About the prize

How many laureates do you choose each year?

Each year we award two prizes: one for education research, and one for education development. They can go to either an individual or a team of up to three people.

When we award a team, each member receives a certificate and a gold medal, while the cash prize and project funding are shared equally among them.

What will Yidan Prize laureates receive?

We award our laureates a certificate, gold medal, cash prize of HK$15 million (shared equally for teams), and a project funding of HK$15 million to help them scale up their work over three years.

When are the Yidan Prize laureates announced?

We announce our laureates annually in September. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear prize updates as they happen.

When is the Awards Presentation Ceremony?

It usually takes place in December every year, along with our annual summit. That’s a short conference where our laureates can take the stage and introduce the education community to their work and plans.

When is the nomination deadline?

We usually open nominations in October and close them at the end of March the following year. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated.

How many nominations did you receive last year, and can you share details about them?

Nominations are strictly confidential so we do not publish specific numbers or detailed information about particular nominations.

When we announce each year’s laureates, we’ll share information about trends: the range of countries and regions nominations come from and cover and general themes—like female education or teacher training.

If you’re interested in news and views from the foundation and our wider community, subscribe to our newsletter.

Aside from the prizes, does the Yidan Prize Foundation offer any grants?

No, we’re not a grant giving organization and are not in the position to offer any grants.

Making a nomination

Who can make a nomination?

Our process is open to everyone. You don’t need to be invited to nominate a team or individual for either the Education Research or Education Development prize. You can even nominate yourself.

What we’re looking for are ‘credible witnesses’ to the nominees’ impact—so you need to have a thorough understanding of the work. Most of our nominators are members of government bodies, non-governmental organizations or professional associations. Or they’re professional educators, respected figures in the sector, or work in the same organization or sphere as the nominee(s). But you don’t have to tick one of those boxes: we welcome nominations from all.

You can’t make a nomination if:

  • you’d like to recognize your immediate family members
  • you’re a member of our current Board of Directors, Advisory Committee, Judging Committee, or Secretariat
Can the nominator be an employee in the organization where the nominee(s) work?

Yes, as long as they are not in the nominee’s (or nominees’) immediate family.

We also exclude our foundation’s current Board Directors, Judging Committee members, and Advisory Committee members from being a nominee or making or supporting nominations.

Can the same nominee be part of more than one nomination?

Yes—they can be nominated more than once in the same category, or they can be nominated in both categories if their work spans research and development.

Having more than one nomination in one category doesn’t increase their chances. If you know others who are also interested in nominating the same person or team, consider choosing one nominator between you, and asking everyone else to be a supporter. It’ll probably make a stronger nomination overall.

Can you submit more than one nomination?

Yes, you may submit as many nominations as you’d like to.

Will I get status updates regarding my submission?

You’ll get confirmation that we’ve got it, but we don’t give status updates during the judging process. You’ll hear from us again when we announce our laureates—usually in September. We’ll email all nominees, nominators, and supporters.

Of course, if our Judging Committee chooses your nominee(s) as a laureate, we’ll get in touch with them directly before the announcement.

Nominating yourself

Can I nominate myself or my team?

Yes, though you’ll need at least three recommendation letters from supporters (one more than if someone else nominates you).

Nominating a team

Can members of a nominated team work in different organizations?

Yes. We value collaboration and welcome nominations for different kinds of teams.

A team could be made up of:

  • colleagues working together in the same organization
  • researchers working on a project together
  • representatives from different organizations working collaboratively on an idea or project
What if there are more than three people in the team?

In that case, the team should choose three representatives that have played critical roles and made unique contributions to the team’s achievements.

Choosing the right nominee

If the potential nominee’s project is still in early stages, should I nominate them?

Yes, we welcome nominations for young researchers and practitioners, as long as their work meets our judging criteria. The Yidan Prize is really for transformative and innovative ideas that have brought or have the potential to bring great impact to the systems and the community as a whole.

Can I nominate individuals or teams working in for-profit organizations?

As long as you can demonstrate the social impact of their work, yes.

