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June 26, 2016


Monaco, January 26, 2016

The 2016 Prince’s Prize for Innovative Philanthropy has been awarded to Shai Reshef of University of the People (UoPeople).

UoPeople is the world’s first tuition-free, non-profit, accredited online university, dedicated to opening access to higher education. Grounded in the belief that knowledge is a key ingredient of world peace, UoPeople uses open-source technology, Open Educational Resources and the assistance of academic volunteers to provide access to collegiate-level studies to qualified individuals from over 180 countries, regardless of geographic, financial or societal constraints.

Shai Reshef, President of UoPeople, is an educational entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in the international education market. He founded the university with the conviction that higher education should be seen as a basic right, and that it has the power to both transform the lives of individuals and be an important force for societal change.

The University offers Associate and Bachelor degree programs in Business Administration and Computer Science and is currently in the process of developing new Health Science and MBA degrees. With its tuition-free online programs, UoPeople provides access to higher education for all those constrained, as well as builds a scalable and replicable model capable of changing the very nature of higher education. The university expects to reach 5,000 students in 2016 and double the number of its students every year after that. The non-profit has managed to reduce almost the entire cost of higher education and does not charge for tuition, books, or materials. Students take the courses for free but are expected to pay modest examination fees ($100) levied per course, and for those who cannot afford this minimal fee, scholarships are available.

“Mr Reshef founded the University of the People with the strong conviction that higher education creates new life opportunities to many students, families and communities,” said HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Recently, UoPeople announced it had allocated funding for the scholarships of 500 refugees, predominantly from Syria, residing all over the world. “Possessing a degree impacts not only on the personal circumstances of students, their families and communities, but it also holds significant value for the economic and social development of the countries in which they live or may live in the future,” said Shai Reshef. “Higher education needs to be a right for all and not a privilege for the few. I believe it is important that world leaders recognize that education is the most effective solution for addressing many of the world’s most pressing issues. What UoPeople sets out to show is that quality higher education can be accessible and affordable, even for the most constrained individuals around the world for whom the idea of higher education may seem far out of reach. When you educate one person, you can change a person’s life, but when you educate many, you can change the world.”

The Prince’s Prize for Innovative Philanthropy is a global initiative developed jointly by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Tocqueville Foundation in Paris, France. Its aim is to promote inspiring and innovative initiatives in the field of strategic philanthropy. The Prince’s Prize results from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco’s close involvement in the Prince’s Roundtable on Philanthropy, a closed-door discussion of leading international philanthropists which takes place every year in Monaco immediately following the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

Press queries to:
Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation
Isabelle Peters, Director of Communications,, + 377 98 98 43 27
Amélie Huré, Events Officer,, + 377 98 98 44 11

Tocqueville Foundation
Brenna Lundstrom, Director of the Prince’s Prize,, +33 6 43 54 84 18

University of the People
The PR Team,, +1 626 219 8402

The Prince’s Prize for Innovative Philanthropy is an initiative developed by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and The Tocqueville Foundation. Its goal is to highlight projects and initiatives that have triggered innovative activity in the field of philanthropy, seeking out individuals and organizations that inspire others. The Prince’s Roundtable on Philanthropy, a closed-door forum of leading international philanthropists, takes place in Monaco every year following the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, and many of the Roundtable’s members serve on the nominating and evaluating committee for the Prince’s Prize.

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, created by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco in 2006, addresses the alarming threats hanging over our planet’s environment. The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation works for the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development. The Foundation supports initiatives conducted by public and private organizations within the fields of research, technological innovation and activities to raise awareness of the social issues at stake. It funds projects in three main geographical regions: the Mediterranean Basin, the Polar Regions and the Least Developed Countries. The Foundation’s efforts focus on three main sectors: Climate change and renewable energies, biodiversity, and integrated and sustainable water management together with the fight against desertification.

The Tocqueville Foundation is an international grant-making, prize-awarding and operating foundation registered in France under the auspices of the Institut de France. Its mission and vision are deeply rooted in Alexis de Tocqueville’s social and political thought, and particularly his belief in the fundamental contribution of civil society to democratic and economic development. The Tocqueville Foundation fosters a dynamic civil society through learning, innovation and engagement. By promoting strategic philanthropy and social investing, building bridges across borders and generations, the Tocqueville Foundation promotes a well- developed and effective civil society where individuals, acting together, address common problems and build sustainable social equity for future generations.

University of the People