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Empowering Young Conservationists: Announcing the 2024 Global Slingshot Challenge Award Recipients

Partner Release — May 08 2024

Thousands of young innovators from 87 countries submitted to the second annual environmental youth challenge, presented by the National Geographic Society and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation

An app to minimize household food waste, a tree-planting robot, and programs to save a rare bird and the bees — these are just some of the solutions from the second year of the Slingshot Challenge, a global call for youth ages 13-18 to propose solutions to the planet’s environmental problems. Announced today by the National Geographic Society and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, five Top Honors submissions will receive $10,000 each and ten Significant Achievement submissions will receive $1,000 each to advance their projects and continue to explore big ideas.

"We’re thrilled to support these bold, young leaders as they aim to have a positive impact on the environment,” said Dr. Deborah Grayson, chief education officer at the National Geographic Society. “As environmental champions, they teach us how to be positive changemakers by bringing fresh perspectives to our communities and creating lasting change for our planet.”

Learn more about each award recipient by downloading their submission videos, photos and bios here.

The 2024 Slingshot Challenge received 2,134 one-minute video submissions from 87 countries. Between innovative uses of AI (artificial intelligence) and technology to detect and solve environmental problems to pitching community-driven awareness campaigns, the submissions proved that the explorer mindset is alive and well in this next generation of changemakers. Five Top Honors Award Recipients, noted below, stood out for their notably inquisitive drive to seek knowledge and think critically. These submissions join Slingshot Challenge award recipient alumni in receiving support and funding.

Mazah: Food Waste Fighting App, Noga Gercsak, Gabrielle Gervacio, Shradha Bista, Riya Zingade, Ishika Meel, Prithika Venkatesh; Switzerland, U.S., Hong Kong: Developed an app that tracks food expiration dates & offers recipes to prevent household food waste. 

TERRABOX, Chidiebere Anigbogu, Nigeria: Created a STEM kit that empowers children to explore clean and renewable energy through play and creativity. Semilla de Esperanza (Seed of Hope), Ulises Yael Texta Ponce, Wiliam Artemio Texta Ponce, Diana Paola Ponce Nava, Perla Karina Ponce G√≥mez, Sasha Enriquez; Mexico: Protects the endangered green macaw through monitoring, reforestation, and community education.

Trovador, Marta Bernardino, Portugal: Deploys a tree-planting robot to help reforest land devastated by wildfires in the mountains of Portugal.

Urban Pollinators, Evelyn Pinot, Mexico: Built the first registry of native pollinator plants in Tapachula and created a thriving haven for urban pollinators.

All awardees are invited to participate in National Geographic Society’s annual Explorers Festival in June, at which two additional awards will be announced: the Explorer Connection Award, given to the submission that draws the best connection to the work of a National Geographic Explorer, and the People’s Choice Award, given to the submission that receives the most votes from the general public. Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open until May 31, 2024 and can be accessed here.

“A better future starts with empowering the next generation,” said Lara Littlefield, executive director of partnerships and programs at the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “The Slingshot Challenge represents our belief that youth are the key to unlocking new opportunities in conservation. We are confident that a global community of changemakers can stare down and conquer the environmental challenges that define our times.”

Spanning nine countries and four continents, the Significant Achievement Award Recipients demonstrated a desire to make a positive impact — evidenced by their proposals to educate community members through virtual reality experiences, share soundscapes of wetland areas, monitor ocean health, restore vulnerable ecosystems, uplift young researchers and develop eco-friendly products. The awardees took a close look at their communities, identified problems and designed innovative solutions — showing how to implement what they learned along the way into tangible actions for protecting our planet and its people.

Around the world, Slingshot Challenge alumni and community members are inspiring people to learn about, care for and act on behalf of the planet. Since its inauguration in 2023, funding has helped recipients develop prototypes, raise awareness for environmental issues, launch initiatives and connect others globally with a common goal: to make the world a better place.

Additionally, and in the spirit of supporting as many outstanding ideas as possible, the National Geographic Society and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation are teaming up for a third year of the challenge — kicking off in the fall of 2024. Interested teens and educators can sign up now to receive updates here.

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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, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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