin from the United Kingdom focused on bridging the gender and economic gaps in the STEM fields by creating an affordable robotics kit. His initiative aims to make STEM education more accessible and appealing to underrepresented groups.

Brenda in Kenya launched the ‘black-dolls-for-black-girls’ initiative to promote self-love and cultural representation. Her project addresses the pervasive lack of diversity in the toy industry and mainstream media, offering young black girls toys that reflect their own images.

View of students working on a robotic design.

Hantaniaina Herinandrasana from Madagascar engineered a solar-powered machine that creates optimal growing conditions for plants in regions suffering from low annual rainfall and extreme climate conditions. This technology helps protect vital food sources and supports agricultural sustainability.

I Gede Oka Adnyana from Indonesia implemented micro hydros in Balinese rice terraces to generate electricity. His project not only promotes the use of renewable energy but also empowers local communities by helping them transition to sustainable energy sources.

Isabella from Brazil founded “Cores do Brasil,” an organization dedicated to supporting queer individuals. It offers resources, create community bonds, and promotes the inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ population in Brazilian society through the dissemination of information and celebration of diversity.

Joshua from the United States created KidsMates, an online community that supports over 2.7 million children with incarcerated parents. This platform facilitates family bonding and provides valuable resources through videos, blogs, and interviews.

Mia, also from the United States, established LingoX, a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization aimed at making language education more accessible to underserved communities, thereby enhancing educational opportunities and global communication.

Nikhar from South Africa initiated a support group at his school to confront the stigma associated with mental health. His project provides peer-to-peer counseling and aims to create a more supportive and understanding environment for discussing mental health issues.

These projects showcase the diverse talents and aspirations of the RISE Global Winners and highlight their dedication to creating positive change in their communities and beyond.

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Who Can Apply for RISE by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust?

Rise by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust is open to young individuals from any part of the globe, embracing several interests and disciplines. Here’s a look at who can apply for this prestigious program:

  • Applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 17 as of July 1, 2024. This means eligible participants should be born on or between July 2, 2006, and July 1, 2009. This age range is specifically chosen to identify and nurture talent during critical developmental years.
  • There are no geographic or academic restrictions. Whether applicants have a background in science, technology, arts, community organizing, policy, or any other field, Rise seeks to attract a diverse pool of ambitious young people.
  • Rise by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust look for individuals who exhibit what are identified as the ‘RISE Traits’—Brilliance, Perseverance, Integrity, Empathy, and Calling. These traits are critical as they reflect not only the intellectual capacity of the candidates but also their commitment to using their talents for global good.

Selection Process for Rise by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust program

The selection process is holistic and designed to evaluate the full spectrum of an applicant’s potential. It includes:

  • Responses are reviewed by fellow applicants to gauge alignment with the RISE Traits.
  • Submissions that score highly in the peer review are then evaluated by a global panel of experts across various fields.
  • Up to 500 finalists undergo further activities and interviews, culminating in the selection of up to 100 Global Winners.
  • Applicants are encouraged to submit their responses via video, which allows them to better showcase their projects and personality. However, written responses are also accepted, especially for those with limited access to technology or stable internet connections.

The application process for the RISE program by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust is designed to be comprehensive and interactive, allowing candidates to demonstrate their skills, passion, and potential impact.

Content Submission Guidelines

Applicants must adhere to specific submission guidelines to progress in the application process. Submissions that do not comply may be flagged for resubmission. Candidates are encouraged to submit their applications well before the deadline to ensure compliance and make any necessary revisions.

While applicants can choose between video or text responses, video is strongly encouraged. Videos allow applicants to more effectively demonstrate their projects and personality. These can include various formats such as recorded presentations, animations, or documentaries and do not need to be professionally edited. However, the clarity of the message and the demonstration of the applicant’s work are important.

Smart Young Boy Works on a Laptop For His New Project in His Computer Science Class.

Video and Text Specifications

  • Video Responses should be between 30 seconds and 5 minutes in length. Applicants can record these ahead of time, especially if they face challenges with live recording due to device or internet limitations.
  • Text Responses must be between 250 and 1600 characters. Text submissions are an alternative for those who may have difficulty with video submissions due to technological constraints.
  • Applicants are encouraged to create and submit a project that could range from artistic endeavors to technological innovations or community initiatives.
  • Projects should start after June 1, 2023, and be partially completed by January 17, 2024. Collaborative projects are permitted, but applicants must clearly define and present their individual contributions.


