National Geographic Society Newsroom Press Releases

Global Slingshot Challenge Empowers Young Changemakers to Champion Environmental Issues

Partnership between the National Geographic Society and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation focuses on voices of youth

Washington, D.C. — Recognizing that young people are committed to taking action to protect our planet and inspire a more sustainable future, the National Geographic Society and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation today launched the Slingshot Challenge. This initiative is designed to empower the next generation of problem solvers, advocates, and stewards of the planet. The challenge, which opens today, is intended for youth between the ages of 13-18 years old who are ready to apply their ingenuity to tackle environmental issues.

“We know youth are natural changemakers. They bring fresh perspective and hope, something desperately needed to help repair our planet,” said Lara Littlefield, Executive Director on behalf of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “Inspired by The Earthshot Prize, also funded in part by the foundation, we are confident that the Slingshot Challenge will support thoughtful, budding entrepreneurs and environmental advocates with creative and innovative solutions. Younger generations know better than anybody that they will be most impacted by our declining environment. We need to elevate their voices and ideas to drive change and inspire us all to do better.”

To enter the challenge, youth are asked to create a one-minute video in English or Spanish outlining an innovative solution to an environmental issue they’re passionate about. The video must address one of the challenge’s five topic areas: clean the air, restore the ocean, protect nature, reduce waste, and address climate change.

“At the National Geographic Society, we are committed to fostering a more inclusive and sustainable planet, and I believe that starts with our youth. The Slingshot Challenge is a new, innovative way for young people to engage with environmental issues that are important to them, and identify solutions to make our world a better place,” said Dr. Deborah Grayson, Chief Education Officer at the National Geographic Society. “I’m excited to see what ideas arise from this unique initiative and am eager to learn more from these audacious changemakers.” 

As participants develop their solutions, they will be able to connect with and learn from members of the Society’s global network of National Geographic Explorers, including ideation sessions and discussions about the Explorers’ fieldwork. Participating National Geographic Explorers include Markus Martinez Burman, Andrea Villarreal Rodríguez, Sophia Kianni, and Kevin J. Patel. In addition, an educator’s toolkit will help teachers assist students in the strategy and development of their solution and provide resources to engage classrooms on the topics of conservation and other environmental issues. 

In this first year, the Slingshot Challenge will award five winning submissions with a $10,000 cash prize and the opportunity to select an educator or nonprofit organization that has inspired them to receive $2,000. The next 10 finalists will also receive a cash prize of $1,000. 

For young people with a passion to advocate for a more sustainable planet through solution-driven and impactful storytelling, more information, including challenge mechanics and timing will be available at www.slingshotchallenge.org. The challenge submission period closes February 24, 2023.

About the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation

Founded in 1988 by philanthropists Jody Allen and the late Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation invests in communities across the Pacific Northwest to enhance the human experience of arts & culture, center under-served populations, and mobilize young people to make impact. In addition, the foundation supports a global portfolio of nonprofit partners working across science and technology solutions to protect wildlife, preserve ocean health, and create lasting change. The foundation also funds the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, which works to advance cutting-edge research in all areas of bioscience.

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.