April 27, 2016, Chicago, IL – Three groups of inspiring students from Roberto Clemente Community Academy, Roald Amundsen High School, and Lindblom Math & Science Academy of Chicago Public School claimed the top prizes during the Aspen Challenge competition in Chicago on April 27 at Soldier Field. Judges awarded the winning teams an all-expenses-paid opportunity to attend and present at the 2016 Aspen Ideas Festival, an acclaimed gathering of global leaders, policymakers and entrepreneurs taking place in June.  

Launched by the Aspen Institute and the Bezos Family Foundation and implemented in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, this is the citywide competition’s first year in Chicago. It began in March with an all-day forum where leaders, who are pioneering change to pressing world issues, presented the teams with unique challenges. Teams then had seven weeks to design a solution to a challenge topic of their choice.

Roald Amundsen High School’s team Starry Chicago designed a program that educates the community about the importance of preserving the night sky and that advocates for dark-sky friendly policies in order to mitigate the harmful effects of light pollution. The students drafted an ordinance for the city that mandates special light fixtures to reduce light pollution and are continuing with city officials to reduce unnecessary light pollution. They educate people about the night sky on their website starrychicago.org.

Lindblom Math and Science Academy’s team MoneyLYFE (Leading Youth in Financial Education) acts as a bridge for youth to understand the banking world and conducts bank fairs, infomercials, and promotional activities to improve its community’s financial decision-making processes. They also built a website — moneylyfe.com — that educates low income communities about the value of saving money.

Roberto Clemente Community Academy’s team Unify Division works to unify the divide between the neighborhoods of Chicago and abolish the stereotypes that hinder the city from functioning to its fullest potential. They’re organizing a community event to bring two distinct neighborhoods — Humbolt Park and Wicker Park — together in May.

 
As a result of my participation in MoneyLYFE, I now see the importance of community work.” Said Gabriela Morales of Lindblom Math and Science Academy. “And the impact my team had on the community of Englewood was a huge one. We had residents switch over to checking accounts after so many years of cashing their checks at Currency Exchanges.
 

Judges presented additional awards to teams from Frederick A. Douglass High School (Impact Award), Northside College Preparatory High School (Best Exhibit) and Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (Team Spirit). In addition, the People’s Choice Award, selected by Aspen Challenge participants, went to the team from Infinity High School of Math, Science and Technology.  

Currently in its fourth year, the Aspen Challenge has partnered with Los Angeles Unified School District, Denver Public Schools, DC Public Schools, DC Public Charter School Board, and now Chicago Public Schools. The program aims to establish additional partnerships with public school districts in cities across the country in the years to come and looks forward to partnering with the School District of Philadelphia in 2017