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Rising to the challenge

Foundation participant Iman is a Rise Global 100 winner giving her access to some incredible prizes and opportunities.

| by Nathan Thomas

As part of this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations, we’re recognising Foundation participant Iman who stood out from thousands of entries to be chosen as a Rise Challenge Global 100 winner, giving her access to a university scholarship, a residential summit and more.


Over the past three years, Manchester United Foundation has been working in partnership with Rise, the anchor programme of a $1 billion commitment from Eric Schmidt - former CEO of Google - and his wife Wendy as part of their efforts to create initiatives to find and support global talent.

The Foundation introduces the challenge to students and supports them with social action projects, which are developed with the goal of supporting or improving their communities.

One of those students was Iman, a seventeen-year-old former pupil of Manchester Academy, a Foundation partner school.

Iman immigrated from Pakistan to Manchester at a young age and experienced racial and financial discrimination. As part of her Rise entry, Iman channelled these experiences positively, creating “Academy Edge”, a youth-led initiative tackling disparities in education across England, with the primary objective of offering free tuition to underprivileged children throughout their primary and secondary education.

Her efforts stood out to judges and Iman was chosen as one of the 100 winners from thousands of global entries. This will now open a number of doors for Iman, with Rise providing her with a university scholarship, giving her the opportunity to attend a residential summit in London - where she will meet other winners from around the world - and providing her with funding to develop her Rise project, plus other plans she has to positively contribute to her community.

Iman said: “I was in disbelief when I found out that I had won, but that soon changed into joy - it was so nice to see my work recognised. Following experiences in my own life, I am passionate about bridging gaps in education to create a more inclusive environment, so to have the chance to develop this project with Rise is incredible.”

“Iman demonstrated impressive leadership,” James Eldon, Iman’s former headteacher, added. “She showed that leadership doesn’t need to be loud or showy, it can be achieved through quiet determination. Iman brought a Manchester energy to a global challenge and I’m so pleased to see her get the rewards she deserves.”

“We’re really proud of her and everything she has achieved,” Michael Brewster, the Foundation’s Rise Manager, added. “Iman spotted a barrier that existed for some people in education and has filled that in a really innovative way. At the Foundation we aim to empower our young people to make a positive contribution to their community and the Rise programme helps us do that – it’s great to see Iman get the recognition she deserves.”


Since being crowned a winner, Iman has also had the opportunity to talk about her experience with 2024 Rise applicants and to address headteachers of Foundation partner schools at separate Old Trafford events.

“I think it’s important for people to see that if you put the work in you can unlock some amazing opportunities,” Iman said. “Whether that’s people my age or teachers who can support things like Rise; it was really nice to be able to talk about my experience and hopefully inspire other people too.”

Nice work, Iman. Best of luck with your work.