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September 29, 2023

UoPeople President Shai Reshef Awarded 2023 Yidan Prize: The World’s Highest Education Accolade

Yidan Prize Medal

(Pasadena, CA) – The Yidan Prize Foundation has awarded Shai Reshef, President and Founder of the University of the People, the 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Development, the world’s highest education accolade, referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Education.” The award recognizes Reshef’s innovative solutions to open the gates of higher education to all qualified students globally.

The Yidan Prize honors change-makers in education research and development. Prize winners receive a gold medal and HK$30 million (approximately US$3.8 million), half of which is an unrestricted project fund to support the scaling of their work, and the other half is a cash prize, which Reshef plans to donate to UoPeople.

Reshef founded UoPeople, the first non-profit, tuition-free, American, accredited online university, in 2009 to help underserved populations overcome financial, geographic, political, and personal constraints keeping them from university studies. Since then, the university has grown to more than 137,000 students from over 200 countries, including more than 16,500 refugees and 3,000 Afghan women studying online from the safety of their homes.

Together with Reshef, the Foundation also awarded Arizona State University Professor Michelene Chi the 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Research. Reshef and Chi will join the Foundation’s exclusive global community of education innovators.

“We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the 2023 Yidan Prize laureates. By recognizing innovative and transformative research and practices—those that unlock opportunities for learners—we can help create a better world through education,” said Dr. Charles CHEN Yidan, Founder of the Yidan Prize.

This award recognizes Reshef’s vision of a world where all qualified high school graduates can access higher education, regardless of financial, geographic, political, and personal circumstances.

“I am extremely honored to receive the 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Development for my work towards making higher education accessible, affordable, and of the highest quality and developing a scalable model to empower marginalized communities worldwide. Moreover, it acknowledges the 15 years of hard work I have dedicated to building UoPeople,” said Reshef.

Reshef plans to use the Yidan Prize project funds to advocate for the transformation of higher education, making it a fundamental right for all rather than a privilege for a select few. UoPeople will continue its exponential growth by extending its reach to the millions of underserved students needing higher education access and enabling other institutions to replicate its successful model addressing the pressing challenges of accessibility and affordability in higher education by offering a comprehensive solution.

About University of the People
University of the People (UoPeople) is the Education Revolution. It is the first non-profit, tuition-free, American-accredited online university. Currently, there are over 137,000 students from more than 200 countries and territories. Designed to open access to higher education globally, UoPeople helps qualified high school graduates overcome financial, geographic, political, and personal constraints keeping them from collegiate studies. The university offers certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, computer science, and health science, as well as MBA, MSIT, and M.Ed. programs. Graduates of UoPeople can be found working at such companies as Deloitte, Amazon, Apple, Pfizer, Google, Microsoft, and IBM. UoPeople collaborates with Harvard Business School Online, NYU Abu Dhabi, McGill University, and the University of Edinburgh and has been supported by foundations such as the Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Hewlett Foundation. Learn more at

About the Yidan Prize Foundation
The Yidan Prize Foundation is a global philanthropic foundation, with a mission of creating a better world through education. Through its prize and network of innovators, the Yidan Prize Foundation supports ideas and practices in education—specifically, ones with the power to positively change lives and society. The Yidan Prize is an inclusive education accolade that recognizes individuals or teams who have contributed significantly to the theory and practice of education. It consists of two prizes, working in harmony: the Yidan Prize for Education Research and the Yidan Prize for Education Development. They’re designed for impact: laureates receive a project fund of HK$15 million over three years, helping them scale up their work, as well as a gold medal and a cash prize of HK$15 million. The project fund and cash prize are shared equally for teams. Learn more at