As well as the judging criteria, our independent Judging Committee look at the nominee or nominees’ future project plans—that’s why we ask for a two-minute video. As part of that, we recommend that the nominee(s) talk about how they could potentially use the Yidan Prize for wider social impact—and we only put our funding towards non-profit activities.

Is it worth nominating a person or team from a smaller organization? Do education research nominees need affiliation with a university or higher education institution?

Future-oriented, innovative, transformative, and sustainable education initiatives exist in grassroots or small organizations too. The Judging Committee will look at how the work is and could be transforming lives, rather than the size of the organization.

Education research nominees don’t need affiliation to a large organization or university—and we encourage you to nominate young researchers.

Can I nominate a person or team for an organization’s work if they’re not in a leadership role?

You don’t have to nominate the leader of the organization, but the person or team you’re nominating should lead the work they’re being nominated for.

The organization lead must also endorse the nomination. They can do that by being the nominee, or the nominator or a supporter. If we can’t be sure the nominee(s) have led the work they’re being nominated for, our judges won’t consider the nomination.

What should I do if my nominee’s (or nominees’) work falls between research and development?

Where any individual or team’s work clearly covers both research and development, we welcome two submissions: one for research and one for development. The prizes have separate judging panels (while they make final decisions on both awards collectively). So there’s no particular advantage in submitting nominations for both—but we know some work is more powerful for not fitting neatly into one or the other.

In fact, we deliberately chose two prizes that work in harmony: to build a network of educational experts who’re as strong in research as they are in practical application, in classrooms across the world. For example, we awarded our first Education Research Prize to Professor Carol Dweck: her pioneering work in growth mindset underpins and inspires practice. And as our 2020 Education Development laureates at CAMFED (the Campaign for Female Education) work with marginalized girls in sub-Saharan Africa, they partner with research institutes to track what’s most effective, who’s benefiting, and the costs.

As a reminder, here’s how we define the different areas:

  • Education Research
    The theory of learning—science, psychology, statistics—that can help educators understand different approaches with a methodical lens.
  • Education Development
    Policy and practice in learning—new methods and ways to make education more widespread—so we can champion techniques that work.
Is it possible to nominate someone for a posthumous Yidan Prize?

No, we do not accept posthumous nominations.

Judging criteria

Does this year’s prize have a particular focus—like a theme or region?

No, we don’t set a specific theme, and the prize is completely global—covering any region and every level of education. We only ask that the nominations are for education research or education development.

How much does the global reach of the nominee's work matter? If future plans suggest broad geographical impact (rather than local or regional), does that make the nominee(s) more likely to get a prize?

As part of ‘future-oriented’ and ‘sustainable’, our judges do look for evidence that a project can be scaled, replicated, or adapted for greater global impact. Still, sometimes a project with deep impact in one region is more powerful than one with a lighter impact in multiple regions.

Encourage your nominee(s) to use their two-minute video submission to talk about their future plans. Our judges also want to know how the project funding, foundation network, and our Council of Luminaries could help them spread and scale up their work.

Does the Judging Committee interview nominees directly?

No—the two-minute video is the nominee’s moment to speak straight to the judges. They should use it to talk through their plan for the HK $15 million project funding. It’s also an opportunity to show their passion and commitment.

What to submit

Do nominators need to submit a separate letter of recommendation?

No—the nomination form itself is a letter of recommendation from the nominator.

Can I edit my nomination after submitting it?

Apart from nominee’s personal details, you can keep editing and re-submitting your nomination right up to the closing date: Visit our nominations page to find out the closing date for the current prize year.

Every time you submit a new edit, we’ll delete the old version. So before you make a change, we recommend downloading a PDF of your current submission, so you can keep records and compare notes. Whenever you edit and submit, we’ll send you and any newly added supporters an email confirmation.

What is a business card?

A card issued by your organization with your full name, your organization name, your position and title, and your contact details.

What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

A CV is a summary of an individual’s education and work experience. Nominees typically include a list of certificates & awards they’ve received and a select record of their publications.

