About the prize

How many winners 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 annual in September.

When is the Awards Presentation Ceremony?

The Yidan Prize Awards Presentation Ceremony usually takes place in December every year.

When is the nomination deadline?

Our nomination period usually begins in September and runs until March of 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Nominations are strictly confidential so we do not publish specific numbers or detailed information about particular nominations.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.

Making a nomination

Who can make a nomination?

We welcome all nominations; 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.

Officially, you need to be a ‘credible witness’ to their impact: you need to have a thorough understanding of the work. In terms of your role, most of our nominators tend to be members of government bodies, non-governmental organizations or professional associations. Otherwise, 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.

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 you nominate a person or team more than once in the same year?

Yes—they can be part of two separate nominations in the same category, or you can nominate them 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 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.

Nominating yourself

What is self-nomination?

When the nominator is the same person as the nominee or one of the nominee(s). You may nominate yourself as long as you can submit at least three recommendation letters from your supporters.

Nominating a team

Can members of a nominated team work in different organizations?

Yes. The nominating team (up to three people) do not need to work in the same organization. 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, nominations for people or teams at non-profit or for-profit organizations are equally welcome.

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—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?

We only ask that the nominations are for education research or education development. As a global inclusive prize, our Judging Committee reviews nominations covering any region, theme, or level of education equally.

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. And 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.

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 and 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. Most of the time, we recommend uploading documents where you can so there’s no risk the link will expire. But for videos and audio, we understand a link might be better to avoid huge file sizes.

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.

Where can I specify the nominee’s (or nominees’) expertise, and what should I emphasize?

You can add this in part 3 section 4 of the nomination form. You can choose up to ten areas (described in ten words or fewer).

We’re most interested in the work they specialize in, especially if they’re pioneers in a particular area.

Here are two examples.

Our inaugural Education Research Laureate, Professor Carol Dweck chose:

  • Educational psychology
  • Education policy
  • Inclusion and equality in education
  • Culture-sensitive education
  • Classroom cultures
  • Adolescent development
  • STEM education

And our inaugural Education Development Laureate, Ms Vicky Colbert, chose:

  • Quality education
  • Equality in education
  • Learning methods
  • Lifelong education
  • Teaching and learning
  • Social and emotional education
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.

Don’t worry about the production quality. The judges are interested in the video’s content, not style. And they don’t consider appearances (like age, race, or gender). They’re looking for evidence of commitment, and a thoughtful plan for how to get the greatest impact from the project funding.

The nominee is welcome to record in their native language—in fact, sometimes that can make it easier to show passion—we just ask you to add English subtitles, too. We only use this video for judging. We won’t circulate it or publish it without nominee’s permission.

As a nominator, you can’t make this video on behalf of your nominee(s)—only if you’re self-nominating. If any nominees have difficulty making a verbal presentation, please contact the Secretariat at [email protected].

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.

Can I edit my nomination after submitting it?

You can keep editing and re-submitting your nomination right up to the closing date: 31 March at 12 noon Hong Kong time (GMT+8).

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.

Re-submitting a nomination

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

Yes—we store all nominations that have not been selected in the Yidan Prize database. When nominations open for the following year’s entry, nominators may login to the platform to edit and submit their nominations again.

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

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

We welcome re-submissions, and our Judging Committee reviews them with a fresh eye every year. Since 2020, we’ve kept all nominations on our system so you can resubmit for any future years.

You don’t have to edit the form if it’s all up to date. But of course, you can add new evidence or supporter letters. You can use the same letters as before, as long as the supporter is happy with that—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 your supporters are 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 people who know the nominee or nominees’ work well and endorse their achievements.

A supporter might have a unique perspective on the work and can speak from their own experience about how it makes an impact. When you submit your nomination, we ask you to confirm 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.

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 a nominee
  • you’re immediate family to any of the nominees
  • you’re the nominator
  • you’re a current member of our Board of Directors, Advisory Committee, or Judging Committee.
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 in the ‘other supporting documents’ section.

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

We set a limit of 5,000 words, which the supporter should use to clearly explain why they’re recommending the nominee(s).

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 ‘other supporting documents’ section

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, you may 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].