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Rise, NBA Africa Launch “Rise Challenge” Leadership Program

As part of the global initiative, 100 winners from Africa and around the world will be selected to receive career mentorship and educational support.

NBA Africa and Rise have launched a campaign to encourage youth ages 15-17 from across Africa and around the world to apply for the Rise Challenge.

Rise focuses on identifying young people and providing them with opportunities, resources, and support. The program is part of a $1 billion commitment from Eric and Wendy Schmidt, and is a global initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust.

 Eric served as Google’s CEO from 2001 to 2011. As part of the Rise Challenge, Rise will select 100 global winners from thousands of applications around the world to participate in the selected 2022 class. Each of the winners will receive mentorship, career services, leadership development programming, and higher education scholarships.

Applicants who apply through the NBA Africa’s campaign will be invited to a virtual session featuring a current NBA player or retired legend. Those who become finalists in the campaign will receive NBA merchandise, as well as the opportunity to participate in NBA programming.

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“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 in a statement. “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 group of 100 Rise Global Winners was selected from tens of thousands of applicants. They come from 42 different countries, speak 20 languages, and include 25 people from Africa. The process to be selected includes videos, projects, and group interviews to give applicants multiple opportunities to showcase their talent. 

The process to be selected happens in three stages:

  • Applicants introduce themselves through videos, create an individual project and peer review other applicants
  • 500 finalists will be selected and subsequently narrowed down to a final group of 100 winners
  • Though not all applicants will be accepted, they’ll join a global community that has access to custom educational courses, funding, opportunities from partners around the world.

“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 in an official release.  “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.”

The NBA opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010.  Since then, the league’s efforts on the continent 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.

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