With up to $500,000 in Funds at Stake in Nevada, Nine Semifinalists Selected for Next Round of THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest


With up to $500,000 in Funds at Stake in Nevada, Nine Semifinalists Selected for Next Round of THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: An Education Innovation Contest

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

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 For updates on THE BIG IDEA CHALLENGE, visit its social pages on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.