The world of business is changing. Consumers no longer rally around the companies that simply create products they love…they want to see companies that support causes that matter to them.

Social entrepreneurship is all about building a business that focuses on solving social issues and enacting change. Social entrepreneurs either form non-profits, or they blend for-profit goals with generating a positive impact on society or their community.

Social entrepreneurship is becoming more and more popular among younger generations, with organizations like SEIF finding that the average age of their social entrepreneur applicants was 34, with most CEOs and Founders being born in the 1990s. HuffPost even found that a staggering 94% of Millennials want to use their skills to benefit a cause.

The economic focus of future generations is clearly shifting from profit to other important priorities like family, community, and the environment, and as a result, there are now many amazing options available for young social entrepreneurs in the competition space!

Check out these six entrepreneurship competitions that provide students with an avenue to grow their social entrepreneurship enterprises, network with other socially-conscious peers, and even earn awards and gain access to resources that will help them throughout their careers.


Ages 15-17

Free to Apply 

Rise is a competition uniquely designed for students who are passionate about social entrepreneurship. The program allows anyone who applies to join their global network, which connects students to leaders in social entrepreneurship and allows them to access free online courses and opportunities from their partners around the world.

Rise’s Global Winners receive individualized, lifelong support to empower them to achieve their goals and serve others. Winners are invited to a fully-funded, three-week residential summit, receive mentoring and career support, gain access to virtual and in-person leadership and educational courses, earn a four-year scholarship to any accredited university, and are awarded with a technology package.

Lifetime benefits for Rise Global Winners even include graduate-level scholarships, program and internship matching, and ongoing funding opportunities!


BizWorld’s Young Entrepreneur Success! Program

Ages 17-19

Free to Register

The YES! Program helps young entrepreneurs develop successful businesses by providing education, tools, and resources. Applicants must submit a professional pitch to be considered, and viable businesses will be selected to participate in the online business Accelerator, receive mentorship, and attend interactive virtual workshops.

Top businesses will have the opportunity to give a live pitch for a chance to receive up to $30,000 in funding for their startup, as well as an entire year of professional support to take their business to the next level.


NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge

Ages 11-18

The NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is an eight-month-long series of business plan and pitch competitions that take place at the local, regional and national levels, culminating in a high-stakes national championship in New York City.

The Challenge begins with pitch competitions at the local classroom or camp level. Pitch competition winners have the potential to advance to the regional, then national level. National finalists compete against the best young entrepreneurs from across the country for the chance to win seed capital they can use to grow their business, launch a new business, or pursue their education goals.


Blue Ocean

Ages 14-17

Free to Register

The Blue Ocean Competition is an internationally recognized pitch competition for young entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs. Thousands of students around the world compete to win cash prizes for their three to five-minute-long business pitches, and are scored based on their innovation and creativity, market potential, feasibility, presentation quality, and use of Blue Ocean concepts.


Brower Youth Awards

Ages 13-22

Free to Apply

A great fit for social entrepreneurs in the environmental space, the Brower Youth Award is a program of the Earth Island Institute. Every year, the Brower Youth Award recognizes six young leaders who are making a positive impact on the environment. Brower Youth Award winners must demonstrate excellent leadership, as well as a commitment to the communities their work serves.

Winners’ documentaries are shown on the night of the awards ceremony, and they each have the opportunity to deliver an acceptance speech about their project or campaign. Each winner receives a $3,000 cash prize, and becomes a Brower Youth Awards alumni, keeping them connected with past winners. Leading up to the award ceremony, the New Leaders Initiative provides a week-long forum that includes mentorship, training, visioning, networking, and career coaching to build skills and capacity to effect change.

The program has a deep commitment to elevating voices from socio-economic and culturally diverse backgrounds so that they can move forward as successful innovators and activists.


Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

Ages 8-18

Free to Apply

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes honors 25 outstanding youth leaders from diverse backgrounds across North America every year. Young leaders and social entrepreneurs are awarded this prize based on their positive impact on people, their communities, and the environment.

Winners receive a $10,000 award, a personalized plaque and certificate, a Young Heroes Materials package, induction into the Barron Prize young heroes network, and print, television, and radio media coverage to extend the reach of their service work.

Rise, an initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust, is one of the largest scholarship programs in the world. Top winners could be awarded $500,000 in benefits, depending on demonstrated need, over the course of their lives. Even though these benefits can be life-changing for the recipients, the resources are not all students will gain when joining the Rise global community.

With a focus on helping the brightest minds succeed despite their circumstances, anyone ages 15-17 can apply no matter where they live or how much they can afford for school. All that’s required is a student’s vision for a brighter world and a willingness to do something about it.

