RISE - Information for Students

RISE 2021/2022

RISE 2021/22 will open to university applications by November 2021. Entries are submitted by universities, not by individuals. Final video entries for nominated project must be submitted in March 2022.

To find out how to be involved in RISE at your university you will need to contact your university's RISE contact. If you don't know who this is, please email amber.bartlett@universitas21.com .

Is my project eligible?

If you have a voluntary, social enterprise or environmental project that you would like to scale up, develop, and build, then RISE is for you.

If you are a current student or recent graduate (2 years or less) who started your project whilst at university, then you can participate[1]. You must have started to implement your project in some way (it cannot be just an idea), but it can still be at very early stages of development.

The project must directly address at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These aren’t just about environmental action, they cover almost every aspect of environmental and societal development. In practice most non-profit and social innovation projects will already be addressing at least one goal, even if you didn’t realise it! To get an idea of the type of projects eligible for RISE, check out the 2019 and 2020 RISE showcases

Projects may be individual or group led. Where there is a large student group (e.g. a student society), a leadership group of up to 7 students should be identified as the main entrants.

You can still enter if you have already received or applied for other development funding and awards. However, all current or pending applications or awards must be declared when you enter RISE, so that we can establish there is no conflict of interest.

Examples of project actions eligible for RISE
Your project could be at any of these three action-focused stages

How to take part

All the information you need, can be found in the RISE Handbook.

Once your project is nominated by your university you will enter your project to RISE by video submission. Entries are submitted by universities, not by individuals. If you are a student who wishes to enter their project, please contact your university for information about how to get involved at a local level. You can find your university contact by emailing amber.bartlett@universitas21.com.

Guidelines for submitting the video

If you are selected by your university to take part in RISE 2020/21 you will need to submit a video pitch of your project.

  • Your video pitch is your chance to make a great first impression and attract potential supporters and pledges. Plan your pitch carefully so it stands out and really represents you and your project.

  • Your video can be recorded in any language; however, it must have English subtitles (even if it is recorded in English). This will help to reach a global audience and will also improve the accessibility of your pitch.

  • Your video must be no longer than 5 minutes long. We recommend 3-5 minutes: enough time to clearly pitch your work, whilst remaining concise and engaging.
  • Whilst you may incorporate existing content, your 3-5 minute video must be an original piece of work that is not available publicly anywhere else.
  • Your video should demonstrate:
    • What your project is and why it is important
    • Which of the Sustainable Development Goals you are addressing
    • What you have achieved so far
    • What your future plans are and what kind of pledge what be most helpful
  • You can explain this information in a number of ways, for example:
    • Present directly to camera
    • Interview people involved with the project
    • Film one of your events or activities
    • Create an animation or infographic explaining your work

Getting pledges

Once your video is live, U21 will work to connect you with potential supporters across our global network. But you can also use your own networks to build support. We recommend that you highlight your participation in RISE through your social media using the hashtag #u21RISE and encourage your contacts to make a pledge via the U21 website.

When U21 receives a pledge, it will first be reviewed by our advisory committee to ensure, as far as possible, that the offer is genuine, practical, and ethical. We will then contact the student and institution in question with details of the pledge, before we make contact. We will never share your details with a pledger without your consent.

Every project team is guaranteed at least one pledge, from the University of Maryland Do Good Institute, who have offered a mentoring meeting to every group that participates. You’ll also get access to a short webinar series on the themes of storytelling and fundraising.

To find out more about pledges, click here.

RISE Awards

  • Once entry to the showcase has closed, all videos received will be entered into the RISE Awards. While the entries are assessed the videos will remain on the website, and members of the public can continue to pledge support as above.

  • Videos will not be judged on the amount of pledges or support they have received, but only on the criteria below.
  • There are four prize categories: Most Impactful, Most Innovative, Most Potential and Most Collaborative. The winners of each of these categories will receive a tailor-made package of development opportunities, based around your project and your goals.
  • Winners will be notified by U21 within two weeks of the judging process. U21 will then be in touch to set up a meeting with the project team to find out what your goals are, and we’ll go away and come up with prize package that will benefit the whole project team. Note that the winners will be required to put together a short report of their experience.

Judging Criteria

  • The issue: Why is this initiative needed? Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are being addressed?
  • The idea: How well does this initiative respond to the outlined issue? How original is the idea?
  • The impact: What measurable difference has this project already had on the lives of the target population or on the natural environment?
  • The potential: How scaleable is this initiative? What is the future business plan and how would the project team make use of future investment?

If you have any questions or need advice with any aspect of the competition, please contact amber.bartlett@universitas21.com.


[1] NB Your home institution may make this opportunity open only to current students in line with their own policies.