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The BCIL IMPACT CHALLENGE engages Middle and Upper School students with real-world challenges posed by professionals from a wide range of fields. Select students enjoy a range of BCIL support including coaching and collaboration with experts and youth leaders from across the country.

Environmental Refugee Crisis April 2023


The Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership is partnering with the United Nations in asking students to identify a challenge related to the increasing numbers of environmental refugees and propose a solution. Communities in the US and around the world are experiencing more severe and unpredictable weather patterns, natural disasters, changing local ecologies, and rising temperatures and sea levels. These environmental changes are expected to displace millions in the next few decades. Alongside this new reality are conversations regarding resource management, infrastructural planning, economics, and human rights, raising questions about how to prevent, minimize, and manage physical damage, send and distribute aid, rebuild, and integrate refugees into new communities.  

BCIL Impact Challenge: We ask students to consider these questions and propose innovative solutions to challenges related to supporting environmental refugees. Environmental refugees are legally defined as those displaced from their communities by climate change. They are often an invisible group who are not legally recognized as refugees internationally, which limits their access to certain rights and aid systems. We look forward to hearing your ideas!

Identify a challenge related to the growing numbers of environmental refugees and propose a solution. 

Winning Entries will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to members of the UN who focus on how climate change affects communities around the world, as well as receive a complementary experience.

Past Challenges

Space Exploration


The Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership is partnering with POSSUM-13  in asking students to imagine the future of space exploration.

Identify a challenge related to expanded space exploration and propose a solution.


Humane Technology


Social media has positively impacted our world through platforms that raise and mobilize community voices, increase access to educational and employment opportunities, and build greater global connections. For this Impact Challenge, however, we ask students to consider the harms and consequences of technology. 

Watch a compilation video of the winning entries

Challenge: Identify a challenge related to the humane and healthy use of technology and propose a solution that advances systemic change.

Vaccine Distribution


As hundreds of thousands of new COVID-19 infections are reported daily in the United States, a safe and effective vaccine seems like the greatest promise of ending this pandemic.  Yet, the approval of a vaccine represents only the first step to another national challenge: successfully distributing an effective vaccine to the American public.

Watch a compilation video of the winning entries

Challenge: Identify a challenge related to the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine and propose a solution.

Increase Voter Participation


Despite political differences, Americans generally agree that democratic ideals and values are important to the United States. Our democracy is based on the premise that the people are governed by officials who represent their interests. Yet, with only 55.7% of eligible voters participating in the 2016 elections, the US regularly trails most developed countries in voter turnout. 

Challenge: Create a campaign that encourages and inspires people to vote. 

Life During a Pandemic


In the United States and in countries around the globe, COVID-19 and the subsequent need for social distancing to slow its spread have affected people of every age, community, and occupation. For this challenge, we are asking students to come together and consider the myriad of challenges stemming from life in the time of a pandemic. 

Challenge #1: Address the effects of panic buying and mass congregating at markets while ensuring proper sanitation and the availability of food, medicine, and other essential resources.
Challenge #2: Leverage the power of 3D printing to improve peoples’ lives during the pandemic. 

Building Inclusive Cities of the Future 


Many urban areas around the country are experiencing dramatic economic and demographic shifts. This challenge asks students to consider how we can build inclusive cities of the future.

Challenge: Expand access to quality health care, education, housing, transportation, and entertainment in historically underserved neighborhoods while honoring local culture and resident voice. 

Food Injustice

Food Equity Speakers for BCIL Speaking to Students


Communities around the country lack access to healthy, fresh, and affordable food, prompting calls for change from community activists. Food injustice disproportionately affects communities of color, and leads to a long list of preventable diseases. This challenge asks students to consider how communities can expand access to healthy food.

Challenge: Mobilize local resources and networks to bring awareness to and address issues of food injustice in America.

Electric Charging Infrastructure


Currently, the majority of Americans live in densely populated areas that do not provide easy access to electric car chargers. Chargers are not connected to most apartment complexes or located on most streets. In order for electric cars to eventually replace gas vehicles and thereby dramatically improve our environment, we need to figure out how electric cars can easily be charged in urban areas.

Challenge: Expand electric charging infrastructure in densely populated areas. 

Image: "Solar-powered electric vehicle charging station" by Argonne National Laboratory is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0