The Aspen Challenge, a program that provides tools for young people to design solutions to the world’s most critical issues, brought an inspirational roster of speakers to Chicago to challenge high schoolers to solve problems in their communities.
Speakers included Chicago poet Harold Green, actor LaRoyce Hawkins, former NFL player Israel Idonjie, and priest and activist Reverend Michael L. Pfleger, among others. Five speakers issued challenges for the students to solve. The teams have eight weeks to design a solution that tackles one of the challenges.
Below, watch the challenges issued to students at the opening forum of the Aspen Challenge Chicago.
Joan Haug is chief of staff to the CEO and founder of the Kitchen Community, which works to bring “learning gardens” where students grow vegetables and other plants to schools in underserved communities. Haug asked students to break junk food cycles by empowering themselves, their peers, and their families to understand, cook, and eat real food.
Danielle Lee, a scientist, 2015 Ted Fellow, and White House Champion of Change in STEM Diversity and Access went revolutionary: She challenged students to “spark a science inquiry revolution” and ignite a passion for science that is personal, relevant, important, and informative for students and their communities.
Longtime Chicago news anchor and journalist Robin Robinson challenged students to design a process that brings young people, especially young people of color, into authentic relationships with law enforcement to create safe, more peaceful neighborhoods together.
What would it look like if students came up with a method to not only prevent acts of violence, but also engage people in peaceful processes to prevent and eradicate violence entirely? Chico Tillmon, a program manager for CeaseFire Illinois / Cure Violence, asked those in attendance to find out.
Daniel Rogers is CEO and co-founder of A.M. Money, a financial lending company that considers the career potential of the student over the credit history of the co-signer, wants students to empower their peers to understand the financial systems that govern their lives and implement a method for using it to their benefit.
The students will form teams, pick challenges to tackle, and come back together to present their work to a panel of judges. The judges decide on the top teams based on their creativity, feasibility, sustainability, and teamwork, and those teams will be invited to present their projects at the 2017 Aspen Ideas Festival, taking place from June 22 to July 1.