Reward Your Student's Grit and Character in 2024

2024 GritGrant Awards

GG23Harrison.Jim.emma-2The McKenzie Foundation and Uncharted Learning are pleased to announce the submission process for the 2024 GritGrant™ Awards.

WHO is Eligible?  Students currently enrolled in high school INCubatoredu/ACCELeratoredu and/or MobileMakersEdu/MobileMakersStudio programs and nominated by teachers from Uncharted Learning member schools through a recommendation letter are eligible. 

WHAT are GritGrants?  GritGrants are cash awards recognizing students who overcome adversity to reach their goals. The award winners motivate others not to quit no matter the difficulty. This year, four students will receive $2,500 each for a total of $10,000 in grants.

WHEN are recommendations due? The submission window for recommendation letters opens March 29, 2024, at 8:00 AM CST and they are due no later than May 24, 2024, at 5:00 PM CST. 

WHERE will the Awards be announced?  Awards will be announced at the Uncharted Learning National Summit on July 17, 2024.

WHY GritGrants? The McKenzie Foundation established GritGrants to:

  1. Reward the “Grit” of students who successfully overcome adversity
  2. Motivate others that no obstacle is insurmountable

“Grit” is inspirational. It comes from passion, perseverance, and a never-quit attitude. The McKenzie Foundation wants to encourage student passion and perseverance when things seem too tough to keep going. 

HOW will GritGrants be awarded: GritGrants will be based on a student’s Grit and Character. Elements of 'Grit' include: 

  • Optimism, confidence, and creativity 
  • Resilience despite fear
  • Laser-like focus on meaningful goals
  • Excellence not perfection 

'Elements of Character' refers to ways of thinking, acting, and feeling that benefit others as well as ourselves. Character includes:

  • Heart—such as gratitude and kindness, enabling harmonious relationships with other people 
  • Mind—such as curiosity and creativity, enabling independent thinking
  • Will—such as discipline and self-control

Students will be evaluated on their demonstration of these characteristics and qualities in working towards their goals.


Teachers from Uncharted Learning member schools can each nominate a total of two students to represent their school's INCubatoredu/ACCELeratoredu and/or MobileMakersEdu/MobileMakersStudio programs. 

Nominations are made by INCubatoredu or MobileMakersEdu teachers in the form of a recommendation letter. 

To submit an application, follow this link.

The recommendation letter must include the following:

  • School Name and Address
  • Teacher Name and Email
  • Name of Student and Graduation Year
  • Description of Student’s “Grit” and “Character” (not to exceed 1500 words) 
  • Nominations will be considered based on the authenticity of content.

No minimum GPA level is required.

The submission window opens on March 29, 2024 at 8:00 AM CST. Recommendation letters are due no later than May 24, 2024 at 5:00 PM CST.

GritGrant nominations are reviewed by a committee of volunteer community champions, and recipients are selected in a final round by a panel of entrepreneurs.


GritGrant™️ Winners

GritGrant has presented awards to 17 students since the 2019/20 school year. Congratulations to the 2023 winners!

anna buendia

Anna Buendia

Ronald Reagan High School, NEISD, San Antonio, TX

Teacher:  Robyn Anderson
Emma Gorenflo

Emma Gorenflo

William Henry Harrison High School
Southwest Local Schools, OH

Teacher: Eric Meyer
Darryl Lopez

Darryl Lopez

Aquinas American School, Madrid, Spain

Teachers: José Manuel Berrendero, Maria Diz
Daivari Rogers

Daivari Rogers

Rock Island High School, Rock Island-Milan District 41

Teacher: Patricia Matson
GritGrant Awards-2022-images-1

Maiya Zepeda

Franklin Road Academy, Nashville, TN

Teacher: Stacy Banks-Houston

Special Thanks

Attorney and business leader James Gallo has shared his time and talents as an INCubatoredu volunteer, and is a star player and motivator for the Chicago Wheelchair Bulls. His actions move others to keep going and 'DO'.

Jim Gallo (1)

James Gallo

INCubatoredu Community Champion, District 211, and Mentor and Coach, District 214 


About The McKenzie Foundation

The McKenzie Foundation was established to inspire peace through kindness and education. To illustrate this philanthropic mission, its founders, Maureen and James McKenzie, along with their children, Alexandra, Samuel and Joseph, lead the Foundation to fund nonprofits working on peacemaking through education and the improvement of the human spirit. The Foundation believes in building the capacity of its partners and the realization of their commitments. As active impact donors, the Foundation aligns its mission with grant-making goals. Outside of this work, the Foundation makes discretionary donations by invitation.