How much additional material do you welcome? What other supporting documents can I submit? Can supporting documentation include videos?

The only conditions we set are that:

  • everything is relevant to the nominee’s (or nominees’) work
  • taken all together, the supporting materials are no bigger than 40MB. (That doesn’t include the two-minute nominee video, which can be up to 200MB on its own.)

You can upload or link to articles, publications, extra letters of support, pictures, videos, or other evidence that strengthens your nomination. We recommend uploading documents, but we know you might sometimes prefer to avoid large file sizes by sending links. In that case:

  • put all the links in a single document (which also explains the context)
  • make sure the links won’t expire during the judging process.

For education development, we strongly encourage you to include any independent evaluation reports of the nominee or nominees’ work.

What if my documents aren’t in English?

Judges can only review documents that are in English—so you should include a translation or add English subtitles to video content.

Why do you ask for a two-minute video? What makes a good video submission?

We award our laureates HK$15 million (around US$1.9 million) in project funding over three years. Since we don’t have an interview round, this is your nominee’s (or nominees’) best chance to tell the judges in two minutes—and in their own words—what they’d spend it on.

 

What are judges looking for?

They’re looking for evidence of commitment, and a thoughtful plan for how to get the greatest impact from the project funding. While we don’t need a detailed budget breakdown, it’s helpful to understand how the nominee(s) plan to bring their vision into reality. That should include:

  • project stages
  • key milestones
  • the final outcome(s) and what impact they hope to achieve.

If it’s a team, we’d like to see all members speaking directly to the camera to explain their unique individual roles, as well as how they’ll collaborate.

We know many nominees will already have field photos and videos related to their work. We’d encourage them to submit these through the supporting documents section (part 4 section 2) and reserve the two-minute video to speak directly to the camera—and to the judges.

Our judges won’t consider appearances (like age, race, or gender) when looking at the nomination.

 

What are the technical requirements?

The video must be in one of these file formats: .MP4, .MOV, .AVI or .M4V. We recommend you make it 1920 x 1080 in size, and at 1080p quality. We accept file sizes up to 200MB.

Don’t worry about the production quality. The judges are interested in the video’s content, not style.

 

What if I don’t speak English?

The nominee is welcome to record the video in their native languagein fact, sometimes that can make it easier to show passion. We just ask you to add English subtitles or a transcript, too.

 

Is there anything else I need to know?

  • We won’t cut short your video if it’s over two minutes, but it’s up to our judges whether they continue watching it after the two-minute mark—so try to keep it to time or put the most important information first.
  • We only use this video for judging. We won’t circulate it or publish it without the nominee’s permission.
  • Nominators can’t make this video on behalf of the nominee(s)—you can do so only if you’re self-nominating.
  • If any nominees have difficulty making a verbal presentation, please contact the Secretariat at [email protected].
What should the video look like for teams?

The judges would like to hear from all team members, speaking directly to the camera and explaining their project plan, their unique individual roles, as well as how they’ll collaborate.

If team members are in different locations and video editing is not a viable option, you can consider using a video conferencing platform to record the video.

What are peer reviewed research articles?

These are articles that have been reviewed by other experts in the field before publication. This review process is typically anonymous, and the article must meet the reviewer’s standard to be accepted for publication.

Editorials, book reviews, and other information in a journal don’t count as peer-reviewed work.

Re-submitting a nomination

Can I re-submit an unsuccessful nomination in the next year?

Yes—we save all submissions on our platform. When nominations open for the following year’s entry, you can log back in to edit and submit again.

If you would like us to delete your nomination from our database, please contact us at [email protected].

Do you offer any feedback for those who are unsuccessful?

We’re afraid not. Our judges work independently and review many nominations every year. To protect the independence of the judging process, the Secretariat can’t seek feedback on specific nominations.

Is it a disadvantage if I re-submit a previous year’s nomination without changing it?

No, as long as it’s all up to date. But of course, you can add new evidence or supporter letters.

