Learn more about each winner by downloading their submission videos, photos, and bios here.
Washington, D.C., May 5, 2023 — Today, the National Geographic Society and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation announced the winners of the inaugural global Slingshot Challenge. The initiative challenged youth, ages 13-18 years, to create a one-minute video depicting a solution to the planet’s environmental problems. After reviewing more than 1,800 submissions from across 80 countries, selecting the 15 finalists, and conducting a popular vote with the public, the winners will receive a $10,000 cash prize. Each winner will also select an educator or nonprofit that supported their submission to receive an additional $2,000.
“We are thrilled to announce the winners of the Slingshot Challenge who thoroughly impressed our panel of judges with their creativity and thoughtful approaches to solving urgent environmental challenges,” said National Geographic Society CEO Jill Tiefenthaler. “These young people have the ingenuity, tenacity, and insatiable drive to seek sustainable solutions that will help to ‘slingshot’ our planet forward. We look forward to celebrating them at our Base Camp headquarters in June!”
The Slingshot Challenge winners were determined by an expert panel of judges, which included National Geographic Explorers Ved Chirayath, Manar Elkebir, Sandra Turner, and Diana Zendejo. The winners are:
Abdullah Shahid: Resolving the Plight of Smog; Lahore, Pakistan
Kayla Ling: No Waste Nation; Hillsborough, CA, USA
Regina Gutiérrez: Foresta Vivero; San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Soren Goldsmith: Save the Forests; Lexington, Massachusetts, USA
Ayomide Alagbe, Mercy Ojotola, Naimat Lukman, Nancy Nkili, Oluwaseyi Aina: Our Environment, Our Responsibility; New Bussa, Nigeria
“These winners represent hope for our future as they apply their fresh perspective to the mounting environmental issues of our day,” said Lara Littlefield, executive director for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “It has been inspiring to see so many thoughtful ideas submitted by youth from all corners of the globe. As these young people network with other entrepreneurs and environmental champions, we are confident this assembly of eco-innovators will create lasting change for our planet.”
In addition to announcing the overall winners of the challenge, the results of the popular vote were also revealed. Among the pool of 15 finalists, Resolving the Plight of Smog from Pakistan won the People’s Choice Award after securing the most votes during the April 21-28, 2023 voting period. This June, the winners will be invited to attend the National Geographic Society’s Explorers Festival at its Base Camp in Washington, D.C., where they’ll meet Explorers, extend and strengthen their ideas, and join forces with like-minded youth to create on-going, real-world impact.
“I am tremendously proud of each of these young leaders for their creativity, determination, and optimism and thrilled to see them selected as Slingshot Challenge winners,” said Dr. Deborah Grayson, chief education officer at the National Geographic Society. “With their knowledge, they bring the Society’s mission to life and help inspire positive transformative change. I look forward to seeing how each of their unique projects evolve and engage audiences around the globe.”
Click here to download the video featuring the winners.
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.
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.