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All the latest on education in Nevada and how
THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE is changing lives.

‘Passion project’: CCSD teacher wins $200K in education contest

Sunrise Mountain High School teacher Ben Nguyen came up with an idea five years ago — building a web portal to feature local jobs in an understandable way for students.

Now, he has $200,000 to pursue what he calls his “passion project.”

Nguyen is among three winners of “THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest” announced Monday by the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and the Engelstad Foundation.

Read the full story on all three winners of THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE at reviewjournal.com.

Three Winners Announced for First-Ever THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest™

After 200-plus entries received throughout Nevada and multiple rounds of judging, $275,000 in total funding awarded to education innovators

LAS VEGAS (DECEMBER 19, 2022) – Organizers of a Nevada contest like never before, THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest™, announced today that three winners have been selected.

The contest – centered on the simple question of “Who out there has an idea that can help take Nevada’s educational landscape to the next level?” – was spearheaded by Nevada-based nonprofits The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and The Engelstad Foundation.

“This was an incredible experiment, giving anyone and everyone an opportunity to step up to the plate to make things better,” said Kris Engelstad, trustee of the Engelstad Foundation. “And, indeed, so many Nevadans did just that. Our winners embarked on quite a journey to win and achieve funding. We can’t wait to see all they do to take their ideas – and education in our state – to new heights.”

“This is only the beginning of such a promising path for our winners,” added Julie Pippenger, Chief Operating Officer of The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. “We’ll certainly be cheering them on and will be here for them. But, in the meantime, it has been wonderful to see their ideas evolve and strengthen through this contest.”

 Winners of THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE include:

Ben Nguyen

Ben Nguyen, a teacher in the Clark County School District, who received $200,000 in funding for his “A Platform for the Future” concept. The concept includes building a platform for localized job shadowing, training, and mentorship to better guide and inspire Nevadans toward real and sustainable possibilities in their immediate communities. Within the first year of launch, Nguyen’s goal is to have at least 1,000 users and more than 10 partnering organizations regularly contributing to the platform. On his journey in participating in THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE, Nguyen says, “particularly as an educator, it is an enormous honor and opportunity to be recognized for this project. So much of what we do is geared toward strengthening young people and our community and this will help me do just that.”

Eleanor Cormier

Las Vegas-based retired teacher Eleanor Cormier and her Project 300 Early Learning Academy model, an online virtual tutoring program for kindergarteners in urban elementary schools of Clark County to strengthen their literacy skills utilizing common core state standards in English language arts. As a result of the contest, she received $50,000 toward her idea, which will help her serve 100 students by the end of 2023. Reflecting on the contest she says, “this will help bring the joy of reading and joy of literacy to so many children.”

Mindful Music Moments

Mindful Music Moments (MMM), driven in Nevada by Henderson resident Dorothy Blake. With $25,000 in funding from THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE, the program will be able to launch a pilot program in the state in 2023 and deepen conversations to expand its future scope. At its core, MMM is a combination of mindful, creative prompts and world-class music, providing students, teachers and administrators a daily moment for to ‘center and ground’ through music before learning begins. On the program’s expansion in Nevada, Stacy Sims, founder and director of MMM from The Well, says “we are a small and mighty team, and we are so eager to begin creating stronger partnerships in Nevada.”

THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE application period opened in January 2022 and ran through March, resulting in more than 200 completed applications. Judges throughout various phases of the contest included business leaders, philanthropists, stewards of education, sports figures, and musicians – all collectively active in enriching education through direct work with Nevada’s school systems in K-12 and higher education. Judges participating in the final round of judging included multi-platinum singer-songwriter Jewel, tennis legend Andre Agassi as well as television host and CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Mike Rowe.

The Big Idea Challenge Logo

Nine Semifinalists Selected for Next Round of THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE

More than 200 entries received and winner(s) to be announced this December

LAS VEGAS (JUNE 8, 2022) – Organizers of a Nevada contest like never before – THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest™ – announced today that nine entries have been selected to move on to the next round. The contest is spearheaded by Nevada-based nonprofits The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and The Engelstad Foundation.

As part of the semifinalist round, contestants have been asked to create a short video that further introduces themselves and how they plan to bring their concepts to life. Additionally, this fall they will present their concept and participate in a Q&A with judges.

To help them prepare for these steps, Nevada GrantLab recently conducted a lunch and learn workshop with the semifinalists. The workshop featured an interactive panel discussion with inspiring education entrepreneurs whose innovative ideas have transformed Nevada’s educational landscape.

“We’ve seen so many Nevadans step up to the plate and hit it out of the park with their big ideas,” said Kris Engelstad, trustee of The Engelstad Foundation. “The response and passion have been incredible, and our judges have had no easy task in getting us to this point. From here, the excitement will only grow as we identify our winner(s) and help put these ideas into action.”

Geographically, the nine semifinalists span from Henderson to Incline Village, with concepts including:

  • An afterschool entrepreneurial and leadership academy for students.
  • An early-childhood intervention program, boosting the skills of childcare providers.
  • An education awareness program for newborn parents, focused on getting kids to read at an early age.
  • A “musical journey” program played during the school day to promote mindfulness.
  • An online platform connecting businesses, schools, and residents to inspire and encourage job exploration.
  • A community learning center with programming focused on teaching and improving communication skills.
  • A program designed to help kindergarten students – and their parents – who are learning English as a second language.
  • The development of a community learning center where students can join clubs, work on projects, and explore/learn about the community for free.
  • A micro-school/academy model focused on personal responsibility and creative freedom.

