NBA Africa and Rise partner to engage exceptionally talented teenagers around the world

JOHANNESBURG – NBA Africa and Rise, a global initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust that finds exceptionally talented young people who need opportunity and supports them throughout their lives as they work to serve others, today launched a campaign to encourage youth ages 15-17 from across Africa and around the world to apply to the Rise Challenge.

As the anchor program of a broader $1 billion philanthropic commitment from Eric and Wendy Schmidt to support global talent, Rise focuses on identifying promising young people and providing them with opportunities, resources and support.  As part of the Rise Challenge, Rise will select 100 Global Winners from tens of thousands of applicants from around the world to participate in the 2022 Rise Cohort.  Each of the 100 Rise Global Winners will receive benefits over the course of their lives, including access to mentorship, career services, leadership development programming and higher education scholarships.

Applicants who apply through NBA Africa’s campaign will be invited to a virtual session featuring an NBA player or legend.  Those applicants who become Rise Finalists as a part of this initiative will receive NBA merchandise and have the opportunity to participate in custom NBA programming.

“With aligned missions to seek out, cultivate and enrich talent, Rise is proud to team up with the NBA to find and support a network of extraordinary people from diverse backgrounds worldwide who have the potential to serve others together for life,” said Rise Executive Director, Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg.  “By leveraging the power of the basketball community to excite and engage, we hope we are able to inspire even more youth to rise to the Rise Challenge.”

“We are excited to partner with Rise as part of our commitment to providing more opportunities for young people in Africa and around the world to learn and grow,” said NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams.  “We look forward to helping Rise identify and develop the next generation of leaders who will drive transformative change across the continent and globally.”

The inaugural cohort of 100 Rise Global Winners, who were announced in October 2021, were selected from tens of thousands of applicants who come from 42 countries and speak more than 20 languages, including 25 young people from Africa.

Young people ages 15-17 as of July 1, 2022 can apply for the 2022 Rise Cohort.  Applications are now being accepted through the “Hello World Network,” a mobile application available in Google Play and the iOS App Store.

Unlike many traditional applications, Rise uses videos, projects, and group interviews that give applicants multiple opportunities to showcase their potential.  For applicants without access to mobile technology, Rise offers alternative pathways through web-browser and paper applications.

The Rise Challenge has three stages.  Applicants introduce themselves through videos, create an individual project that demonstrates their talents and benefits their communities, and peer review other applicants’ projects, among other activities.

After applicants complete the Rise Challenge, Rise selects up to 500 Finalists to advance to “Finalist Days,” where they will demonstrate their motivations, problem-solving abilities and teamwork skills in an innovative interview format.

From the 500 Finalists, Rise selects 100 Global Winners who will gain access to a lifetime of benefits as they work to serve others.  Additionally, all qualified applicants join a global community of leaders and gain access to custom courses as well as funding and other opportunities from partners around the world.

NBA Africa and Rise’s collaboration builds on NBA Africa’s commitment to supporting youth across the continent at the grassroots level through programs like the Jr. NBA, and at the elite level through programs like Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Africa and NBA Academy Africa, all of which include life skills programming focused on advancing gender equality, leadership and character development, and health and wellness education.

The NBA opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010.  Since then, the league’s efforts in Africa have focused on increasing access to basketball and the NBA through grassroots and elite development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, NBA Africa Games, the launch of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), and more.  In May, the NBA launched NBA Africa as a new, standalone entity that conducts the league’s business in Africa, including the BAL.

For more information about how to apply, visit

About Schmidt Futures
Schmidt Futures bets early on exceptional people making the world better.  Founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that creates public value from private philanthropy through risk transfer—showing that brilliant people in networks can solve hard problems in science and society by connecting across fields, competing and challenging ideas, bringing multiple types of capital to bear, and applying science and technology thoughtfully through tools such as AI.

About the NBA
The NBA is a global sports and media business built around four professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the NBA G League and the NBA 2K League.  The NBA has also partnered with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a new professional league featuring the top 12 club teams from across Africa.  The NBA has established a major international presence with games and programming available in 215 countries and territories in more than 50 languages, and merchandise for sale in more than 200 countries and territories on all seven continents.  NBA rosters at the start of the 2021-22 season featured a record 121 international players from 40 countries.  NBA Digital’s assets include NBA TV,, the NBA App and NBA League Pass.  The NBA has created one of the largest social media communities in the world, with 2.1 billion likes and followers globally across all league, team, and player platforms.  Through NBA Cares, the league addresses important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes.

About The Rhodes Trust
The Rhodes Trust, based at the University of Oxford, builds a better world through global fellowship programs that develop and connect compassionate, innovative, and public-spirited people committed to solving humanity’s challenges.  Our flagship program, established in 1903, is the Rhodes Scholarship, the world’s pre-eminent graduate scholarship.  Nearly 8,000 Rhodes Scholars have gone on to serve at the forefront of government, education, the arts, NGOs, commerce, research and other sectors.  They are well known advocates for expanded social justice, and have advanced the frontiers of science and medicine.