It’s Back: THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: AN EDUCATION INNOVATION CONTEST™ To Award Up To $500,000 Total For Transformative Education Ideas in Nevada

Andre Agassi, Jewel, Mike Rowe return as judges following the contest’s first year, which awarded prize money to three winners statewide

LAS VEGAS (April 17, 2023) – THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest, a statewide contest like never before, garnered more than 200 applications in its first year (2022). And, now, applications are officially being accepted for year two.

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 the competition – 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 is spearheaded by Nevada-based nonprofits The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education (AAFE) and the Engelstad Foundation.

“We were completely wowed by the ideas and excitement for this contest that came in throughout the state last year,” said Kris Engelstad, trustee of the Engelstad Foundation. “So, we’re providing the same platform, yet again, for Nevadans’ voice to be heard and to make a meaningful impact.”

“Central to our foundation is the mantra, ‘With Education. There is Hope.’ which drives our everyday efforts,” adds Julie Pippenger, chief operating officer of AAFE. “We were given so much hope by some amazing individuals and entities that partook in our contest last year and we can’t wait to see what rolls in here for 2023.”

Winners of the 2022 contest included 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. Additionally, Las Vegas-based retired teacher Eleanor Cormier and Henderson resident Dorothy Blake received $50,000 and $25,000 ideas for their ideas, respectively.

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. Applications may be submitted by thoughtful individuals, nonprofits and entities based in Nevada.

To enter the contest, initial applications – encompassing a brief pitch of the idea and short video – must be received by June 9, 2023. Judges will select semifinalist candidates to progress to round two, where they will present in-person to judges. These judges 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.  

From there, contest finalists will be identified, and their materials will be reviewed by an esteemed panel of judges. These high-profile judges for the final round – and who will determine the contest’s winners – include tennis legend Andre Agassi, 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 For updates on THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE, visit its social pages on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.