Aspen Challenge: San Diego Winning Students Chosen to Attend Aspen Ideas Festival

May 1, 2024

Three winning teams of students from Madison High School, Mira Mesa High School, and the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts will receive an all-expense paid trip to present their projects at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Contact: Eric Baker
Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute

San Diego, CA, May 1, 2024 – The winner of Aspen Challenge: San Diego was announced on Wednesday. Nineteen local San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) high schools’ teams of students presented their innovative and creative solutions to issues areas the students themselves identified as plight in their community. The issue areas included: school attendance and equity, climate change, immigration, mental health, and housing.  At the Solutions Showcase, teams each presented their proposed solutions they have been working on for ten weeks and held a standing exhibit fair in which judges and other schools could see their research. 

After the presentation and fair, a panel of local judges awarded the winning three teams an all-expense paid trip to present at the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Aspen Institute’s annual flagship gathering of global leaders, influencers, and entrepreneurs in Aspen, CO. 

Grand prize winners:

  • Madison High School’s project “SPORK,” created multiple pathways for reducing the consumption of single-use plastics in their community by improving the recycling habits of their peers through a public awareness campaign, seeking and confirming commitments from local restaurants to use a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic utensils, and partnering with high schools across the border in Tijuana to replicate their work internationally.
  • Mira Mesa High School, team “SGWB (Student Guide to Well-Being),” established inclusive spaces for their peers to have honest conversations about mental health by designing a youth-driven web platform filled with resources and connections to community support, leveraging in-person events and workshops to drive traffic to their site and guarantee its use.
  • San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts addressed chronic school absenteeism in their community by identifying the major causes of absenteeism among their peers. Lack of transportation access and unaddressed mental health concerns contributed most to chronic absenteeism at their school. Their solution, “LEO (Learning Excellence Outreach),” aimed to target both. Students lobbied SDUSD to add buses to their school’s fleet and forged district-sanctioned partnerships with local universities to bring psychology and social work graduate students to their schools to begin working with their student body.

Three other school received recognition for originality, collaboration, and resilience. The three schools were Mt. Everest Academy, Crawford High School, and Hoover High School respectively. Mission Bay High School received the People’s Choice Award, voted on by their peers from the other schools.

Launched by the Aspen Institute and 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. This was San Diego’s first of two years hosting the Challenge. During the Challenge Forum in February, local activists, government officials, and nonprofit professionals challenged the San Diego students to create solutions that were attainable, sustainable, and directly addressed one or more of the challenge issues.

Participating Schools:

  • Canyon Hills High School
  • Clairemont High School
  • Crawford High School
  • Patrick Henry High School
  • Hoover High School
  • Lincoln High School
  • Madison High School
  • Mira Mesa High School
  • Mission Bay High School
  • Morse High School
  • Mt. Everest Academy
  • Point Loma High School
  • San Diego High School
  • San Diego Metropolitan Regional and Technical High School
  • San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts
  • San Diego SOAR Academy- Youth Transition Campus
  • Scripps Ranch High School
  • Twain Hoover High School
  • University City High School


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 whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit

San Diego Unified School District: As the second-largest school district in California, the San Diego Unified School District serves more than 100,000 students, including infant, pre-school, transitional kindergarten through grade 12, and adult programs. The students and families of the San Diego community represent more than 163 countries and bring the richness of more than 60 languages and dialects; approximately 20% of its students are multilingual. The diversity of the student population includes 47% Latinx, 23% White, 10% Black, 8% Asian, and 5% Filipino. The San Diego Unified School District is proud to call itself one of the top large urban school districts in the United States due to its commitments to racial and social justice, technology, curriculum, neighborhood and specialty schools, career-technical education, and food services. Learn more at

The Bezos Family Foundation envisions a world in which all young people reach their full potential and meaningfully contribute to society. The Foundation pursues that vision by making grants and by operating their own programs, with the aim of fueling the science of learning and enabling its application in a variety of settings. The Foundation’s mission is to invest in the science of learning and the experiences that youth need from birth to high school to pursue their own path for success. For more information, visit

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