Philanthropists Eric and Wendy Schmidt have announced a $1 billion commitment to help identify, develop, and support young people working to address the world's most pressing problems.
Building on philanthropic investments totaling more than $1 billion made by the couple over the last thirteen years through the Schmidt Family Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, 11th Hour Racing, and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, the commitment includes support for those initiatives as well as a new program, Rise, at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative and venture facility launched in 2017 to identify exceptional leaders and support them in their efforts to serve others. A partnership with the Rhodes Trust, the program will focus on increasing opportunities for exceptional young people to engage in lifelong service and learning across disciplines by connecting them with a global community of students, teachers, and institutions. Through the program, talented young people between the ages of 15 and 17 will receive scholarships, mentoring, career counseling, and other kinds of support.
Beginning in 2020, Rise will award the winners of an annual competition a residential fellowship before their final year of high school that provides them with opportunities to explore ways they can serve others, become an effective leader, and transition to higher education and a rewarding career. In addition, a larger group of finalists (eventually numbering at least a hundred) will be invited to join a global community of support to leverage their individual impact. Rise will develop a platform to match network members with common interests, encourage them to make joint service commitments, and provide funding and other support for their nonprofits and social enterprises.
"All around the world there are brilliant and visionary people who could do so much more to help their communities and the world if they had the support and opportunity," said Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google. "All too often, those individuals are isolated at a very young age and don't have access to the resources that can help them develop their ideas. Rise will find and connect these exceptional young people — and give them individualized support they need — so they can work together to serve others."
"We believe that when we harness the human power of great ideas and support them with resources, tools and a network to leverage that raw talent and potential, only then will we solve the environmental, societal and health problems that threaten our very existence," said Wendy Schmidt. "We've learned so much over these past years, and across all initiatives and every issue, we know that people are the critical foundation for success. We're excited to increase our philanthropic commitment to have an even greater impact on our communities and world."