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 can nominate 2 projects led solely by UConn students, and 2 joint nominations involving students from 2+ U21 member universities.


  • You are a current UConn student, or recent graduate (two years or less), who has 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 individual or group led. Where there is a large student group (e.g. a student society), a leadership group of up to 7 students should be identified as the main entrants. Note: groups must be comprised solely of students - either (1) entirely of current UConn Students; (2) lead by a current UConn Student and include recent UConn graduates from the last two years; or (3) current UConn Students and Students from another U21 Member Institution. No external members or faculty may be a part of the group.
  • You can still enter if you have already received or applied for other development funding and awards. However, all current or pending applications or awards must be disclosed when you enter RISE, so that U21 can establish there is no conflict of interest.

More information is also available through the U21 Handbook.


1. Written Application

UConn is requiring a written application 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 really 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 long. A 3-5 minutes video should be sufficient time to clearly and concisely pitch your work, while remaining engaging. Whilst 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

        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. 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?

        The Office of Global Affairs will host information sessions and provide more details on the project requirements, submission timeline, and prize packages that will be awarded.

        Interested in learning more? Join us!


        If you are interested in learning more or have questions, kindly email global@uconn.edu to schedule an appointment. You can also stop by during our virtual drop-in hours! Sign up using the the Microsoft Teams links below.

        Monday, 11/15 from 10:00am-11:00am

        Tuesday, 11/16 from 10:00am-11:00am

        Tuesday, 11/16 from 2:00-3:00pm

        Wednesday, 11/17 from 10:00am-11:00am

        Wednesday, 11/17 from 2:00-3:00pm

        Thursday, 11/18 from 10:00am-11:00am

        Thursday, 11/18 from 2:00-3:00pm

        Friday, 11/19 from 10:00am-11:00pm


        Use your UConn Google Drive to share your completed application form, supporting budget in excel, and your video file by Friday, February 11, 2022. Share the files with global@uconn.edu, zahra.ali@uconn.edu and matthew.2.larson@uconn.edu. Set the sharing to editing privileges  so the files can be downloaded and shared with the review committee.

        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 Supporting Budget"
        • "Group Leader Last Name.Group Leader First Name - U21 RISE Video Pitch"


        • November 15-19, 2021 - UConn info sessions held by Global Affairs
        • February 11, 2022 - UConn submission deadline
        • March 16, 2022 - UConn RISE Committee nominates up to 4 projects and their videos are submitted to the U21 RISE Showcase
        • April 2022 - Finalists development programme and judging for RISE Awards
        • April/May 2022 - RISE Showcase online and pledges open


        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

        Other U21 Competition Video Entries

        2018 U21 PwC Innovation Challenge (Winner Round B)

        2016 U21 3MT (People’s Choice Winner)

        2016 U21 Global Ingenuity Challenge (Co-Winner with Korea U)

        Mixed America Playlist

        2018 U21 3MT Competition

        View other U21 institutions' entries to the 3MT, PwC Challenge, and the Global Ingenuity Challenge.