illuminate:nextgen Challenge

The illuminate:nextgen Challenge is the flagship program of illuminate Education Australia, provides high school students with an authentic entrepreneurial environment for students to activate the confidence, creativity and capability to reach their full potential through solving problems in their community. Supported by experienced facilitators at every step with support of the community and our partners, participants work in teams to develop a new project or business idea, developing key skills including;

  • Communication (Speaking, Writing & Presentation Skills)
  • Understanding (Critical Thinking, Inquiry, Digital & Financial Literacy)
  • Solving Problems (Creativity, Problem Solving & Reflection)
  • Working Smart (Collaboration, Organisation & Perseverance)

Across the week, students explore the innovative process designed by illuminate Education Australia, growing in their skills and confidence within themselves and of their peers throughout the journey. Teams begin by growing in their understand of a relevant issue in their community and build their knowledge base to define the problem they see, creatively explore and refine possible solutions, develop business models for sustained impact as well as marketing materials that connect with target customers, present the idea for investment and support, showcase how their team will work collaboratively to deliver the solution and a prototype of their solution. All of the skills and resources required to complete these stages are introduced by illuminate Education Australia facilitators in the week, both to complete the challenge but to also see how these transferable skills can be used in other contexts.

With over 12,500 students across Australia having completed the program – and a vast majority completing our week long illuminate:nextgen Challenge – alongside international recognition for our work, the challenge is an incredibly impactful experience that will leave your students, teachers and wider community inspired for years to come.

Overview of the Week

With so many elements built into the illuminate:nextgen Challenge, it can be hard to put it all into words.

To help with that, our partners at Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand produced this video in association with the University of Newcastle’s Ourimbah Campus, where over 150 students from 12 different schools came up with new ideas in agribusiness and connecting consumers to local produce. You will see key sessions throughout the challenge and journey with teams and their teachers as they grew in their confidence, creativity and capability with the challenge.

New Digital Delivery

In light of the COVID-19 restrictions across Australia, illuminate Education Australia has designed a digitally delivered illuminate:nextgen Challenge which means students can complete the program from their home, or participate as a team from their own school without the need to travel to another location. These programs will be delivered for the near future until the current restrictions are lifted, both for programs delivered in schools as well challenges that are run across the region.

More Information

The challenge is designed to allow students who have never completed an experience like this before to learn all of the skills and frameworks required within the week, which means there is no need for teachers to provide students with additional content or teaching. With programs hosting anywhere between 20 and 300 students, the mixture of skills and experiences the range of students bring to the table, even from within the one school, makes for a rich and memorable experience students will refer to and draw upon for years to come.

With illuminate Education founded by Adam Mostogl (Top 30 Under 30 Australian Entrepreneurs 2017, Finalist for Young Australian of the Year 2015), the challenge offers an experience of the working world while still being educationally relevant, allowing students to grow at every stage through the innovation process. Teams complete industry-relevant submissions with the support of the wider community, alongside illuminate Education Australia’s facilitators who design and deliver every component of the program with a focus on creating an engaging learning environment. With this in mind, the illuminate:nextgen Challenge is aligned to the Australian Curriculum across the General Capabilities as well as various subject areas, the Victorian Curriculum and the Australian Blueprint for Career Development at Years 8, 9 & 10, with adaptations for Year 11 and 12 students. 

To ensure the content and learning environment is relevant to the participating students, the program is delivered in person by illuminate Education Australia’s experienced facilitators. This means our facilitators coordinate with the school and wider community in delivering and shaping the content, guiding students through all of the required tasks, supporting teams to grow and succeed, as well as generally sharing their knowledge and experiences to challenge and inspire the participants. This is done through the careful forward planning and preparation, with all resources prepared upon arriving in the school – focusing the time when delivering the challenge upon the impact of the program without requiring schools to invest significant time in advance of the challenge.

Regional Programs

Our regional programs give the perfect opportunity for small groups of students from across the community from different schools to complete the  illuminate:nextgen Challenge. With the generous support of our partners, the registration costs are often covered making it easier for schools to bring students to the challenge (leaving the school to cover relief and transport in most situations), which not only increases the amount of students who can benefit from the challenge, but also bringing together a range of schools to increase the competitive element of the challenge environment.

In-School Programs

With the illuminate:nextgen Challenge designed to have around 140 students complete the program together, delivering the challenge in school allows every student in a year group benefit from the experience and the skills it develops – without having to leave the campus. Delivered by facilitators from illuminate Education Australia who come into the school along with industry guests at a time that suits the school, the challenge runs within the normal school day, and provides an opportunity to integrate the benefits of the program into the school program through the topic covered and skills developed over the week.

