RISE 2019 alumni – Making a Difference in 2020 (Part 3)

U21 Real Impact on Society and Environment (RISE) student competition launched in June 2019 and provides a platform for student innovators across the U21 network to develop projects seeking to improve the lives of others. Each U21 member institution is invited to nominate a student-led project based on an aspect of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 50 students from 16 institutions competed in the 2019 final for the chance to win $2000 seed funding for their project.  

Now more than ever communities need innovative solutions to challenges that may have emerged or been heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic; U21 caught up with some of our RISE 2019 finalists to find out how their projects have progressed and adapted to the challenges of 2020.  

Foodprint: Winner Most Impact

SDGs: GOAL 2: Zero Hunger | GOAL 13: Climate Action

Foodprint is Nottingham’s first social supermarket and a surplus food redistribution network. The store is located in Sneinton, one of Nottingham’s ‘target wards’ where child food poverty levels exceed the national average and is in the top 12% of the most deprived areas in the country. Foodprint simultaneously reduces food waste and helps alleviate food poverty by sourcing surplus food from local partners to then sell this in their Sneinton social supermarket. The shop fills the gap for those who cannot afford good-quality supermarket food but want the choice and dignity food banks can’t provide. Excess food is also redistributed to a variety of other local organisations including school breakfast clubs, community eating hubs and food banks: a key-way of bringing people and communities together, and improving the vitality of other community spaces.

We hear from Farah from Foodprint how they have adapted to the challenges of 2020:

In March, due to the pandemic, the store was as at risk of having to close as supermarkets faced an overwhelming demand, and our volunteers were no longer able to safely work in the store. However, with the perseverance of our team and partners like U21, we stayed open, continuing to serve members of our community during this unprecedented time. Some of Foodprint’s key highlights over the past six months are:

  • Providing 25 care packages, including PPE equipment and food for key-workers at Nottinghamshire Hospice
  • Providing food bundles for over 50 elderly residents across two Nottingham retirement village
  • Continuing to provide food to school breakfast clubs, food banks and homeless shelters across Nottingham
    Bo of basic toiletries

With the generous prize money from U21, our Foodprint team are ALSO currently planning a fresh store renovation of our Sneinton store. We plan to repaint our store, put up new wall signs for our customers  and refurnish it with new and modern furniture so that our community have a fresh and updated place to connect with their community.

Thanks to U21, we are excited to welcome our community into our newly renovated Foodprint store very soon!

FoodPrint shop with shelves of available food


Team3 Farm

SDGs: GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth | GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

Team3 Farm works in Eastern Cape, an area with high poverty and unemployment, leasing arable land that was neglected under apartheid, training underskilled and underqualified people and employing them in farming. Team3 Farm undertakes leadership and education training to create lasting change to poverty and food security.

Despite balancing a busy postgraduate life with leading a social enterprise, Bonginkosi Kalipa has managed to progress Team3 Farm despite the challenges of Covid-19. Now called Harven Ground and registered as a private company, Bonginkosi has used learnings from the RISE finalist development program to perfect the art of telling to story of his venture to really connect with your audience.

Currently Harven Ground has 2 permanent employees and 5 temporary labourers. The company is in the process of farming five hectares of land which they believe will result in 10 additional jobs throughout the supply chain. Luckily as farmer were able to continue work during Lockdown, the farming of their spinach, cabbage and potatoes has thrived!

man in field of planted produce

SDG Awareness Week

SDGs: GOAL 3: Good Health and Wellbeing

The international project team from 6 U21 members have run simultaneous Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) awareness weeks across 6 universities prior to the pandemic. However, COVID-19 is a considerable challenge, so the team continue to work across borders to come up with new ways to adapt to the circumstances. While planning for the next Sustainability week across their 6 global campuses in Spring 2021, the team will be using their experience for the RISE competition and development program particularly in regards to fundraising and gaining that outsider perspective to help think differently about the problems they’re facing.


To find out more about RISE and the 2019 finalist projects, please see our RISE webpages. RISE 2020 is open for member registrations until 19 November 2020. 


Amber Bartlett