Actors Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, sporting heroes Zach and Julie Ertz join judging panel that will pick the winner of the new Global Student Prize

Ashton Kutcher

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, which launched the new Global Student Prize this year, thanked and welcomed celebrated figures from film and sports to the new Global Student Prize Academy.

The newest members of the Global Student Prize Academy include actors Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, US women’s national soccer team player and two times World Cup winner Julie Ertz and her husband Philadelphia Eagles tight end and Superbowl champion Zach Ertz.

The Varkey Foundation launched the Global Student Prize this year, a $50,000 sister award to the Global Teacher Prize, to create a powerful new platform to highlight the efforts of extraordinary students throughout the world that are making a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society beyond. Members of the Academy will pick the final winner of the Global Student Prize. The closing date for applications and nominations is on Sunday 16 May 2021.

Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation, said:

“I warmly welcome all these celebrated leaders who are lending their star power to the cause of giving students a voice.

“Whatever the question, education is the answer. Now more than ever, we must shine a light on inspiring students who hold the future in their hands.

“With world leaders preoccupied with the vital task of bringing this terrible pandemic to an end, I urge them to never forget that it is only by prioritising education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows. I urge students to apply for this Prize without delay, as time is short.”

Ashton Kutcher is the co-founder of Thorn (, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building technology to defend children from sexual abuse. Additionally, Kutcher produces Going from Broke, a financial-makeover show created to help college students and graduates grappling with debt during the pandemic. Chegg CEO, Dan Rosensweig, hosts the show. Mila Kunis supports charities such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, along with causes including at-risk/disadvantaged youths and children.

Julie and Zach Ertz launched the Ertz Family Foundation whose mission includes learning through sports and advancing education to build supportive communities. Earlier this year they teamed up with partners including Chegg to provide 600,000 meals to hungry families in Philadelphia.

All four of these leaders in their field, who care passionately about the wellbeing of children and young people, were today announced as members of the Global Student Prize Academy. Members are chosen based on having a history of mentoring students in their studies or careers, having campaigned on behalf of student issues or having expertise in education and young people.

These celebrated figures joined education and NGO leaders who today also announced they were joining the Global Student Prize Academy. These include Cynthia Germanotta, President of Born This Way Foundation, which she co-founded with her daughter Lady Gaga; Global Teacher Prize winners Ranjitsinh Disale from India, Andria Zafirakou from the UK, Peter Tabichi from Kenya and Maggie MacDonnell from Canada;  Isolda Calsina, Minister of Education, Jujuy Province, Argentina; author Asheesh Advani, President and CEO of education NGO Junior Achievement Worldwide; Brian Schreuder, recently retired head of South Africa’s Western Cape education department; and Wendy Kopp, CEO and Co-Founder of the Teach For All global network of independent nonprofits working to expand educational opportunity. Further appointments to the Global Student Prize Academy will be made in the weeks and months ahead.

Ashton Kutcher said:

“I admire Chegg’s passion for helping young people as they prepare to inherit an uncertain world. I’m thrilled that Mila and I can help this cause by becoming members of the Global Student Prize Academy. It’s important that we recognize and support deserving student role models at this time. I would urge students everywhere to consider applying before the 16 May deadline.”

Mila Kunis said:

This generation of students hold an increasingly uncertain future in their hands and so the importance of a good education has never been more important. Now more than ever, we must hear their voices. So Ashton and I are proud to play our part in helping inspiring students tell their stories to the world through the Global Student Prize.”

Zach Ertz said:

“There are many unsung young heroes in our classrooms around the world, and I believe it is vitally important we shine a light on them, so they receive the acclaim they deserve. This Prize gives students a new voice, and I cannot wait to see the many incredible students who will be highlighted through this new award.”

Julie Ertz said:

“There are so many student role models who are worthy of great recognition. The Global Student Prize has the potential to bring these unsung heroes to the fore as they look to lift up their classmates and build a better world. I’m looking forward to seeing these inspiring stories.”

Lila Thomas, Head of

“I thank all these celebrated leaders that have come forward to join this academy and show their backing for the world’s students.

“Students throughout the world during the pandemic have shown great strength, focus and determination to keep learning and keep fighting for their future. They deserve huge praise and recognition for never giving up.

“The Global Student Prize has been launched to shine a light on their stories and listen to their voices. After all, it is their dreams, their insights and their creativity that will help to build the future.”

The Global Student Prize Academy will pick the ultimate winner of the $50,000 award which will be announced live at a ceremony in Paris in November (Covid conditions permitting).

Nominations and applications for the Global Student Prize can be made at and the closing date for applications is Sunday 16 May 2021.

The prize will be narrowed down to a Top 50 shortlist and Top 10 finalists, to be announced later in the year, helping to provide worldwide recognition for high achieving students. The winner will be chosen from the top 10 finalists by the Global Student Prize Academy made up of prominent individuals.

If students are being nominated, the person nominating them will write a brief description online explaining why.  The student being nominated will then be sent an email letting them know they’ve been nominated and inviting them to apply for the prize.   Applicants can apply in English, Mandarin, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.

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