What Others Say…

Don’t just take our word about the benefits of the illuminate:nextgen Challenge – here are testimonials from teachers and industry partners reflecting on the impact of the challenge.

“In this rapidly changing world with the rise of emerging economies and onset of digital disruption, programs like the illuminate:nextgen Challenge are absolutely critical to regional communities. Rather than seeing change as a threat, illuminate Education opens the eyes of our young people to the opportunities that change presents.

– TIM WATSON, General Manager, Dorset Council, TAS

““I have enrolled students in the illuminate:nextgen Challenge for many years. illuminate Education excels at motivating young people to become the independent learning, self-directed adults that our nation so desperately needs. Their provision of real-world learning is second to none and their programs are still talked about by students many years after they’ve left school. Best of all illuminate Education’s programs target those cross-curricular priorities that are so difficult to address in the day-to-day classroom.

– BOB ASHBY, Teacher, Sheffield School, Tas

“Technical capabilities are the necessary, but not sufficient attributes for people hired into my organisation. The best candidates complement their technical capability with emotional intelligence along with the skills taught by Illuminate Education. Working at today’s speed of business requires employees to bring more to the workplace. Creativity, a willingness to collaborate, natural curiosity and the ability to contribute to effective teamwork are key characteristics of tomorrow’s high performing leaders.”

– MIKE FAULKNER, Managing Director (Australia and New Zealand), Verizon Enterprise

“The illuminate:nextgen Challenge pushes students to extend themselves in a positive, supportive setting. It helps student to develop the real-world skills necessary for any workplace, and exposes them to study and career options. The program helps students to unlock their full potential and discover their future.

– BRENDAN TAIG, Careers Practitioner, Suzanne Cory High School, Vic

“My school participated in the illuminate:nextgen Challenge for the first time in 2018. The students were excited for the week but not not sure what to expect. Now they are excited for their future.

– JUSTINE LYONS, Business Studies Teacher, Pimlico State High School, Qld

“The illuminate:nextgen Challenge was exactly that, a challenge. The students really enjoyed the program and were able to stretch themselves and learn new skills. It also changed their perspective on learning and propelled them to the top of their classes.

– CATHERINE EPPEN-VAN DER AA, Head of Humanities and Languages, Mandurah Baptist College, WA

“The illuminate:nextgen challenge was, as described by one of our students at our school’s end of year awards ceremony, a life changing experience for our Year 10 students. The week created such a positive vibe amongst those doing the challenge and indeed, throughout the entire school, and students from all years seemed to be taking an active interest. It certainly allowed our students to develop all of those ’21st century skills’ that everyone is talking about – self-directed learning, leadership, team-work, stress management, time prioritisation, meeting deadlines, innovative and creative thinking and public-speaking, with that all important exposure to how a business works. I really do believe that this challenge, and the skills that were developed by students, will have a lasting impact on them, not only for success in Year 11 and 12, but also post-school education and in their working lives. A huge thank-you must go to the illuminate Education team and to our local business people that so willingly volunteered their time to be a part of the program. What invaluable mentors our students have had!”

– DALE MASSIE, HSIE Teacher, Terrigal High School, NSW

“The value of illuminate Education cannot be underestimated. Their expertise in terms of being able to connect with students, industry experts and curriculum content – and bringing them all together in a dynamic and meaningful way for our prospective students – is very powerful. We’ve received so much positive feedback about our illuminate:nextgen Challenge business workshops that we’ve expanded our program with them– in order to reach out to even more students than we can ever bring to campus. One of the most common things we hear from our students is the illuminate:nextgen Challenge experience has been life-changing for them. In addition to opening their eyes to the basics of running a business, the illuminate:nextgen Challenge program inspires them about the opportunities of a business education, and the life-long skills that it can give them. Even our staff who participate have said that the illuminate:nextgen Challenge has literally been one of their career

– ALEX KHO, Marketing and Development Manager, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University, Vic

“Thank you and your team for the fantastic experience had by our students during the illuminate:nextgen Challenge. Our students were engaged throughout and took away many valuable new insights in regards to the world of business and also valuable insights into how they respond to a challenge. The event was fantastically managed, flowed effortlessly and delivered the right balance of expert input with student work. The facilitators were excellent role models for the kids and ran the week in a professional and engaging manner. As a staff member supervising students, I enjoyed myself throughout the week and would love the opportunity to attend again with another group of students ready to take our business pitch to a new level!!”

