Aspen Challenge Returns to New Orleans, Empowering Students to Drive Change in their Communities

January 24, 2023

On February 2, teams from 19 Orleans Parish High Schools will be inspired by leaders to innovate solutions for their communities.

Contact: Ben Berliner
The Aspen Institute

New Orleans, LA, January 24, 2023 – The Aspen Challenge, a program of the Aspen Institute, founded with the Bezos Family Foundation, is returning to New Orleans for its second year with events and programming for 19 high schools throughout the Orleans Parish. The Aspen Challenge provides inspiration, tools, and a platform for young people to design solutions to some of the most critical problems humanity faces.

In partnership with New Schools for New Orleans, Aspen Challenge: New Orleans will kick off with a daylong youth leadership development forum on Thursday, February 2 at the University of New Orleans. Teams of students and educators will hear from an array of “Expert Challengers,” leaders and thinkers who will present a series of challenges to the students on topics ranging from violence prevention to housing accessibility. 

Expert Challengers and speakers include Mayor LaToya Cantrell, City of New Orleans; Colman Joyce, Associate Vice President, University of New Orleans; Colette Pichon Battle, Partner, Vision & Initiatives, Taproot Earth; Cashauna Hill, Executive Director, Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center; Ron Mclain, Executive Director, The Institute of Mental Hygiene of the City of New Orleans community organizer and youth developer, presenting on postsecondary opportunities, with more to be announced.

“We are thrilled to be back in New Orleans for our second year conducting the Aspen Challenge,” said Katie Fitzgerald, Managing Director of the program. “The depth and impact of the solutions students created in New Orleans in 2022 was remarkable. We are excited to see what the young people participating in the program will create in 2023.”

After the Challenge Forum on February 2, teams will have 10 weeks to create innovative solutions to the challenges, implementing their projects in their chosen communities. On April 6, teams will reconvene to present their solutions to a panel of judges during the program-culminating Solution Showcase. One winning team will be chosen as the Grand Prize winner of Aspen Challenge: New Orleans and will be flown to Aspen, Colorado to present their community solution at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June. Other awards will include schoolroom tech and other items to be announced.

“In a time when we needed it the most, the Aspen Challenge brought joy, creativity, and hope back to our students in New Orleans,” said Daniel Meekins, Director of Leadership Programming at New Schools for New Orleans. “As one coach said last year, ‘they just needed the permission to go,’ and students ran with it. We are incredibly excited to have the Challenge return to New Orleans, and we know our students will build on the impactful and creative solutions of last year’s competition. The Aspen Institute and the Bezos Family Foundation have been incredible to work with; we are grateful for this opportunity and thrilled that our young people again have this chance to showcase their talent and skills while learning and collaborating to create lasting, positive change in our city. I can’t wait to see what the future holds and how our greater New Orleans community can support these initiatives.”

Aspen Challenge: New Orleans Challenge Forum will take place at the University of New Orleans on Thursday, February 2. Throughout the daylong event, 19 teams consisting of eight students and two teachers who act as coaches—will hear from a wide range of leaders. The five challenges being presented were chosen after the Aspen Institute hosted focus groups with high school students enrolled in Orleans Parish high schools where young people spoke of the issues they feel are most pertinent to their everyday lives. For complete information on the event, including the day’s agenda, please visit:

Participating Schools:

  • Booker T. Washington High School
  • Eleanor McMain Secondary School
  • G.W. Carver High School
  • International High School of New Orleans
  • John F. Kennedy High School
  • Living School
  • Livingston Collegiate Academy
  • McDonogh 35 Senior High School
  • Morris Jeff Community School
  • New Harmony High School
  • New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School (Sci High)
  • New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy
  • Rooted School
  • Rosenwald Collegiate Academy
  • Sarah T. Reed High School
  • Sophie B. Wright High School
  • Walter L. Cohen College Prep High School
  • Warren Easton Charter High School
  • The NET Charter High School: Gentilly

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, Louisville, Miami, New Orleans, and Brooklyn.


For more information on Aspen Challenge: New Orleans or to attend as a covering member of the media, please contact Ben Berliner:

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

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, please visit

New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) has a mission to deliver on the promise of excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans. NSNO focuses on solutions addressing citywide education talent, instructional quality, policy, and communications. NSNO prioritizes work around race, equity, and inclusiveness within each of their priorities. For more information on NSNO, please visit


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