The Aspen Challenge strives to build future generations of engaged and equitable leaders by providing tools and a platform for young people to play critical roles in identifying, designing, and implementing solutions to their community’s biggest needs.
Launched in a new U.S. city each year, the Aspen Challenge begins with a forum for students and teachers from partner high schools. At the forum, leaders pioneering change to some of the world’s most pressing issues present challenges to the teams. Equipped with tools and support, teams then design a solution to their selected challenge. Eight weeks later, they present their solutions on stage in a daylong competition, and teams are selected to advance and showcase their work at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
In 2022, the Aspen Challenged partnered with New Orleans and Miami. Read more about the winning teams below:
Krewe Du Cypress, Benjamin Franklin High School at Katherine Johnson Campus
Topic area: Environment
In response to the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice’s Dr. Beverly Wright’s challenge to educate their peers in an effort to combat the climate crisis, Krewe Du Cypress from Benjamin Franklin High School created an awareness campaign driven by art installations and murals that reminds New Orleans citizens of the height of the water line caused by Hurricane Katrina’s flooding of their city in 2005. The water lines are accompanied by QR codes that people can use to access a website with detailed information about how to get involved in community work to prevent future natural disasters fueled by climate change, including their own effort to plant cypress trees along major roadways.
Operation Hope 4 NOLA, Frederick A. Douglass High School
Topic area: Violence Prevention
In response to author Marlon Peterson’s challenge to create a counternarrative to outside perceptions seeking to define New Orleans by its violence, the team at Frederick A. Douglass launched a series of community based events that showcase the vibrancy and love of its city’s culture, most notably a pop-up event featuring teen entrepreneurs and artisans from Orleans Parish. The team plans to host future pop-up events in and around the city in hopes that attendees walk away knowing that the young people of New Orleans are creative, hardworking, and in tune with the soul of their city.
Love in Action, The NET Charter High School: Central City
Topic area: Mental Health
In response to the Born This Way Foundation’s Taylor Parker’s challenge to spread kindness in order to improve the collective mental health of New Orleans, Central City’s team led a network-wide campaign to promote empathy and change the way that students see themselves. In addition to establishing an ongoing letter-writing campaign between students at their school and Louisiana’s incarcerated, Central City founded a mentoring program for middle school students at their partner middle school and filmed a documentary showcasing the beauty of young people in New Orleans.
Out LOUD, American Senior High School
Topic area: Poverty Alleviation
In response to United Way Miami CEO and President Joe Zubizarreta’s challenge to make theirs the last ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) generation, the team endeavored to make the cost of childcare in Miami-Dade County transparent in order to better connect working families to affordable daycare options that make their budgets more livable and less stressful. Out LOUD reached out to over 60 childcare centers in their immediate community to audit cost and quality, and created a website and grassroots outreach campaign to give families real, detailed information about the options available to them.