You can also use the same supporter letters as before if they’re willing to support your nominee(s) again. We’ll send them a confirmation and might get in touch for more information, so you should always check with them.

Can I use the same recommendation letters?

Yes, if they’re willing to support your nominee(s) again. Make sure their contact details are up to date. We send all supporters a confirmation email when you submit your nomination, and might contact them directly and separately as well for more information.

If I am re-submitting, but for a different area of our work, should I submit a new nomination or edit the existing nomination?

You can do either, or both. If the judges see more than one nomination for the same nominee(s) in the same category, they’ll put them together and review them as one nomination.

So there’s no advantage or disadvantage to submitting more than one—it’s up to you to decide if you want to nominate in both areas of work or just one.

One important note: since 2020, we’ve saved all nominations on our system so that you can easily re-submit in future years. But we don’t re-submit them automatically; you’ll need to check the details, confirm the supporters are still happy to go ahead, and submit again.

Supporters

Who should be a supporter?

Supporters are individuals who know the nominee or nominees’ work well and can speak from their own experience about how it makes an impact.

In this section, the judges are looking for external endorsement on the nominee or nominees’ work. You can include at most one supporter from the nominee or nominees’ organization.

All nominations can have up to five supporters. For self-nominations you need at least three, or if you’re nominating someone else you need at least two.

You can’t be a supporter if:

  • you’re the nominee/ one of the nominees
  • you work in the same organization as the nominees
  • you’re immediate family to any of the nominees
  • you’re the nominator
  • you’d like to sign-off as a group instead of an individual (click here to see what to do instead)
  • you’re a current member of our Board of Directors, Advisory Committee, or Judging Committee

If you have more than one supporter from within the organization, please upload them in the next section of the form (part 4 question 2). If you have more than five supporters, you can also include them in the next section, though we won’t count any of them as your official supporters.

When you submit your nomination, we ask you to confirm that all supporters have given you permission to share their letter and contact details with us. We’ll email them to let them know you’ve submitted a nomination, and might get in touch again if we need more information.

For team nominations, can the recommendation letter mention only one of the nominees?

For team nominations, it’s especially important that you tell us how their work together makes a difference. So while the supporter can certainly call out specific individual achievements and contributions, the letter as a whole should describe the team’s collective impact.

If you do have a recommendation letter for one of a team of nominees, you can include it in the “Supporting documents” section (part 4 section 2) of the nomination form.

What should the supporter write about in their recommendation letters? Is there a word limit?

We set a limit of 5,000 words (most letters are two pages in length), which the supporter should use to clearly explain why they’re recommending the nominee(s). You should address the letter to the Judging Committee, Yidan Prize.

They can write about:

  • their perspective on the nominee or nominees’ work
  • the impact of the work that they’ve observed
  • what potential they foresee in the work
  • how they came to know the nominee(s) and their work
Can a recommendation letter come from a group of people, instead of an individual?

When you submit a supporter letter, you need to add contact details for one person. So with group letters, you have two options:

  • you can submit a letter signed on behalf of a group by a single representative, OR
  • you can add a letter signed by the whole group to the “Supporting documents” section (part 4 section 2) of the nomination.

If you choose the second option, you should know it doesn’t count as an official supporter letter.

Can a supporter write recommendation letters for more than one nomination?

Yes, please write recommendation letters for as many nominations as you wish.

Project funding

Is project funding restricted in any way?

Laureate funding is flexible: it’s up to them whether they use it to expand their current work, replicate it somewhere else, or launch a new project. We only put our funding towards non-profit activities.

We see this as a long term, close relationship. So we’ll ask laureates to share written reports, photos, and videos regularly, and help them track their progress and impact.

When are the cash prize and project funding payments distributed?

We arrange the cash prizes in time for the award presentation ceremony, which we usually hold in December.

We distribute the HK$15 million (about US$1.9million) project funding over three years, agreeing the project and the payment schedule directly with the laureates.

You can find out more about making a Yidan Prize nomination and download our nomination guide and checklist here. If you have any other questions about nominations, please get in touch at [email protected].