Join Us in Supporting the Afghan Future Fund

September 9, 2021

To the Schmidt Futures community,

Over the last few weeks, we’ve watched the devastating events in Afghanistan unfold. The images of turmoil have shocked the world, leaving many people asking how they can help.

To meet this challenge, together with the Yalda Hakim Foundation we have helped organize the Afghan Future Fund. The Fund is a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a 501(c)(3) US public charity. Through the efforts of Schmidt Futures, the Yalda Hakim Foundation, and a variety of worldwide government and NGO partners, we have already been able to evacuate Afghan civil society leaders, women’s advocates, women university students, and others through multiple airlifts. Now the Fund will help provide for their care in Albania and Iraq, and invest for the long term to advance high-potential Afghan talent, support their education, and promote their efforts to advance democracy and preserve their culture. We invite you to join us in becoming a founding member of the Fund here:

To help extraordinary people to solve the world’s toughest problems, we need to use every tool at our disposal. Every element of our model—connecting brilliant people into networks across fields, competing and challenging ideas, bringing multiple types of capital to bear, and applying science and technology thoughtfully through modern tools—was essential to the recent rescues in Afghanistan. I couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished by moving quickly and decisively with exceptional partners, including Yalda Hakim, Jared Cohen, Vance Serchuk, Arezo Kohistany, Sabina Cerić, Dina Powell, and Neil Brown. The leadership of our co-founders Eric and Wendy Schmidt has made this work possible. But there is more to do, and the work continues.

In addition to learning how you can support the Afghan Future Fund, you can read more about our recent work in the newsletter below. All of us at Schmidt Futures welcome your partnership, your ideas, and your feedback.

Eric Braverman

Top Center: Afghan refugees come together in Albania after being safely evacuated from Kabul. Middle Left: A group of Afghans gather for evacuation. Middle Right: Children play safely in Albania. Bottom Left: US Ambassador Yuri Kim, Albanian Foreign Minister Olta Xhaçka, Schmidt Futures CEO Eric Braverman, and Yalda Hakim Foundation representative Arezo Kohistany meet with refugees in Tirana. Bottom Right: Schmidt Futures special counselor Andrew Moore distributes supplies to Afghan women in Albania.

Supporting the Afghan Future Fund

The Afghan Future Fund is a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a US 501(c)(3) public charity, and has been created by the Yalda Hakim Foundation and Schmidt Futures.

We invite you to join us as founding members. The Fund will welcome contributions here:

Identifying Talent with Russell Westbrook’s Why Not? Foundation


Finding and developing talent to build a better world is more important now than ever. This year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo reminded us how powerful identifying that talent can be.

Los Angeles Lakers’ Russell Westbrook, a 9-time NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, and our CEO Eric Braverman have proposed solutions right now to answer a critical question: How can we use Olympic-level athletic scouting techniques to attract and develop talent to solve the world’s hardest problems? Read the USA Today op-ed.

Supporting Brilliant Young People Around the World through “Rise”


The Rise Team meets with the Latin American Leadership Academy in Brazil.

Our flagship program, Rise, has selected 500 finalists out of tens of thousands of applicants from more than 165 countries. These brilliant young people are now being considered to be part of the first-ever cohort of 100 winners, who may receive support for life—from scholarships to mentorship to seed funding—to use their brilliance to serve others.

We’re grateful to our more than 30 partners from across six continents who are helping identify and support these talented young people. The Yalda Hakim Foundation helped identify applicants from Afghanistan—and one of them is now a finalist.

This summer, Rise also welcomed its inaugural Executive Director, Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg!

She joins Rise from her previous role as Director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development in Nairobi, Kenya, for which she was named one of the 100 Most Influential African Women of 2021.

Wanjiru will work together with other extraordinary team members, including Rise Director of Operations Mark German, who led the development of over 200 educational products and a dozen large-scale programs for more than 12 million students and educators worldwide before joining Rise.

International Strategy Forum Mobilizes Its Network of Emerging Geopolitical Leaders


The International Strategy Forum gathers in Colorado. Photography by Jordon Kern.

The International Strategy Forum aims to forge an interdisciplinary network of rising leaders to strengthen progress and security amid technological innovation and a changing world order. In August, fellows from both the 2020 and 2021 classes working across technology, business, policy, national security, law, academia, and philanthropy gathered at their first convening in Colorado. Meet the fellows.

This network of young leaders and experienced geopolitical counselors around the world has already proven invaluable. When the Afghanistan crisis unfolded, ISF community members mobilized their networks and resources to launch their own rescues and to support Schmidt Futures’ efforts to help Afghans reach safety. They are continuing to coordinate to support refugees in the months ahead

Schmidt Futures Spotlight: Dana Chermesh Reshef 

Schmidt Futures Entrepreneur-in-Residence Dana Chermesh Reshef founded inCitu to democratize urban development by incentivizing community participation through immersive experiences. Her augmented reality platform brings 3D models into the urban context so local residents can provide input on proposed projects. Recently, inCitu ran its first pilot at Madison Square Garden, then went on to win first place in the #ARDeveloperChallenge in Long Beach, California. Check out the technology on the inCituAR App!

Coming Up at Schmidt Futures

Futures Forum on Learning Series: Throughout September, we’re hosting the Futures Forum on Learning, a series of weekly discussions among leaders in education and technology on the immense gaps in learning created by COVID-19, and the opportunities to overcome them. The series leads up to the October 1st deadline of the Learning Engineering Tools Competition—one of the largest ed-tech competitions in the world. Register here for the first event on September 9th!

Synthetic Biology Initiative: We’re launching a new effort to seed the next wave of innovation in synthetic biology and the bioeconomy, led by our newest Senior Fellow, Mary Maxon, from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.


Learn more about Schmidt Futures and connect with our team at