Creativity, tenacity, collaboration, perseverance, leadership – this is just a glimpse into the skills and attributes it took to create impactful, sustainable change and become a winning team at the Aspen Challenge Louisville competition. On April 17th at the Muhammad Ali Center, three teams, Jeffersontown High School, Central High School Magnet Career Academy, and duPont Manual High School created solutions bold enough to earn a place on the Aspen Ideas Festival stage.
Taking on Jeffrey Rosen’s challenge to foster civic participation around constitutional issues, Central High School created a forum that would engage their community in conversation. Their first forum addressed police brutality and Miranda rights, and on deck are topics such as women’s rights and sexual assault, voting rights, and freedom of speech in school. They also created a website and began designing an app that would further educate community members.
Jeffersontown High School chose Jenara Nerenberg’s challenge to remove the stigma around mental health. They created a podcast called “The Umbrella of No Judgement” through which students can anonymously share their stories pertaining to mental health. Throughout their school building, they also displayed positive messages and affirmation boards.
The duPont Manual High School team took on Wajahat Ali’s challenge to integrate and celebrate Louisville’s immigrant communities. After discovering that many immigrants and refugees struggle to find safe, reliable, and affordable transportation, they created an app that utilizes existing ride-share platforms to provide free transportation to these communities. From interviews to grocery shopping, immigrants will no longer face the same geographic and logistical barriers to accessing the full city.
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. In Louisville, 135 students’ Aspen Challenge journey began in February with a day of inspiration and engagement from cross-sector leaders. During the Opening Forum, these leaders challenged Louisville students to create solutions for issues including health inequities, air pollution, and immigrant communities. Teams representing 17 schools across the city accepted one of the six presented challenges, and had eight weeks to design solutions that would create a better, more equitable Louisville. They then presented their solutions to a panel of judges, with the top three teams earning an all-expense paid trip to present at Aspen Ideas Festival, the Aspen Institute’s annual flagship gathering of global leaders, influencers, and entrepreneurs in Aspen, CO.
Additional awards were presented to teams from Southern High School for People’s Choice and Originality, Georgia Chaffee Teenage Parent Program for Resilience, and Iroquois High School for Collaboration. In partnership with IDEAS xLab, the teams from Marion C. Moore School and J. Graham Brown High School won the Creative Placehealing Award and will present at the Derby Diversity & Business Summit in Louisville.
Currently in its seventh year, the Aspen Challenge has previously partnered with the Los Angeles Unified Schools District, Denver Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, and the School District of Philadelphia. In addition to Louisville, the Aspen Challenge is also partnering with Dallas Independent School District in Dallas, Texas, this year.