Awarding $1.5M in combined prizes to solutions accelerating postsecondary success for parents.

The Rise Prize

The Rise Prize will make 14 awards totalling $1.5M to solutions driving economic mobility and well-being for student parents.

The Prize was created by Imaginable Futures—a venture of The Omidyar Group—and Lumina Foundation, along with a group of leading partner organizations, to leverage direct investments in innovative solutions supporting student parents.

We believe that postsecondary success for parents is crucial in improving educational outcomes for entire families and supporting the journeys of millions of families to economic mobility. We are also now facing unprecedented uncertainty as we adjust to new realities as a result of COVID-19. Student parents are among the most impacted by the global pandemic, facing childcare disruptions, and unpredictability at school and with work.

Postsecondary success is defined as traditional degrees and non-traditional credential, certificate, workforce development, and alternative college pathways programs, that leads to economic mobility and overall well-being.

If your company, program, or organization is working to support and empower student parents, or you want to learn how your solution can be tailored to accelerate the postsecondary success of student parents, apply for the Rise Prize by May 17!

By applying for the Rise Prize you could:

  • Raise awareness of your solution and get exposure to funders and potential partners
  • Strengthen your idea with support from mentors and build community with fellow innovators; and as a finalist, be paired with an advisor to sharpen your product pitch
  • Win $50,000 as an early stage applicant, $100,000 as a Risers’ Choice awardee, or $200,000 as a mature stage applicant

Who Should Apply?

The Prize is open to impact-driven changemakers: companies, programs, and organizations of any type or stage in the US working on solutions directly supporting student parent postsecondary success. This includes changemakers who are seeking to add additional products or solutions to accelerate the success of student parents.

Applicant Type

We welcome applicants working on innovative solutions to directly impact postsecondary success for student parents at scale, including:

  • Non-profit organizations
  • For-profit companies, including edtech solutions
  • Higher education institutions, including departments or teams within higher education institutions; academic institution associations; or alternative career pathways programs, including workforce programs, credentialing programs, and bootcamps

Equity and inclusion is a central theme of the Rise Prize. We strive to ensure that applicants of varying sizes, sectors, and backgrounds have an equal chance of success.

Solution Type

The Rise Prize is designed to increase the number of innovative solutions driving postsecondary success for student parents. There will be three types of awards made through a single application process:

Early Stage

Early Stage

New ideas and solutions anchored in initial customer validation (user testing or pilots, market research, or a plan for customer validation).

This could include:

  • Pre-seed and seed startups that have developed a plan for customer validation and research
  • Established organizations exploring new ideas and solutions for student parents
  • Academic institutions and social ventures at testing or pilot phases

8 winners from the early stage category will be awarded $50,000 each.

Mature Stage

Mature Stage

Defined by solutions provided by organizations that have strong conviction about the business or organization’s ability to serve student parents and are looking to take that work to scale. For venture-backed startups, this means Series A and beyond.

These solutions should have:

  • Demonstrated product/market fit and strength of the market
  • Measured impact on customers or end users

5 winners from the mature stage category will be awarded $200,000 each.

Riser Choice Award

“Risers’ Choice Prize”

Awarded to one winner in either the Early Stage or Mature Stage for $100,000 by our student parent judges.

Application Timeline

application timeline
application timeline

What We’re Looking For

Solutions that will have a direct impact on the postsecondary success of student parents—whether your solution is focused on these outcomes or others, we want to hear from you. Those solutions could include: flexible courseware, original outcomes-based financing solutions, innovative childcare support models, community building or completion coaching—any type of solution designed to accelerate student parent success.


Student parents do meaningfully better when there is access to quality, affordable childcare solutions.


Student parents benefit from support services/mentoring, well-being, and access to social capital.


Student parents need solutions that are competency-based and allow for completion faster or in more incremental ways.


Student parents need solutions that are flexible and adapted to their “shredded time” schedule. This includes using virtual and online courses to enhance the learning environment, as well as a combination of virtual and in-person coaching to assist with persistence.


Student parents require solutions that are affordable given other budget constraints with children.


Student parents need access to economic mobility through a credential and increased connection to their job/career. This includes programs that offer competency-based education focused on the skills and competencies that employers want and need.

Judging Criteria

Prize submissions will be judged on four important components for success. These components are:

  • Depth:
  • The solution has the potential to impact postsecondary success for student parents reached. Depth will be measured by the actual or expected change in outcomes for student parents impacted by the solution.
    • Ability to increase postsecondary completion for student parents
    • Ability to increase economic mobility for student parents
    • Ability to positively impact well-being for student parents
  • Reach:
  • The solution has the potential to scale and reach many student parents. Reach will be measured by the applicant’s intent and ability to scale their solution.
  • Influence:
  • The solution has the potential to influence others—for example policymakers, community leaders, and other innovators—towards greater impact for student parents. Measured by the innovativeness and differentiation of the solution, and the likelihood of replication in new geographies and markets.
  • Feasibility:
  • The applicant team is likely to be successful in achieving their goals. Measured by the organization's business model and/or fundraising approach and the team's demonstrated track record.