Students present inspiring solutions for change created over the eight-week program
Contact: Jon Purves
Associate Director, Media Relations
The Aspen Institute
Miami, FL, April 27, 2022 – The winning student teams of the eight-week Aspen Challenge: Miami were announced at the Solution Showcase on Thursday, April 21, a culminating event in which student creativity, tenacity, collaboration, perseverance, and civic leadership were on full display.
Eighteen teams from Miami-Dade County Public Schools presented bold solutions to combat critical issues within their communities to a panel of judges comprised of local Miami leaders. In the Aspen Challenge’s second and final year in Miami, teams demonstrated many of the skills and attributes necessary to create impactful, sustainable change and addressed real issues in their communities. The grand prize winners were:
- 1st place: American Senior High School (Out LOUD)
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.
- 2nd place: School for Advanced Studies – North (Olympus Academy) In response to Florida International University Chief Scientific Officer Kenneth Furton’s challenge to envision the “school of the future,” the team designed and piloted Olympus Academy, an interest-based curriculum created by students, for students. After surveying their peers to identify popular subjects, Olympus Academy leveraged the expertise of community partners to create three classes for their first “Olympus Academy Day:” Coding, Crafting, and Financial Literacy.
- 3rd place: Hialeah Gardens Senior High School (The SAFE Initiative) In response to Letters to Strangers Founder and Executive Director Diana Chao’s challenge to cultivate inclusive community mental health supports, the team tapped into our connection with animals to establish a non-threatening pathway into conversations about mental health in Miami-Dade County. Consulting with mental health experts, The Safe Initiative created opportunities for community members to interact with support animals and learn more about different therapies available to them by appearing at fairs, at elementary schools, and in the classrooms of their peers.
The first-place team will now travel to Colorado for the Aspen Ideas Festival in June, where they will present their project. The three winning teams also won $36,000 in scholarships. Additionally, Florida International University (FIU) president Kenneth A. Jessell announced during the event that any student on those teams who attends FIU will receive an additional $2,500 annual scholarship.
Additional awards went to four teams: Booker T. Washington Senior High School won the Collaboration Award; Jan Mann Education Center won the Resilience Award; Coral Gables Senior High School won the Originality Award; and Miami Killian Senior High School received the most votes to win the People’s Choice Award. These teams received electronics including tablets and Visa gift cards.
Launched by the Aspen Institute and the Bezos Family Foundation in 2012, the Aspen Challenge provides inspiration, tools, and a platform for young people to address critical issues and become leaders in their communities. In Miami, students and educators embarked on the Aspen Challenge journey on February 24 with a day of inspiration and engagement from cross-sector leaders, including words of encouragement from Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jose L. Dotres, who also attended the Solutions Showcase.
During the Challenge Forum, these leaders challenged Miami students to create solutions for issues including the environment, mental health, poverty alleviation, cyberbullying, and designing the “school of tomorrow.” Teams representing nineteen high schools from across the county accepted one of the five challenges presented and had eight weeks to design solutions that would create a better, more equitable Miami.
Currently in its tenth year, the Aspen Challenge is also currently underway with New Schools for New Orleans in Louisiana, with a Solutions Showcase set to take place on April 28. The Challenge has previously partnered with the Los Angeles Unified Schools District, Denver Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, the School District of Philadelphia, the Dallas Independent School District, Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky.
- American Senior High School
- Barbara Goleman Senior High School
- BioTECH @ Richmond Heights Senior High School
- Booker T. Washington Senior High School
- Coral Gables Senior High School
- Cutler Bay Senior High School
- Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School
- Felix Varela Senior High School
- Hialeah Gardens Senior High School
- J.C. Bermudez Doral Senior High School
- Jan Mann Education Center
- Miami Beach Senior High School
- Miami Carol City Senior High School
- Miami Killian Senior High School
- Miami Northwestern Senior High School
- Miami Sunset Senior High School
- School for Advanced Studies- North
- South Dade Senior High School
For more information on Aspen Challenge: Miami, please contact Jon Purves, Associate Director of Media Relations, Aspen Institute at email@example.com.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) is the nation’s fourth largest school system with nearly 400 schools and a diverse enrollment of more than 330,000 students from over 160 countries. Its ongoing tradition of groundbreaking achievement has earned top recognition at the national and international levels. M-DCPS also recently reached a landmark graduation rate of 89.2 percent. For five decades, M-DCPS has been a leader in school choice, now offering more than 1,000 cutting-edge, award-winning programs designed to prepare students for 21st century learning in the age of innovation and technology. Students and their families play an active role in choosing educational opportunities that foster academic excellence, school-to-career pathways and real-world learning. For more information, visit www.dadeschools.net.