How It Works

The Aspen Challenge builds 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 by the Aspen Institute and the Bezos Family Foundation, Aspen Challenge participants are empowered to use their imagination, enthusiasm, competitive spirit, and sense of global citizenship to solve some of society’s toughest problems.

Each year, we partner with an urban school district to bring the Aspen Challenge to a new city. Twenty schools are invited to participate, and each high school forms a team of 8 students and 2 educators who serve as coaches. Our participants take the following steps to complete the Aspen Challenge:

Build Empathy

Prepare for positive teamwork and for the design experience. Learn about your community.

Get Inspired

Teams gather at the Challenge Forum to hear from leading thinkers who tackle some of our world’s toughest problems. These leaders pose challenges to the teams, asking them to create innovative solutions for their communities.

Design a Solution

Teams have one week to select the challenge of their choice, draft their vision, and set goals. Teams are guided to pick challenges based on passion, relevance, feasibility, and sustainability.

Give the Solution a Voice

Teams are coached to develop a brand identity and messaging to pitch their solution to community stakeholders.

Outreach and Community Engagement

Teams put their work into action by engaging their communities through events, surveys, and media outreach.

Present and Compete

Teams present their solutions to a panel of distinguished judges who select top teams based on creativity, feasibility, sustainability, and teamwork.

Reflect and Grow

Post Solution Showcase, teams participate in a reflection meeting with Aspen Institute staff that serves as an inflection point on individual and collective leadership development.