RISE Showcase & Awards

2021 U21 RISE Banner

RISE (Real Impact on Society and Environment) is U21's international showcase of student achievement in sustainability and social innovation, designed to accelerate the scale and impact of student-led projects by connecting them with a network of experts in academia and industry. As a U21 member, UConn is invited to nominate student-led projects that address at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. UConn may nominate 2 projects led solely by UConn students and 2 joint projects involving students from 2+ U21 member universities.


  • You are a current UConn student or recent graduate (two years or less) with a voluntary social enterprise or environmental project that you wish to scale up/develop/build.
  • Your project is not just an idea, but you have started to implement it in some way.
  • Your project directly addresses at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Projects may be led by an individual or by a group of seven or fewer members. Groups must be comprised of current UConn students and/or recent UConn graduates (two years or less from graduation). Groups may also contain students from another U21 member institution. No advisors, faculty, or external students may be a part of the group.
  • If you have already received or applied for other development funding and awards, you may still enter the competition. However, all current or pending applications or awards must be disclosed in your application.

More information is also available through the 2024 U21 RISE Handbook.


1. Written Application

UConn requires a written application form along with the video pitch. Please use the attached UConn Application Form.

2. Video Pitch

  • Your video pitch is your chance to make a great first impression and attract supporters and pledges. Plan your pitch carefully so it stands out and accurately represents you and your project.
  • The 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. A 3-5 minute video should be sufficient to clearly and concisely pitch your work while remaining engaging. While you may incorporate existing content, your 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 you can 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, or utilize other creative approaches.

        Nominated entries will have access to a global audience of experts in academia and industry. The culmination of the Showcase will be the RISE Awards, where a panel of experts will review the entries and award prizes. Prize packages will be tailor-made to the winners to help further develop their projects and contain $2,000 in seed funding. Global Affairs reserves the right to disqualify projects that do not fit the above-mentioned eligibility and submission guidelines and those in the U21 RISE Handbook.


        • 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 scalable is this initiative? What is the future business plan and how would the project team make use of future investment? What could your project use from U21 in the form of mentorship, legal advice, grant application reviews, networking opportunities, industry- or location-specific assistance?



        Submit your completed application form and video file by Monday, May 20, 2024, to globalpartnerships@uconn.edu.

        Please use the following naming conventions for the documents:

        • "Group Leader Last Name.Group Leader First Name - U21 RISE Application Form"
        • "Group Leader Last Name.Group Leader First Name - U21 RISE Video Pitch"


        • May 20, 2024 - UConn submission deadline
        • Week of May 20-24, 2024 - UConn selection committee meets to select two nominees, notify applicants, and submit winning videos to U21
        • June 2024 - Winners announced by U21


        2019 UConn Submission to RISE

        Baby Boxes in Uganda: An Infant Mortality Initiative
        Hannah Purtell and Megan Grammatico
        UConn School of Medicine

        2019 UConn First Runner Up

        Peru Sanitation Initiative
        Nicholas Erskine, Maggie Daniel, Mateo Escobar, Emily Maciejewski
        UConn Engineers Without Borders
        UConn School of Engineering