Education Innovation Awards

A community engagement day held by Innovation winner Ubongo.
Every child has the right to A safe place to learn,
We work to help young people develop Skills for the future

About the project


Local organisations who provide access to education for the millions of isolated young people around the world often lack the capacity or support to grow innovative ideas. Theirworld helps organisations on the ground expand their offerings so that more disadvantaged learners get the opportunities they deserve


Theirworld’s Education Innovation Awards offers non-profits, NGOs and charities the chance to secure scale-up grants and resources to help their work in reaching overlooked youth and children.

A boy uses LAL's Tabshoura platform in class

In 2021 more than 700 expressions of interest led to over 150 applications. From 11 finalists, five winning organisations were awarded £50,000 each alongside ongoing one-to-one mentoring and masterclasses to help deliver the impact of their work to more youth.

Innovation, investment and inspiration

Theirworld’s work in countries with marginalised learners inspired the creation of the Education Innovation Awards. The awards were created to help organisations working to deliver better educational opportunities to young people in countries where Theirworld operates.

Innovative educational ideas at a local level can suffer from a lack of resources that means they can be difficult to get off the ground or grow sufficiently. The awards were designed to enable creative, forward-looking organisations scale innovative ideas so that more young people can benefit.

In 2021, from 11 finalists doing inspiring work to tackle the global education crisis, five were selected to receive the prize of £50,000 growth grants, masterclasses and one-to-one mentoring.

The winners, selected in October 2021, were:




Meet the 2021 winners

Five organisations received £50,000 grants alongside one-to-one mentoring and masterclasses to help them scale their innovative ideas.

Theirworld continues to work with the winners as they take on the challenge to unlock big change for young learners.

Ambitious growth goals

Selecting 2021’s winners was no easy task, but the expert panel decided these five organisations showed the originality, innovation and ambition that reflect the vision of the awards.

The winners’ £50,000 grants will go towards scale-up costs, research and resources needed to move pilot projects forwards. Masterclasses and mentoring provide the skills and guidance they’ll need to make connections, build infrastructure and grow their ideas as they push towards their goals.

Theirworld awarded the remaining six finalists Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Fellowships. MEL Fellowships provide masterclasses and mentoring aimed at helping organisations gather and interpret the data they’ll need to provide evidence of the viability of their ideas.

We’re delighted to be working with these talented organisations as they forge paths towards new, innovative ways of delivering education to the overlooked children who need it.

Innovation is key to solving the global education crisis. If all five award-winners reach their scale goals, Theirworld will have helped them reach six million learners by the end of 2024. It’s the kind of ambitious goal we need if we want to unlock big change and end the global learning crisis.


2021 Finalists

Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative

Winner: Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative

Helping out-of-school refugee children in Nigeria develop basic reading and mathematics skills through Fast Track, a digital learning tool.

Winner: Children on the Edge UK

Winner: Children on the Edge UK

Providing community-owned early childhood development for Congolese refugees in Uganda.

Lebanese Alternative Learning logo

Winner: Lebanese Alternative Learning

Helping teachers in Lebanon provide high-quality remote learning in underserved communities.

NABU Global, Inc.

Winner: NABU Global, Inc.

Working to increase literacy by tackling the lack of access to books through a low-bandwidth digital reading app.

Ubongu International

Winner: Ubongo International

Producing and delivering localised and fun learning content across more than 40 countries.

Action for Education 

Finalist: Action for Education 

Providing access to psychosocial support and education opportunities for young refugees in Greece

Breteau foundation logo

Finalist: Breteau

Offering digital education to disadvantaged local and refugee children in Lebanon.


Finalist: Hatua

Improving the career outcomes of marginalised youth in Kenya, through mentoring focused on soft skills needed in the workplace.


Finalist: Kidogo

Improving access to quality, affordable early childhood care and education in low-income communities in Kenya.

street child

Finalist: Street-child and YARID 

Helping refugee children from the Democratic Republic of Congo develop English language skills to help them integrate into formal education in Uganda.

stir education logo

Finalist: STiR Education 

Supporting education systems in Uganda to help teachers and officials be role models for the foundations of lifelong learning for every child.

2021 Judges

The judges of Theirworld’s Education Innovation Awards 2021 brought with them a wealth of knowledge on education, innovation and scale-readiness, business and finance, diversity and inclusion, technical insights, and storytelling and people.

Andrew Jack

Global Education Editor, Financial Times

Alex van der Ploeg

Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, SAP

Ben Hewitt

Trustee, Theirworld

Constance Agyeman

Director, International Development, Nesta Challenges

Dan Wakeford

Editor-in-Chief, People Magazine

Erin Ganju

Managing Director, Echidna Giving

Justin van Fleet

President, Theirworld

Kelly T. Clements

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees

Mary Contini

Cafe Owner and Author, Valvona & Crolla

Maysa Jalbout

Visiting Scholar and Special Advisor on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tariq Fancy

Founder & CEO, Rumie

Sarah Brown

Chair, Theirworld

Yomi Adegoke

Journalist, Producer & Author of ‘Slay In Your Lane’

Help us deliver education to vulnerable young people and end the global learning crisis.