Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis join Sunny Varkey's Global Student Prize judging panel

The stars join Julie and Zach Ertz and Lady Gaga's mother as members of the celebrity-filled Global Student Prize Academy

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 29: Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center on January 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
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Hollywood actors Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have joined the star-studded judging panel of the new Global Student Prize, which was launched by Dubai resident Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation and Gems Education.

Julie Ertz, US women’s national football team player and two-time World Cup winner, and her husband Zach, a Super Bowl champion who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, are also on the panel.

I'm thrilled that Mila and I can help this cause

The new prize is a $50,000 sister award to the renowned $1 million Global Teacher Prize. It was created as a platform to highlight the efforts of extraordinary students around the world, who are making an impact on learning and the lives of their peers and society.

The celebrities are now members of the Global Student Prize Academy and will pick a final winner, which will be announced live at a ceremony in Paris, France, in November, Covid-19 restrictions permitting.

The winner will be chosen from the top 10 finalists, which will have been narrowed down from a shortlist of 50 names.

Sunny Varkey, founder of Varkey Foundation and Gems Education. Courtesy Global Student Prize
Sunny Varkey, founder of Varkey Foundation and Gems Education. Courtesy Global Student Prize

The closing date for applications and nominations is May 16. Applicants can apply in English, Arabic, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.

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

Why these celebrities?

Kutcher may be known for his role in hare-brained comedies such as Dude, Where's My Car? and as the creator of reality prank show Punk'd, but the actor also has a serious side to him. He is the co-founder of Thorn, a non-profit dedicated to building technology to defend children from sexual abuse.

He also produces Going from Broke, a financial makeover show created to help college students and graduates struggling with debt during the pandemic.

His wife, Kunis, supports charities such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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.”

Kunis also commented: “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."

The Ertzs, meanwhile, launched the Ertz Family Foundation in 2018, which aims to empower others by sharing faith, learning through sports and advancing education to build supportive communities.

Earlier this year, the couple helped provide 600,000 meals to hungry families in Philadelphia.

“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,” said Zach.

Who else is a member of the Global Student Prize Academy?

The film and sport stars join education and NGO leaders who also announced their involvement in the prize today.

This includes Lady Gaga’s mother, Cynthia Germanotta, president of the Born This Way Foundation; Global Teacher Prize winners Ranjitsinh Disale, Andria Zafirakou, Peter Tabichi and Maggie MacDonnell;  Isolda Calsina, the Minister of Education of Jujuy, Argentina; and author Asheesh Advani, president and chief executive of education at Junior Achievement Worldwide, among others.

More appointments to the academy are still to be made.