Students recognized for rising to the challenge with innovative solutions to pressing issues
Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Associate
202 736 2111 | Jon.Purves@aspeninstitute.org
Dallas, TX, April 5, 2019 — Dallas Independent School District students have once again earned the opportunity to present at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival. Knights MPowering, the team from Justin F. Kimball High School, claimed first place at the Aspen Challenge Dallas competition at the Briscoe Center on March 28th for their plan to empower students to advocate for their education in the face of shortages of qualified teachers, and to play a role in combating teacher turnover. This innovative solution answers Citizen University founder and CEO Eric Liu’s challenge to organize young people to practice civic power, and it wins the team an all-expense paid trip to present at the Aspen Institute’s annual flagship gathering of global leaders, influencers, and entrepreneurs in Aspen, CO.
The second-place award went to the Woodrow Wilson High School team, which is providing hygiene products to women facing homelessness in order to combat health inequity. Skyline High School took third place with the creation of a resource fair for minority and immigrant community members.
Launched by the Aspen Institute and Bezos Family Foundation in 2012 and implemented in partnership with the Dallas Independent School District in 2018 and 2019, the Aspen Challenge provides inspiration, tools, and a platform for young people to address critical issues and become leaders in their communities. In Dallas, 150 students’ Aspen Challenge journey began in February with a day of inspiration and engagement from cross-sector leaders. During the Opening Forum, these local and national leaders challenged Dallas students to become leaders in their own community. Teams representing 19 schools across the city accepted one of the five presented challenges, sparking an eight-week journey during which each team designed solutions that would better their community.
Top Three Solutions
Justin F. Kimball High School’s team Knights MPowering empowers students to advocate for their education while promoting student accountability to retain good teachers.
Woodrow Wilson High School’s team Wildcats on Wheels provides hygiene products to women facing homelessness as a way to respect each person’s dignity and promote healthy communities.
Skyline High School’s team RESILIENCE (Reaching Equitable Solutions Involving Lives of Immigrants Entering New Communities Everyday) empowers minorities and immigrants by creating a One Stop Shop Community Resource Fair that will connect them to the people, places, and resources that enable them to build successful lives and enrich their community.
“You can have a million ideas, but you don’t necessarily know how to implement them,” said Ginny Mendez, a junior at Sunset High School. “The Aspen Challenge helped me understand how change happens and how to organize it.”
Remarked Bryan Baldomero, a senior at Bryan Adams High School: “This experience has taught me that there’s people out there who actually care about what we’re doing. They want us to change the world, and they don’t care that we’re teenagers. They want to hear our opinion and our voice.”
Additional awards were presented to teams from Emmett J. Conrad High School for People’s Choice, North Dallas High School for Resilience, David W. Carter High School for Originality, and Bryan Adams High School for Collaboration.
“The experience has taught me a lot about leadership,” said Woodrow Wilson High School senior Ellie Overman. “It gave me a lot of confidence to see what young people can accomplish. I didn’t believe in myself at all before this. Seeing that when you come together with other people, you can make a change. Compassion and working hard really does make a difference.”
Currently in its seventh year, the Aspen Challenge has previously partnered with the Los Angeles Unified Schools District, Denver Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, and the School District of Philadelphia. In addition to Dallas, the Aspen Challenge is also partnering with Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky this year.
Participating High Schools
Bryan Adams High School
David W. Carter High School
Emmett J. Conrad High School
Franklin D. Roosevelt High School
Grady Spruce High School
Hillcrest High School
Justin F. Kimball High School
L.G. Pinkston High School
Moises E. Molina High School
North Dallas High School
Seagoville High School
Skyline High School
South Oak Cliff High School
Sunset High School
Thomas Jefferson High School
W.H. Adamson High School
W.T. White High School
Wilmer-Hutchins High School
Woodrow Wilson High School
The Aspen Challenge, a program of The Aspen Institute presented in partnership with the Bezos Family Foundation, provides a platform, inspiration and tools for young people to design solutions to some of the most critical and complicated problems we face. For more information, please visit aspenchallenge.org
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, D.C.; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.