  • RISE provides various resources such as Think Sheets and online workshops to assist applicants in developing their projects. Participation in these resources is optional but recommended.
  • Rise Global Community on Discord is an online platform where applicants can interact, participate in activities, and gain inspiration and support from peers and experts.

Reasons Why Your Application May Be Rejected in RISE

Applying to the Rise program by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust involves a detailed submission process where every response is crucial. However, there are several reasons why an application might be rejected, and understanding these can help applicants make sure their submissions meet all required standards.

  • Application Language Requirements: All responses must be submitted in English. While applicants may showcase work in other languages, such as a class taught in Arabic, the responses to the Rise questions themselves must be in English.
  • Length Requirements: Submissions must adhere to specific length guidelines to be considered valid:
  • Videos: Must be at least 30 seconds and no longer than 5 minutes. Videos exceeding this limit will be automatically cut off at the 5-minute mark.
  • Text Responses: Must contain a minimum of 250 characters and not exceed 1600 characters. Submissions outside these limits will not be accepted.

a student typing unto their laptop while her student planner is open right beside the laptop

  • Personal Safety Concerns: Responses containing personally identifiable information that could pose a risk to an applicant’s safety are not allowed. This includes full names, addresses, or school details that could be used to identify the individual.
  • Repetition of Content: Submitting the same content as a response to multiple questions will lead to rejection. Each response must be unique and tailored to the specific prompt.
  • Technical Issues: Submissions with technical problems that impair clarity or intelligibility, such as poor audio quality, video playback issues, or synchronization errors, may be rejected.
  • Relevance to the Challenge: Responses must directly address the challenge. Content that is off-topic or irrelevant will be dismissed.
  • Offensive Content: The use of offensive language, gestures, or content that is deemed rude or inappropriate will lead to rejection. Rise maintains a strict policy against content that could offend community standards.
  • Copyright Issues: Applicants must ensure that they hold the rights to all content they submit. The use of third-party copyrighted material without proper authorization is prohibited.
  • Inappropriate Content: Submissions must not include nudity, sexual activity, or any content that is not suitable for minors.
  • Discriminatory Content: Rise does not tolerate content that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred, or discrimination of any kind. Submissions must align with the values of inclusion and respect for all individuals.
  • External Links: Links to external websites are generally not allowed except in specific parts of the application, such as the Project Summary Form, where they can provide additional context for a project.

Female student presenting in front of people.

Final Thoughts

Rise by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust cultivates the skills of young leaders and connects them with a global network of change-makers. They assist you by providing scholarships, guiding you with the tools to innovate, or linking you with like-minded peers! RISE is dedicated to molding a generation equipped to tackle future challenges. If you’re ready to make a change in your community, consider applying to Rise and take your first step towards that goal!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need my parent’s or guardian’s permission to apply?

Yes, consent from a parent or guardian is mandatory for applicants wishing to participate in the RISE program. This consent is a crucial part of the application process, ensuring that applicants under the age of majority have the necessary approval to engage in the program’s activities.

2. Is the RISE program in person?

While the initial selection process and several other phases of the RISE program are conducted virtually, there are opportunities for in-person meetings for RISE Global Winners. The timing and feasibility of these gatherings are carefully considered, especially in light of ongoing global health concerns, such as the coronavirus pandemic, to ensure the safety of all participants.

3. What is the cost of the program?

There is no cost to apply or participate in the RISE program. The program covers all necessary expenses for RISE Global Winners and their families, making it accessible regardless of the participant’s financial situation.

4. Who are RISE’s founders?

RISE was launched as part of a $1 billion philanthropic initiative by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, co-founders of Schmidt Futures, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust. This initiative, which includes the creation of the Schmidt Science Fellows program, seeks to harness and nurture young talent globally, specifically targeting individuals between the ages of 15 and 17.

5. What makes RISE different from other programs?

RISE distinguishes itself by being a lifelong commitment to its participants, starting from the ages of 15-17. The program offers need-based scholarships, mentorship, and career development opportunities and encourages a global community of like-minded individuals aimed at making a sustained impact. RISE values brilliance in various forms around the world and strives to provide equal opportunities to those with exceptional potential, regardless of their circumstances. This vision is built on the belief that a network of outstanding individuals can collectively change the world, echoing the program’s commitment to nurturing talent from a young age and supporting it throughout life.


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