– ERIC RADICE, Teacher, Yule Brook College, WA

“From my previous experiences working with illuminate Education, I have seen kids given the opportunity to explore their ideas and put them in to practice in front of real people from the business community and have the opportunity to receive constructive feedback. It seems incredibly powerful to give children from primary to secondary school age these opportunities – I think the more children that can be reached with these programs the better. The world is a fast changing place and we need the leaders of tomorrow to learn these sort of things differently and earlier than past generations.

– DANIEL SHELTON, Bank Manager, Mystate, Tas

“The future of our world is in these young people’s hands and this program allows the students to have an opportunity to think outside the box and have input into changes that they would one day like to witness. The 21st century skills that this program offers can’t necessarily be taught in a classroom. It is a great kick-start to their career pathway.”

– ELYCE BATES, Careers Advisor, Terrigal High School, NSW

“Regional Development Australia Tasmania has been a long-time supporter of the work that illuminate Education undertakes with our next generation of potential business leaders. The team at illuminate Education deliver a comprehensive program introducing secondary students to the basic foundations of running a business. Importantly, they do it in a way that enthusiastically engages students, which no doubt installs a level of confidence for the participants to become small business champions of the future.”

– CRAIG PERKINS, CEO and Director of Regional Development, Regional Development Australia Tasmania, Tas

“The nextgen Challenge has evolved and grown over past few years. It has become one of Riverside High Schools priorities as an educational activity outside the normal curriculum. The students are given an amazing opportunity to experience the world of work in a truly invigorating and educational environment. All aspects of the week-long challenge are well planned and relevant to the challenge. All students should experience something like this in their journey through high school.

– AMANDA CLARIDGE, Assistant Principal, Riverside High School, Tas

“I have been really impressed with [illuminate Education’s] program and the quality of the ideas that the students generate… As a member of the business community, I have valued the opportunity to share some Marketing theory along with industry/business examples to bring this to life, keeping the attention of the students. This opportunity and experience has helped me in other presentation work that I conduct as part of my professional role, simplifying concepts and practising presenting to an audience of 100+ is always a valuable opportunity.”

– SHARON GREEN, Advertising Media and Sponsorship Manager, Sanitarium, NSW

A student knocked on my door the day after the illuminate:nextgen Challenge and explained how it was the best week of her school life and can she do it again!

– STACEY EXNER, Executive Principal, Dubbo College, NSW

“With only a fledgling knowledge of the business world, I see young people use imagination based design to create business models, products and services. Educating them to turn something new into reality is the spark in the illuminate:nextgen challenge.”

– KEVIN TURNER, Regional Economic Development Officer, Regional Development Tasmania Australia, Tas

What a week! The students were engaged, the presenters were authentic, and the simulations were as close to a real business experience as one could ever hope for. illuminate Education have created a brilliant programme that is accurately targeted at Years 9 and 10 – they really understand what they’re about. We will be looking to expand involvement next year and beyond.”

– MARK SMITHIES, Business Studies and ICT Teacher, Devonport High School, Tas

“Bringing illuminate Education into a regional area is fabulous for our students who often have to travel to attend events. Bringing the program to them and making the focus for the week on their community gives them a broader understanding of the local issues and potential of the area in which they live. It is great to see the students develop their skills during the week, becoming more self-directed, being resourceful and developing their team working skills. It also great to have teachers in the room who can see the potential in their students as well as learning new skills including teaching strategies that they can then take back into the classroom.”

– PAM WATERS, Program Coordinator, Gippsland East LLEN, Vic

“The illuminate:nextgen Challenge gave our students from 13 schools an extraordinary experience where they applied the great skills they are getting to a real world situation beyond the classroom. They excelled throughout the entire challenge process using real life skills around interrogating information to solve a problem creatively, research, digital literacy, presentation, market research and collaboration. The students grew so much throughout the experience and they readily articulated that learning. A wonderful opportunity to try the real world in a great learning environment. Cannot recommend the challenge highly enough!”

