I first heard about Rise during my sophomore year of high school. While scrolling through Instagram, I found a video about a program that provided opportunities for promising young people committed to serving others. This piqued my interest. The application itself was fairly straightforward—all it required was that I record videos talking about my passions and recent projects. I was also able to check out hundreds of inspiring projects from other applicants on the platform.  

2022 Rise Global Winner, Rishi Ambavanekar

My project was a brain-computer interface headset that helped patients with aphasia (a language disorder after a stroke) communicate through the translation of brainwaves. I always likened it to a mind reading machine. I chose to explain this project for the Rise application, and I also spoke about my love for entrepreneurship and mental health. To apply, you just have to speak about anything you’re passionate about. 

After a couple of months, I forgot I had applied. Then I received a call that would change my life.  

“Hi Rishi, my name is Korede, and I’m part of the Rise team. We are hosting a media event in New York City, and since you’re a Rise finalist, we would love to invite you to attend.”   

I soon found myself in NYC with four other finalists speaking about my Rise project on Good Morning America. We toured the city for a week, bonded, and made lifelong friendships. I still speak to these friends several times a week. Safe to say, my first experience with Rise was fantastic. But it didn’t stop there.  

After I was selected as a Rise Global Winner (RGW), Rise provided me with training in entrepreneurial skills thanks to a six-week class. As an aspiring entrepreneur, it was great to learn how to build a pitch deck, do market research, cold call clients, and raise funding.  

One of the key parts of the Rise scholarship is the Rise Residential Summit (RRS), a fully funded convening for Rise recipients in July. Before this year’s summit, which was held in London and Oxford in the UK, I had never met anyone from Ukraine, Italy, Burkina Faso, Australia, and so many other amazing countries. The mesh of cultures allowed us to learn so much from each other. I was taught everything from Spanish salsa dancing to Brazilian card games and Indian classical singing. We also heard from dozens of guest speakers, including Rhodes Scholars, CEOs, and scientists. The whole trip was an amazing bonding experience. From rowing on the river to Harry Potter tours to talent shows, there were so many fantastic adventures. The 100 students who attended the summit are the people I will build startups with, go to college with, and build lifelong friendships with. Rise does not just provide benefits, it offers an entire community of like-minded friends.   

Even after the summit, I have so much to look forward to. Rise provides the opportunity to fund ideas on a competitive basis, which is something I’m pursuing. The organization also offers college advising, a service I use as well.  

Because Rise supports a  global community, my peers and I will continue to meet amazing new people, access fantastic resources, and go on incredible adventures. I for one can’t wait to see where the program takes us. 

How are you using your talents to build a better world and how might you benefit from a program like this? Let us know what you #RiseTo in the comments!   

About Rise: 

Rise is a program that finds promising young people and provides them with opportunities that allow them to work together to serve others over their lifetimes. The program seeks young people ages 15 to 17 and encourages a lifetime of service and learning by providing support that may include need-based scholarships, mentorship, networking, access to career development opportunities, and the potential for additional funding as Rise Global Winners work toward solving humanity’s most pressing problems. 

About the Author

Rishi Ambavanekar is a 2022 Rise Global Winner and co-founder of Geri, an AI app for senior citizens.