Schmidt Futures and Rhodes Trust Recognize 100 Promising Young People as 2023 Cohort of Rise Global Winners and Open New Cycle of Applications

October 4, 2023

Winners Representing 43 Countries Join the Rise Global Initiative

New Cycle of Applications Now Open for Talented 15-17-year olds to Join the Rise Global Community

New York, NY, October 4, 2023 – Today, Schmidt Futures, in collaboration with the Rhodes Trust, announced the 2023 cohort of Rise Global Winners and launched a new application cycle for the 2023-2024 Rise Challenge. Rise is a program that finds promising young people, aged 15-17, and provides them with opportunities that allow them to work together to serve others over their lifetimes. Founded in 2019, Rise is the flagship program of a $1 billion commitment by Eric and Wendy Schmidt across their philanthropic organizations and initiatives to find and support global talent. Rise collaborates with over 60 partners from around the globe to identify and nurture talent from communities worldwide.

The 2023 Rise Global Winners include the program’s first-ever Winners from Bangladesh, Cuba, Jordan, and Uganda, totaling 43 nationalities represented by the 2023 cohort. This year’s winners are exceptionally talented and motivated young people who are changing the world through ideas and solutions, such as: an electrochemical pipe scale accelerator to decrease lead and copper corrosion in water; a biodegradable plastic using corn or cassava starch; a functioning reusable glucose monitor applicator that reduces the environmental impact of people with diabetes; a wearable device for dementia patients; and much more.

“We are excited to welcome a new cohort of 100 passionate young people to the Rise Global Winner community,” said Wendy Schmidt, who with her husband Eric is funding the Rise program. “Their ideas—from helping rice farmers transition to renewable energy to creating a biodegradable plastic from cassava starch—are the sparks that we hope will ignite a lifelong commitment to each other and to a better future for us all.”

Examples of the 2023 Cohort: 

  • Alperen Konukbay (Turkey) programmed an app that uses AI to convert written text into sign alphabet immediately, providing accessibility opportunities for hearing-impaired children to read and comprehend any text and empowering them to succeed academically. 
  • Benjamin Warburton (United Kingdom) created a low-cost robotics kit intending to reduce the gender and wealth disparity within the STEM field.
  • Brenda Faith Ochieng (Kenya) started the ‘black-dolls-for-black-girls-initiative’ to promote self-love and address the lack of representation and diversity in mainstream media and the toy industry. 
  • Hantaniaina Herinandrasana Yannick Nambinintsoa (Madagascar) digitally developed a solar-powered machine to provide suitable conditions for consumable plants to grow in areas with low average yearly rainfalls and protect the plants from extreme climate conditions.
  • I Gede Oka Adnyana Nathanjaya (Indonesia) implemented small-scale micro hydros to generate electricity in Balinese rice terraces to promote renewable energy use and empower local communities to transition to and adopt renewable energy sources.
  • Isabella Nascimento Silva Pinto (Brazil) founded “Cores do Brasil”, an organization that supports queer individuals through sharing opportunities, fostering a community, and promoting the inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ population in the wider Brazilian society through information and promotion of diversity.  
  • Joshua Martoma (United States) started KidsMates, an online community of over 2.7M children with incarcerated parents that promotes family bonding through resource videos, blogs, and interviews. 
  • Mia Lee (United States) created LingoX, a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with the goal of making language courses more accessible for underserved communities.
  • Nikhar Singh (South Africa) created a support group in his school to break down the stigma associated with mental health and provide peer-to-peer counseling and advice.

The full list of winners can be found at:

With its global partners ranging from educational institutions to businesses and local governments, Rise identifies talented 15-17-year-olds and supports them as they leverage their ideas, energy, and initiative to solve the problems facing society and our natural world. Rise aims to empower the next generation of leaders to realize their tremendous potential and commitment to serve others throughout their lives. 

Dr Elizabeth Kiss, CEO of the Rhodes Trust, commented: “At the Rhodes Trust we are passionate about the power of young people to lead transformational change. The latest cohort of Rise Global Winners shows that this confidence is well founded, and we look forward to welcoming them all to our intergenerational and international community of people who want to make a positive difference.”

Additionally, starting September 28th, Rise opened its fourth application cycle, inviting young people ages 15 to 17 (as of July 1, 2024) to apply for the 2023-2024 Rise Challenge through January 17, 2024.  

Everyone who applies to Rise, from anywhere in the world, gains a network of peers, and a curated offering of opportunities from Rise’s partners around the world. To learn more and apply to the Rise challenge, visit:  

The program provides the following benefits to Rise Global Winners:

  • Residential Summit: One fully-funded in-person residential summit with other Rise Global Winners from their cohort. Attendance at this summit is required to maintain Global Winner status. 
    • Higher Education Scholarships: A four-year, post-secondary scholarship, including tuition and a living stipend, based on need and where not already covered by financial aid. 
    • Funding for Ideas on a Competitive Basis: Opportunity to apply for funding to experiment with innovative ideas to address major problems in local communities or around the world–ranging, for example, from the seed money to start a social enterprise to a grant for a non-profit. Funds will be available competitively to Winners and Finalists. 
  • Network Matching: Access to a network of other Global Winners, community members, and partner organizations, as well as career development programming, delivered primarily through technology (via our matching platform). 
  • Starter Technology Packages: A technology package, such as a laptop or tablet, to be determined and issued immediately before or during the first semester/term of post-secondary education. 

The program may provide additional benefits and services to Winners and other members depending on need and funding. These may include the opportunity to apply for scholarships for a graduate degree; access to partner opportunities (e.g., a database providing links to community members so they can apply to other scholarship programs); and additional convening, whether virtual or in person, for network members to work on areas of common interest (e.g., AI).




About Rise

Rise is a program that finds promising young people and provides them with opportunities that allow them to work together to serve others over their lifetimes. The program starts at ages 15–17 and offers benefits including scholarships, mentorship, access to career development opportunities, funding, and more as Global Winners work toward solving humanity’s most pressing problems. For more information about Rise, visit 


About Schmidt Futures

Founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that finds and connects talented people across fields, generations, and geographies to harness their collective skills for public benefit. To learn more about our method and the diverse types of capital and tools that we deploy, visit 


About Rhodes Trust

The Rhodes Trust, based at the University of Oxford, is an educational charity that forges brighter futures for individuals and the world through a family of global fellowship programmes. The Rhodes Scholarship is the world’s pre-eminent graduate fellowship, bringing exceptional people of character to the University of Oxford to study. Over 8000 Rhodes Scholars, from more than 50 countries, have gone on to serve at the forefront of education, business, science, medicine, the arts, politics and beyond. Alongside visionary partners around the world, we are proud to be a global family of programmes: the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, Atlantic Institute, Schmidt Science Fellows, Rise, and Oxford Next Horizons.   


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