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Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt & Wife Wendy Schmidt fund RISE program

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt assembles his teen avengers

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt & Wife Wendy Schmidt fund RISE program
Google Rise Award Program // Illustration by Kate Walker

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt assembles his teen avengers


The Future. Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy Schmidt, are building a support system around the world’s most promising teenagers through their “Rise” program. The program has already selected 100 winners, who will receive years of support to make their dreams come true… and hopefully solve a litany of social problems. With the Schmidts planning on scaling up the program every year, the program could be integral in connecting a global generation to solve issues too big for any one person.

World’s Greatest Teens
Eric and Wendy Schmidt are building a support system around the world’s most promising teenagers.

  • The couple (who have a net worth of $23.1 billion) selected the first cohort of  winners of their “Rise” program, which was created to “identify, develop and support global talent working in service of others.”
  • After a worldwide search, the program has selected 100 winners from over 50,000 applications.
  • The winners will be awarded “full-ride college scholarships to any accredited four-year university they chose, plus stipends, mentorship programs and access to other winners.”
  • They’ll also be set up at a three-week summit in South Africa this July and receive laptops and tablets to continue their work and stay in touch with other winners.

In the future, winners will also be able to “apply for graduate scholarships, grants for their non-profits and seed money to start social enterprises.”

Youth Combinator
The winners come from 42 different countries, represent 20 spoken languages, and are interested in a range of topics. They include Indian 16-year-old Aryan Sharma, who created an app that uses AI to scan X-rays for “abnormalities,” and Seattle high-schooler Aadya Bhat, who developed a device that could lower clothing racks for people in wheelchairs.

For the Schmidts, the goal was to help tackle the world’s issues by identifying and supporting the exact people who are at the very beginning of their journey, hopefully producing a fraternity of globally-connected problem solvers. Schmidt says that the “science” came back that “great talent appears by 16,” and so they want to make an investment while they “have the ability to change their future outcome.”

The search is already on for next year’s cohort, with the hope of scaling the program more and more every year. According to Schmidt: “We have the money.”