– SHAYNE PLAYER, Principal, Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College Tumbi Umbi Campus, NSW

“I have had the pleasure of judging illuminate Education’s programs which was a fantastic opportunity for me to contribute to the development of our community’s future leaders. Adam and his team have put together a phenomenal package that thrusts our young people into the challenges we face as contributors to the workforce, whether that’s managing a project, leading a team, or developing and pitching a business idea. It is delivered in an inspiring and encouraging way. Whilst I am always blown away by the creativity and perseverance shown by the students, a major benefit I see in this program is the ability to identify at this early stage, the key areas of improvement for the students to work towards (I’m a stickler for polished communication!). I am sure that each and every student walks away with a greater understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, and an insight into the skills required for entrepreneurship”

– KAITLIN ROACH, Community Development Officer, West Tamar Council, Tas

The illuminate:nextgen Challenge was an amazing opportunity for our students to discover things about themselves they would not have been about to explore in the everyday classroom. The way the program was run was exceptional, teaching students about the various elements of running a business, giving them practical skills and then allowing them to “get their hands dirty” by applying their new enterprise knowledge. Students were extended and pushed to achieve some incredible results and the comments since they have returned have been nothing but positive. We will definitely be involved in this program in years to come as it offers opportunities that we are not always able to offer within the school environment.”

– LOU CHRISTIE, ICT Teacher, Clarence High School, Tas

“The illuminate:nextgen Challenge was a valuable experience for our JTC year nine students. Yes, students learnt a lot about what it takes to start up a business. Importantly, they also learnt a lot about collaboration, communication, working under pressure and problem solving. Students were encouraged to participate in a real-world experience, beyond the classroom, to bring their ideas to life. Students stepped up and pushed themselves that little bit further to complete the challenge. We look forward to working with Adam next year to take nextgen to the next level in W.A.”

– REBEKAH BESSANT, AVID Coordinator, John Tonkin College, WA

“The illuminate:nextgen challenge was an awesome experience for our students. They were provided with a level of challenge greater than they would normally experience and were placed in a working environment that allowed them to explore their ideas and skills in a mature workspace. The ownership that the students demonstrated of their idea from brainstorming to the final product was key and their sense of achievement at the end of the week was enormous. Students were empowered by the experience and felt great pride in their success.

– BENJAMIN JOYCE, Teacher, Erina High School, NSW

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve collated some of the frequently asked questions about the illuminate:nextgen Challenge, that will help find out more about how the program runs. The answers are generic in nature to try and cover all bases, but for specific programs, plese contact us directly to find out more.

We’re not ones for limiting students who should be involved as we believe almost any student would flourish in this learning environment, we would recommend offering this to students who;

  • Are interested in starting their own business, regularly shows initiative and is creative in their approaches to problems, or
  • Could be leaders in the future, so they can benefit from the skills developed in the challenge to excel no matter their future decisions, or
  • Currently considering if further education is an option for them, as it will give them an authentic experience of what an adult learning environment is like, or
  • Are excelling in school as this learning environment is self-directed allowing their skills and passions to drive their performance, or
  • Are disengaged from learning, as students explore concepts in authentic ways and can explore their passions through the way the challenge is facilitated, or
  • Are undertaking business, commerce and accounting classes as the content will be delivered by people in the fields to boost their knowledge and allow them to apply the knowledge in a new environment.

The program will be entirely dependent on the capacity of the available venues in the area, however we’d like to have as many students as possible participate. Our team are capable of running programs with up to 200 students in the one program with two facilitators, but only if the venue allows for us to safely host this many students.

We recommend to enter as teams of seven, however you can enter teams of between five and eight students. These sizes have been set on our previous experience in running this programs that maximise student engagement in tasks without excessively overloading students.

We keep the exact wording of the theme secret until the opening presentation of the challenge, to add to the excitement and pressure of the experience. This ensures that all students have the opportunity to approach the challenge with an open mind, but the theme will be relevant to the economy and region. In the past we’ve given students themes such as social entrepreneurship, sustainability, tourism development, manufacturing and exporting internationally, and much more.

No. The illuminate:nextgen Challenge is developed so that all students can learn the basics of business and entrepreneurship through the presentations and content delivered in the four/five day period.

During the challenge, the entire program is run by facilitators from illuminate Education. We also invite speakers from the community as well as representatives from our partners to present content as well as judge the student work. Whilst teaching staff may assist students on the first day, their role will be primarily to supervise. Teaching staff will also have the opportunity to attend lecture sessions.

At the conclusion of the program, an awards ceremony will be hosted to celebrate students’ achievements across the challenge. Awards will be presented to teams and schools, based on criteria as set out at the beginning of the week.

illuminate Education recognises that schools have their own duty of care requirements and recommend these should be followed, whether the program is occuring on the school campus or off-site. illuminate Education will have at least one facilitator attending the program at all times, with all facilitators holding current Working with Children Checks.