Up to $500,000 in total funds will be available to the contest winner(s) to take their idea(s) to the next level. THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE application period opened on January 11 and ran through March 31, 2022, resulting in more than 200 completed applications from individuals, groups, and nonprofit organizations.

Judges throughout the contest include business leaders, philanthropists, stewards of education, sports figures, and musicians – all collectively active in enriching education through direct work with Nevada’s school systems in K-12 and higher education. High-profile judges participating in the final round of judging – to take place in October – include multi-platinum singer-songwriter Jewel as well as television host and CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Mike Rowe.

Full details on THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest™ may be accessed at www.bigideachallenge.org. For updates on THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE, visit its social pages on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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2 Las Vegas nonprofits launch contest seeking new ways to revamp education — KLAS-TV

There are half a million dollars up for grabs for anyone who can help improve how students learn in Nevada.

Two Las Vegas-based nonprofits are launching a contest called “The Big Idea Challenge.” The Engelstad Foundation and the Andre Agassi Foundation are coming together to financially back the initiative, which has a deadline to apply of March 31st.

See full story at 8newsnow.com.

Enter the contest now!

Las Vegas foundations launch contest seeking new ideas to improve education — The Nevada Independent

Wanted: People with creative ideas that could transform education in Nevada.

Reward: A $500,000 grant to make the idea a reality.

That’s the message from two Las Vegas-based nonprofits that are launching an incubator-type contest called “The Big Idea Challenge.” The Engelstad Foundation and the Andre Agassi Foundation are financially backing the initiative, which has an application deadline of March 31.

See full story at The Nevada Independent.

Enter the contest now!

“Desafío de las Grandes Ideas”, dotado con $500,000, pretende mejorar el sistema educativo de Nevada — El Tiempo

Dos importantes fundaciones de Nevada piden ideas transformadoras para resolver los problemas del estado en materia de educación, y están dispuestas a conceder medio millón de dólares para financiarlas.

La Andre Agassi Foundation for Education y la Engelstad Foundation darán a los ganadores de un concurso en tres fases hasta 500 mil dólares para que resuelvan una pregunta: “¿Quién tiene una idea para mejorar el panorama educativo de Nevada?”

Ver historia completa en eltiempolv.com.

Enter the contest now!

Statewide contest challenges Nevadans to strengthen education — CarsonNow.org

A statewide competition was officially launched Tuesday: The Big Idea Challenge, an Education Innovation Contest. At the center is a statewide search focused on one question: Who out there has an idea for improving Nevada’s educational landscape?

Winners — after three phases of judging — will share a pool of funds totaling up to $500,000, which will be used to take the ideas to the next level.

See full story at carsonnow.org.

Enter the contest now!

Have a ‘Big Idea’ to improve education in Nevada? — Las Vegas Review-Journal

Two major Nevada foundations are calling for transformative ideas to solve the state’s problems in education — and are willing to award half a million dollars to fund them.

The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and the Engelstad Foundation will give winners of a three-phased contest up to $500,000 to solve one question: “Who has an idea for improving Nevada’s educational landscape?”

See full story at reviewjournal.com.

Enter the contest now!

The Big Idea Challenge Logo

THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest™ is Here

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Calling All Ideas: Up to $500,000 in Funds to Strengthen Education in Nevada! THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: AN EDUCATION INNOVATION CONTEST™ is Here

Jewel and Mike Rowe, among others, confirmed as judges

LAS VEGAS (Jan. 11, 2022) – A statewide contest like never before has officially launched today: THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest™.

At its core, are big funds and a statewide search centralized on one question: Who out there has an idea for improving Nevada’s educational landscape? Winners – after three phases of judging – will share a pool of funds totaling up to $500,000, which will be used to take the ideas to the next level.

The contest was spearheaded by Nevada-based nonprofits The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and The Engelstad Foundation.

“Nevada is where I was born and where I’m proud to call home,” said Andre Agassi, founder of The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. “This is our appeal to those out there who have an idea, innovation or concept that can strengthen our education system. We need you and we can do this. Our foundation has long believed ‘With Education. There is Hope.’ So, together, and through THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE, let’s make it happen.”

Concepts for THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest™ can span simple classroom tools for kids, technology that supports teachers, a new model to boost schools’ infrastructure and everything in between.

“We’ve all seen the headlines regarding our state’s educational rankings and it’s time for positive change,” said Kris Engelstad, trustee of The Engelstad Foundation. “No idea is too big or too small and I have no doubt that some Nevadans have ideas tucked away in their back pockets that can benefit so many. We’re here to help empower those ideas and perhaps bring some of them to life.”

To enter the contest, initial applications – encompassing a brief pitch of the idea – must be received by March 31, 2022. Judges will select candidates to progress to round two, where they will be asked to create a business plan as well as a video that further introduces themselves and their idea. From there, another round of judging will ensue and select candidates will be invited to the final round for in-person presentations.

Judges throughout the contest will include business leaders, philanthropists, stewards of education, sports figures and musicians – all collectively active in enriching education through direct work with Nevada’s school systems in K-12 and higher education. High profile judges include multi-platinum singer-songwriter Jewel as well as television host and CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Mike Rowe.

Full details on THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest™, including the contest’s timeline, application, official rules and more about the judges, may be accessed at www.bigideachallenge.org. For updates on THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE, visit its social pages on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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