Rise For The World: Betting on the exceptional and providing lifetime of educational and professional benefits to the World’s most-talented teens
Each year, Rise invites 15–17-year old’s from around the world to participate in the Rise 100 Challenge. A global initiative by Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes trust, Rise provides its 100 winners with lifelong benefits including scholarship, funding and career and job opportunities. The benefits of being a member of the Rise community lasts a lifetime.
The Rise Challenge encourages applicants to create an individual project that demonstrates their talents and benefits their communities, and peer review other applicants’ projects, among other activities.
Guardian got a chance to speak with Tolulope Olasewere, Co-founder Build Nigeria, and a partner of Rise and Tomisin Ogunnubi, 2021 Winner of the Rise Challenge to share more about the opportunity and how interested teens can participate.
Here’s what they had to say.
Hi Ms. Tolulope Olasewere, tell us a bit about who you are?
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria where I attended secondary school before going to Harvard University, where I studied Government and Philosophy, and which I recently graduated from. I am passionate about systemic change in Nigeria, especially surrounding education policy and reform, as well as educational justice. I co-founded BUILD Nigeria because I believe that every single student deserves to attend educational institutions that can give them the tools and resources, they need to achieve I believe in Nigerian youth and their aspirations.
What do you do at Build Nigeria?
BUILD Nigeria is a non-profit NGO that is dedicated to bridging the college access gap in Nigeria by providing credible and comprehensive resources and personalized guidance for low-income students in the application process to top universities. What that means is that we take a cohort of brilliant students and give them the tools they need to take their place in this competitive, dynamic world we live in. We guide them through the admissions process to world class institutions of their choice and support them in order for them to acquire scholarships and alternative opportunities that facilitate their attendance. Simultaneously we are working to launch our free online resource bank on our website that is open to the public so that anyone that is self-motivated can access the resources they need. We are investing directly in the lives and futures of Nigerian students, and we have no doubts that they will in turn be advocates for Nigeria in spaces where other Nigerians are not present.
Who is Tomisin Ogunnubi and what is she passionate about?
Well, Tomisin, is a 2nd-year Computer science student at Imperial College London. She is passionate about technology and diversity within the field. These passions influence her Rise project where she researched the gender disparity within tech, aiming to understand its causes and possible solutions. She’s been involved in several tech initiatives such as hackathons, robotics competitions and app developments and more. For some of these, she’s received recognition from the BBC and international robotics organizations. Tomisin is currently the web administrator for the African Caribbean Society at her university and is also an outreach ambassador. These are parts of her wider efforts to increase representation in underrepresented places and use technology to help people. Outside of her degree, Tomisin enjoys basketball, reading and dancing.
As a Rise year 1 winner, Tomisin; tell us about your project and the problem it aims to solve
My project was an algorithm presented in form of a quiz to highlight the possible misconceptions, biases, and interests that girls between the ages of 12-18 had regarding technology. This project was motivated to a large extent by my own experiences. I was introduced to tech from an early age but as I mentioned earlier, whenever I would attend tech-related programs or events both in Nigeria and abroad, I often found myself being one out of a few girls and most times the only black girl. To me, the numbers never added up so I sought to understand what the contributing factors were to the limited number of girls in tech and what could be done to address them. For my research, I used secondary resources such as reports like Cracking the Code by UNESCO and some articles written on the subject. I also used primary research from a survey I created for girls between 12-17 on the subject. I found that misconceptions such as it being male-oriented or very costly were contributing factors as well as some unconscious bias relating males to science. Putting all these factors together, I created a series of quizzes that identify if people had any of these misconceptions or biases and then debunked some of those myths and provided resources to help people explore tech and the facts. This was an initial part of my wider goal of addressing the disparities that exist within the tech field.
Hi again Tolu, tell us, what is Build Nigeria’s role as a partner of Rise, and what support does it offer interested teens in applying for the year 3 rise challenge?
As a Rise partner, we have access to a broader range of potential applicants and help disperse the message of the Rise challenge amongst brilliant Nigerian youths with the potential to take on the challenge.
We enable applicants that come through us to keep up to date with information from Rise, and support and encourage them to follow through on what can be a rigorous application. Having one Rise winner from our cohort, we are familiar with the journey it can take students on and are here to support applicants directly by sharing our experience with the process and providing a link to Rise for those needing further support. We will be hosting several events that you can look out for on our social media, @buildnigeria_ on instagram
What advice or tips do you have for other teenagers aspiring to enter the rise challenge?
I would advise any potential Rise applicants to simply express and display their authentic selves during the application process. The Rise application is not conventional as it asks for video responses rather than essays or grades. This is because they want to see your passion shine through your application. I would implore people to understand that their passion and skills are enough. Sometimes there may be the tendency to look through other applications, that seem technical, and try to change your idea, to match others. Don’t do that because Rise values diversity and originality. Lastly, I would advise them to embrace the Rise community. Almost every Rise community member will say it’s the community that stands out with Rise.
Tell us, how can interested applicants apply for the year 3 rise challenge?
That’s easy, just go to bit.ly/risefortheworld to begin their application. They can also go to our Instagram @buildnigeria_ where they can scan and share a QR code or find the same link in our bio. On our instagram, applicants can also keep up with updates about the Rise challenge, BUILD support events, and get useful tips from our cohort’s 2022 global rise challenge winner.