Press Release

The 2024 Slingshot Challenge Commences Globally

The National Geographic Society and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation launch second year of global environmental youth challenge

Washington, D.C., September 20, 2023 — The National Geographic Society and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation today announced the opening of the 2024 Slingshot Challenge which works to inspire more youth, ages 13-18 to tackle the planet’s environmental issues. Last year, the Slingshot Challenge reached a global audience with submissions from 80 countries, with nearly 3.5 million engagements on social media, and approximately 10,000 youth and 5,000 educators who signed up for the challenge. The second year of the initiative calls for concepts from the next generation of problem-solvers, advocates, and stewards of the planet with a February 1, 2024 submission deadline..

“As a mentor during the inaugural Slingshot Challenge, I witnessed firsthand the incredible impact it had on inspiring youth to connect with the world around them,” said Young Explorer Andrea (Andy) Villarreal Rodríguez. “These brilliant students are not only profoundly aware of the challenges their communities face, but are determined to find real solutions. Slingshot provides the ideal platform for them to nurture their projects and propel their innovative ideas into tangible action as we shape a brighter future together.”

To participate in the challenge, youth create a one-minute video outlining an innovative solution to an environmental issue they’re passionate about. As demonstrated by the inspiring 2023 Slingshot Challenge award recipients, videos must address one of the challenge’s five topic areas: protect nature, clean the air, restore the ocean, reduce waste, and address climate change. Participants may choose to work individually or as a team of up to six members, but projects will be expected to involve collaboration with peers, stakeholders, and/or local communities.

“Following the wide success of our inaugural year of this global environmental initiative, the National Geographic Society is thrilled to launch the second year of the Slingshot Challenge,” said Dr. Deborah Grayson, chief education officer at the National Geographic Society. “If you want to help protect our planet and have a sustainable solution that falls under one of the five main topic areas of this challenge, then I would really like to see you apply. Brainstorm creative ideas, do your research, and use your voice to become the next young steward tackling our planet’s most pressing environmental issues.”

The Society and the foundation connect participating youth with a global network of National Geographic Explorers, equipping them with solution-finding skills and inspiring them to improve their communities and beyond. This year, participants will continue to learn from members of the Society's Explorers including Markus Martinez Burman and Andrea Villarreal Rodríguez.

“Empowering youth to thrive is a big focus of our portfolio and the Slingshot Challenge encourages this next generation of changemakers to contribute to their own future,” said Cat Martin, Director of Arts & Communities for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “The fresh perspectives and diversity of participants from last year’s challenge gave us so much hope. We must mobilize youth to make an impact, as we develop and implement sustainable and scalable solutions.”

The Society will review all submissions and a panel of experts will select a small number to receive funding of $1,000 or $10,000 to further their journey. Top award recipients will also have the opportunity to attend the Society’s iconic Explorers Festival in June 2024.

Youth who are interested in creating a more sustainable planet through solution-driven and impactful storytelling can sign-up to learn more at the 2024 Slingshot Challenge website and watch the 2023 Slingshot Challenge Award celebration. The challenge closes February 1, 2024.

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 an 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.

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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, LinkedIn, and Facebook.