Awards will be presented for tasks submitted throughout the challenge as well as overall awards at an award ceremony on the last day of the challenge. The judging panel will be made up of representatives from the community as well as supporters of illuminate Education, with all work assessed against eight criteria:

  1. Strategy & Organisation
  2. Research & Inquiry
  3. Creativity & Innovation
  4. Financial Interpretation
  5. Communication
  6. Use of Digital Technology
  7. Real World Application

All teams will be provided with a folder containing resources that will be useful for the week. Additionally, students can bring the following optional items:

  • Laptops or tablets. Care of these items will be the responsibility of the student.
  • Pens and paper. These can be used to take notes and support the learning environment.
  • As the challenge progresses, students may decide to bring additional resources or equipment from home/ school, specifically for their trade display stall promoting their business.

illuminate Education also recommends students to use their mobile phones to complete tasks and undertake research across the week, but this will be discussed with the schools to confirm student use

Students are required to wear their school uniform from Monday to Thursday. On Friday (presentation day), students are recommended to wear neat attire relevant to their business idea, or can continue to wear their school uniform, but this will be discussed with the school as the program draws closer.

All sessions and tasks throughout the challenge are aligned with the Australian Curriculum. The challenge meets content descriptors for English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, Technologies, the Arts and Work Studies, as well as the Australian Blueprint for Career Development and Tasmania’s MyEducation framework. These are available upon request from illuminate Education directly.

Our focus is to make the process as easy as possible, and we will discuss the program closely with the relevant staff to ensure it is a success. However here is a quick list to help start the advance preparations;

  • We’d like to have as many of your students participate in the program as possible, and this is why we are asking schools to let us know what week would suit them best.
  • In terms of a venue, we require a large open space which we can use for students to hear presentations (with AV setup) with tables and chairs for students to complete group work. We can be flexible to work with the existing bookings in the school, or have students complete tasks across multiple rooms after hearing the presentations.
  • We would like to ask students from nearby schools to participate, but this will be dependent on there still being available space after your students have registered for the program (which will be given preference) and if the school is happy for this to occur.

Outside of these questions, illuminate Education will coordinate the program, provide resources and speakers for the program to be a success.

With all of our staff either working in schools or qualified teachers, we recognise that sometimes students can choose not to engage in the content and have a number of adjustments we can make to the program. Facilitators may make amendments to the program to support students engagement, they could present scaffolded templates for students to help them complete the task required of them, or else will engage with the school about the student/s in question to ensure the best outcome can occur. We would like to see every student completes the program and gains some benefit, but recognise this cannot always be the case.

We know that schools have requirements around students participating in program such as this, and this will need to be taken into account. However illuminate Education does request permission for the following;

  • Permission to collect student details (such as names, date of birth, career interest) to track the students in the program and provide details to partners where students have shown an interest in career areas.
  • Permission to take photos during the week and use these for our own purposes, including promoting the program.

Schools will be provided with the relevant permission forms for parents to sign and return to illuminate Education to complete the program, and questions can be directed through the school to illuminate Education.

There are so many definitions and assumptions around who and what an entrepreneur is! At illuminate Education, we recognise that is about skills that the individual has rather than an occupation, and with that in mind believe the following are three integral skills to be an entrepreneur;

  • Self-motivated as they get their drive from within themselves rather than requiring external motivation. In this, we mean that individuals can step out and develop new ideas on their own rather than having someone else suggest and prompt them to do so, or that they can come up with their own pathway rather than needing someone else to be reminding them to do something.
  • Self-confident as they are willing to back themselves to make something happen. In this, we mean that individuals will be confident enough to step out from the crowd and do something different if it needs to be done rather than follow the rest of the crowd.
  • Resilient as they will have to handle being knocked back from time to time. In this, we mean that they can handle the hard situations (such as stress, tight deadlines, team breakdowns, etc.) and persevere towards the outcome in mind rather than giving up.

It is from this understanding that illuminate Education has designed the illuminate:nextgen Challenge and equips all students in these three areas across the program.

If you have any further questions about the illuminate:nextgen Challenge, please contact us directly using the form below.

Contact Us

We’re always eager to hear from people who are interested in what we do – whether you are a school, a potential partner or someone who just wants to get on board with what we do. You can either get in touch with us directly below, or else use the form on this page and we’ll respond to you shortly;

  • Facebook at /illuminateeduau
  • Email directly by contacting Adam
  • Call us or send a text message by phone +61 0438 810 733
  • See us in person through meeting with us in Launceston, Tasmania or when we travel – but please email to organise.

Partners & Supporters

We’ve worked with some great organisations over the years inspiring students across Australia, and you can join them!