Global Slingshot Challenge empowers young changemakers to champion environmental issues – National Geographic Society Newsroom


Washington, DC – Recognizing that young people are committed to taking action to protect our planet and inspire a more sustainable future, the National Geographic Society and the 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 aimed at young people between the ages of 13 and 18 who are ready to apply their ingenuity to tackle environmental problems.

“We know that young people are natural agents of change. They bring new perspective and hope, something we desperately need to help fix 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 and aspiring entrepreneurs and conservationists with creative and innovative solutions. Younger generations know better than anyone that they will be most affected by our declining environment. We need to elevate their voices and ideas to drive change and inspire us all to do better.

To participate in the challenge, young people are invited to create a one-minute video in English or Spanish describing an innovative solution to an environmental problem they are passionate about. The video must address one of the five themes of the challenge: clean the air, restore the ocean, protect nature, reduce waste and fight 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 an innovative new 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, Director of Education at the National Geographic Society. “I’m excited to see what insights come out of this unique initiative and look forward to hearing more from these bold changemakers.”

As participants develop their solutions, they will be able to connect and learn from members of the Society’s National Geographic Global Explorers Network, including ideation sessions and discussions about the Explorers’ fieldwork. Participating National Geographic Explorers include Markus Martinez Burman, Andrea Villarreal Rodriguez, Sophie Kianniand Kevin J. Patel. Additionally, an Educator’s Toolkit will help teachers assist students in strategy and solution development and provide resources for engaging classes on conservation topics and other environmental issues.

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

For young people passionate about advocating for a more sustainable planet through impactful, solution-focused storytelling, more information, including challenge mechanics and timelines, will be available at The challenge submission period ends on 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 Pacific Northwest communities to enhance the human experience of arts and culture, center underserved populations, and engage youth for impact. Additionally, the foundation supports a global portfolio of nonprofit partners working on 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.


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