Miami-Dade County Public Schools Students to Drive Change in their Communities with the Aspen Challenge

February 18, 2020

Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute | 202 909 5720

Daisy Gonzalez-Diego
Chief Communications Officer
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
305 995 2060

20 High School Teams to Create and Implement Original Solutions to the Issues Identified by Students as Most Urgent in their Communities 

Miami, FL, February 18, 2020 — The Aspen Challenge — a program of the Aspen Institute founded in partnership with the Bezos Family Foundation — is teaming up with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) to bring the Aspen Challenge to Miami. Now in its eighth year, the Aspen Challenge is an initiative that has supported change-makers and inspired youth leadership in cities across the United States. It now arrives in a culturally diverse metropolis in partnership with an A-rated school district committed to empowering students to be a voice for change.

A daylong youth leadership development forum on February 25 kicks off this year’s Aspen Challenge. Teams of students and teachers from 20 high schools throughout Miami will hear from leaders pioneering change to current societal issues. These leaders will issue challenges to the students around topics including immigration, climate change, school violence, mental health, and poverty alleviation.

The teams then have eight weeks to create innovative solutions to the challenges and implement their project in their communities. On April 20, teams will reconvene to present their solutions to a panel of judges comprised of community stakeholders in Miami. Three winning teams will be chosen to present their solution in June at the 2020 Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado.

“We felt that the partnership between Aspen Challenge and Miami-Dade County Public Schools was a natural and obvious fit. This district has already shown incredible initiative with encouraging students to create innovative solutions to issues they face through the Superintendent’s Innovation Challenge in 2019,” Katie Fitzgerald, Director of the Aspen Challenge said. “We know the Aspen Challenge teams have the necessary support in place to be set up for success.”

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho firmly believes students hold the key to future community transformation. “Miami-Dade County Public Schools is committed to providing all students with opportunities to leverage their knowledge, skills, and passion and apply them to solve real-world problems. The Aspen Challenge partnership will further empower our students and give them a broader platform to develop and implement their brilliant ideas in our community,” he said.

The Aspen Challenge Opening Forum will take place on Tuesday, February 25 at Jungle Island, one of Miami’s most exciting entertainment destinations. Throughout the all-day event, 20 teams—which consist of eight students and two teachers who act as coaches—will hear from a wide range of leaders including: David Brooks of the New York Times and Weave: The Social Fabric Project, a program of the Aspen Institute; Creative Reaction Lab founder, president and CEO Antoinette Carroll; poet and writer Natasha Carrizosa; M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho; immigrant rights leader and TheDream.US Program Director Gaby Pacheco; and Adrian Solgaard, CEO of the sustainable goods and accessories company Solgaard.

The five challenges being presented were chosen after the Aspen Challenge hosted a community roundtable of Miami-Dade County Public School students in the Fall of 2019, asking the students what issues they feel are most pertinent to their everyday lives. For a complete list of speakers and the latest information about the Aspen Challenge, please visit

Participating Schools:

  • Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High School
  • Dorothy M. Wallace COPE Center (COPE South)
  • Hialeah Senior High School
  • Homestead Senior High School
  • International Studies Preparatory Academy
  • iTech @ Thomas A. Edison Educational Center
  • John A. Ferguson Senior High School
  • José Martí MAST 6-12 Academy
  • Miami Jackson Senior High School
  • Miami Killian Senior High School
  • Miami Lakes Educational Center
  • Miami Norland Senior High School
  • Miami Palmetto Senior High School
  • Miami Springs Senior High School
  • Miami Sunset Senior High School
  • North Miami Beach Senior High School
  • North Miami Senior High School
  • Robert Morgan Educational Center
  • Ronald W. Reagan Doral Senior High School
  • Southwest Miami Senior High School

The inaugural Aspen Challenge launched in collaboration with Los Angeles Unified School District in 2013. Since its inception, the Challenge has expanded to include partnerships with school districts in Denver, Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Louisville. Miami marks the eighth partnership between the Aspen Challenge and cities across the United States. Partnerships last two years, with Louisville currently in its second year, and the Challenge will return to Miami in 2021.


Editor’s Note: Media are invited to attend the Aspen Challenge: Miami Opening Forum. For more information, please contact Jon Purves, Senior Media Relations Manager, Aspen Institute at or call 202-736-2111.

The Aspen Challenge provides inspiration, tools, and a platform for young people to design solutions to some of the most critical problems humanity faces.

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

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), an A-rated district, is the nation’s fourth largest school system with nearly 400 schools and a diverse enrollment of more than 350,000 students from over 160 countries. Our 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 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.

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