Big Change launched the Big Education Challenge in November 2022, inviting applications from everyone with a bold idea to transform education and learning in the UK.
Overwhelmingly, we had responses from those closest to the problems within education, and it inspired new, many young, innovators to develop their early stage ideas for the first time.
The 15 finalists demonstrated exceptional insight and commitment to transforming education in very different ways, and after a six-month learning journey with the Young Foundation that included peer learning and coaching, their ideas are ready for the next stage. It was incredibly hard to decide which projects to award further funding to, and we are so grateful to the many judges who gave their time and expertise so generously. We are also thankful to the donors and philanthropists who, like us, are committed to transforming education and who made this £1m Big Education Challenge prize fund possible.
Collectively, the winners are addressing issues that matter to many thousands of young people in classrooms across the country; food insecurity; special educational needs and disability; and climate anxiety. The projects are still in the early stages of development and as winners of the Big Education Challenge, we are thrilled to provide them with further funding and support to pilot their ideas over the next two years.
The joint-winners of the Gamechanger Prize for experienced social entrepreneurs are:
- CanTeam, led by Jonathan Harper, CEO Future Foundations, transforms school canteens into vibrant community hubs, by equipping schools to offer nutritious and delicious food after school. Co-designed and delivered with young people, their families, and the local community, they are creating a sustainable solution to food insecurity, encouraging healthy eating, and enabling young people to learn and thrive.
- Force of Nature, led by Clover Hogan, addresses students’ climate anxiety by providing training pathways to help young people prepare for their roles in a green economy, building their confidence, developing their skills, and helping them find the climate solutions they wish to lead.
The winner of the Groundbreaker Prize for 18–25-year-olds:
- Paige Connect, led by Sergio Gosalvez, supports young blind and partially-sighted people to connect with learning and working independently or alongside others. By using technology to upgrade existing braille writers, Paige Connect enables better communication and collaboration with sighted teachers, family and friends.
We also awarded funding to three inspiring runners-up who will receive funding to take their ideas to the next stage of development
- The Firefly Project, led by Jenna Maudlin, supports schools to help young people understand and deal with loss and trauma, developing their social and emotional skills through design-based workshops and resources.
- Studio Self-Made, led by Emma Redfern, is a creative online education platform that offers digital internships for young people who might struggle to access creative careers. These young people enhance their creative portfolios with practical work experience through a network of small businesses.
- Potential, led by Farhad Gohar, provides mentorship and support to young people at risk of joining gangs or of exclusion from school, helping them to develop entrepreneurship skills and create legitimate enterprises.
More than ever, we need to reimagine education so that all young people are set up to thrive in life and not just exams. Supporting these brilliant ideas and people gives us great hope. We are incredibly proud to be part of their journey to show that change is possible, and we can’t wait to see the impact their work will have on this and future generations.
Stay tuned to hear about how we will apply learnings from the first Big Education Challenge to develop a longer-term fund. You will also be able to hear more from the finalists who didn’t win, as they will be joining our Big Change community of over 60 funded projects and leaders.