The application for the inaugural cohort is underway. Participants are in the second stage, working on a project to demonstrate their talent and passion. Along the way, they will learn valuable skills in professionalism and collaboration with global leaders through the Rise network.

In July, Rise will select 100 Global Winners to receive a lifetime of benefits. However, there is also an opportunity for all participants to access the organization’s resources and community to help them better their lives. Students can follow Rise on social media to attend virtual community events, learn from experts, and follow the journey of the first cohort.

The 100 students selected as the Rise Global Winners will receive financial aid for college, internships, and necessary technology. The amount given is based on the demonstrated need of each individual winner. In addition to the financial support, winners will receive access to free online courses as well as the invitation to attend a residential summit to learn more about potential career paths. This trip will be fully funded for the winners opening this benefit up to all interested participants.

The benefits of becoming a Rise Global Winner do not stop when a student graduates. Winners will receive mentorship as they start their careers and be able to apply for funding to help them make an impact with the work they do.

As part of the application process, participants will learn how to share their stories in an impactful way and learn how to represent themselves professionally. Participants will also start their portfolio off with an impressive project to showcase their skills. If a participant happens to apply for multiple years, they will have a professional project in their portfolio to showcase from each year they apply.

One great aspect of Rise is that participants can choose any project to submit with their application. This is intended to let the students’ talents, passions, and dreams shine through in the best way possible. From music and art to software development and political movements, applicants can demonstrate what they care about in the most meaningful way.

No matter the project, participants will start by creating a project plan and committing to spending 20-30 hours over two months completing their projects. After the project is complete, up to 500 finalists will be moved to the interview portion of the application process.

In this interview, participants will share their motivations, solutions for the future, and innovative thinking. From there, 100 Global Winners will be selected to win lifetime benefits.

Rise is a fabulous opportunity for students looking to make the world a better place despite their circumstances. Applications for the second cohort will open at the end of 2021. In the meantime, you can follow along the application journey of the first cohort on Rise’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @risefortheworld.



To learn more, head to our competitions page to see what academic competitions are coming up. Set up your account to follow competitions that excite you and stay up-to-date on all the news with academic competitions.

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What would you do if you could join a global community of future leaders and receive $500,000 in benefits throughout your life?

This is the question Rise, a program from Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust, asks of 15 to 17 year old students. Rise was built upon the idea that our world’s global challenges will be solved by young innovators from all around the world. Rise creates opportunities for these talented young people, so they can turn their ideas into reality in the service of others.

Rise recently joined the ICS network of featured competitions and we wanted to share some of the exciting aspects we found from talking with the program leaders.

Rise, one of the largest scholarship opportunities in the world, is unique from most other scholarship contests in that it provides benefits to Global Winners for life! Winners could receive scholarships for university, mentorship and career services, and funding to scale up their impact or start a social enterprise. Taken together, these benefits could exceed USD $500,000, depending on need, over the course of a winner’s life! Few scholarship contests provide the long-term benefits and collaborative network of support that Rise has put together.

Just by applying to Rise, students join a global community of future leaders from more than 150 countries around the world. Participants meet peers, take free online courses, and access new opportunities from the Rise network of partners.

Apply to Rise! And don’t wait—the deadline is January 29, 2021.

At the Institute of Competition Sciences, we understand better than most how daunting it can be navigating the complex world of academic competitions, contests, and scholarships. Every program has different requirements and evaluation criteria. Rise doesn’t use a typical application. Instead, you download the Hello World – Rise app and share information about yourself by recording short selfie videos. The first stage of the application only takes 30 minutes! Rise doesn’t just care about your grades and test scores—they want to understand your passion and potential.

Rise focuses on five core traits for their lifelong scholarship recipients:

  1. Brilliance: You learn quickly and challenge themselves with new problems.
  2. Perseverance: Obstacles don’t keep you down for long. You embrace the challenge and overcome it.
  3. Calling: Your superpower, your passion. You care about something and have the motivation to achieve it.
  4. Integrity: Honesty and strong moral principles are core to who you are.
  5. Empathy: You understand others and relate to their experiences.

So what are you waiting for? It doesn’t matter what country you live in, background you come from, or academic experiences you have had. If you want to use your talents for good, Rise wants to hear from you!



To learn more about this academic competition and more, head to our competitions page to see what academic competitions are coming up. Set up your account to follow competitions that excite you and stay up-to-date on all the news with academic competitions.

Upgrade to a premium account so you can track your progress in competitions, get insider information on academic competitions, access the ICS competitions concierge, and gain exclusive discounts on ICS-managed programs.