Learning Challenge

Presented by MacArthur Foundation

Self-driven learning is more important than ever for youth to succeed in today’s world. Design the experiences, technology and community to make it more accessible and inspiring.


The value of education is increasingly measured by its real world impact. Today’s careers stretch across multiple fields and require new capabilities. Educational institutions are trying to keep up by reinventing themselves, but they need more emphasis on why learning is relevant. They need better handoffs to work world opportunities. Students are eager to engage beyond the classroom and to integrate what they know with what they can do. Unfortunately, many kids acquire skills but never get the chance to apply them.

Our fast-moving world rewards those who can assemble resources and organize information, redefine problems and explore solutions beyond the first page of search results. Today’s knowledge workers are expected to understand how technologies apply in the real world and to drive their own learning.

Critical thinking and skills development are essential. But skills aren’t enough to succeed in today’s high tech and creative workforce. For women and non-Asian minorities especially, the high tech workforce is getting more exclusionary, rather than less. Those kids need more exposure to the trajectories that are possible. And to succeed in those professions, all kids need better access to real world experience and mentors.


Learning to learn through projects — Design projects that give kids the experience of learning how to learn. Create experiences that focus on a self-driven approach to learning. Kindle creative agency, passion and confidence through project-based learning. Develop a plan to help kids define their own challenges, identify resources and realize projects that they’re passionate about. Find ways to make relevant information and resources more accessible. Show how you’ll help them learn to organize information and structure work to achieve their goals.

Student-driven, technology enhanced — Activate digital tools in the process of inquiry, discovery and creation. Use the Internet to fix the matchmaking problem—evolving the old-boy internship model into something that will actually help build the talent pool, matching industry demand for fresh talent with kids striving to level up. Make the web a better place to start exploring but design opportunities to continue that exploration out in the physical world.

Self-driven seldom means solitary — Enable investigation, support and guidance through peer-to-peer channels and mentoring relationships. Highlight for kids how self-driven learning is relevant in the work world—how smart and successful adults across many professions all have their own styles of learning. Classroom learning isn’t enough—use social networks to show relevance and create pathways that make the payoffs of education clearer. Build real-world communities that support kids pursuing challenges they’re passionate about. Show how these social elements facilitate learning and build confidence.


Health Challenge

Partnership for a Healthier America and Chobani

Health is about bridging the gap between healthy aspirations and everyday actions. Enable positive behavior change by seeding healthy habits where they matter most.


Obesity and physical inactivity have become an epidemic. As a society, we’re seeing the consequences of unhealthy foods and a stationary lifestyle. Today’s generation of 10 year olds have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Our awareness of the problem is growing, but changing our daily habits remains a challenge.

Education can help, but too often it leaves people overwhelmed with information. Holistic health is about agency—knowing what healthy choices are, where to find them and how to transform our good intentions into everyday actions. That last piece—creating everyday actions—is the lynchpin. Habits, good and bad, are tough to make and break. But as a society, our progress will be measured in real people adopting healthier habits.


Make healthy habits more accessible — Many people already aspire to a healthier lifestyle but need help understanding what that really means and taking tangible steps to make it real. More than anything, health is about bridging the gap between our aspirational self and everyday habits. Make healthy choices fun and accessible. Help people create new, tangible behaviors like planning meals and making time to move their bodies. Make those healthy choices easier to maintain over time.

Design for people’s big life changes — Big life shifts can often trigger people’s awareness that they need to make a change—whether it’s starting school, getting married, going through a breakup or losing a loved one. Use the lens of a person in the midst of a major life change—a low-income teenager entering high-school, a recent college grad, a first-time mom—and show how you’d start to seed healthy habits to help reset their behaviors.

Make movement and healthy eating cool and easy to act on — Model the everyday habits needed to achieve and maintain a healthy body—the play, dance, discipline and fun involved in using your body to its fullest potential. Develop a more actionable approach to education, one attuned to the emotions that shape choices. Architect a scalable multi-channel movement that uses social media and gamification in an unexpected way. Leverage influencers or celebrities to help carry the message. Redesign the point of sale environment—the grocery store, the convenience store, drive-throughs, vending machines. Simplify the shelf—with its varied product offerings and confusing nutrition claims. Create a new tool, trigger or visual framework to navigate the confusing world of food labels.


Veterans Challenge

Presented by Bing and Veterans Affairs

Build a platform that makes it easier for veterans to reconnect with their communities. Engage the public and create opportunities for civilians to help.


When veterans come home from service, they search for ways to reconnect with civilian life. Relevant, high quality, local resources are surprisingly hard to find. Whether they are looking for help, a job or just someone to have a beer with, facing a sea of search results can be discouraging. Talking to someone with shared experience can help make for a smoother transition home. But because asking for help and networking aren’t a big part of military culture or existing services, veterans sometimes struggle to find the support they need.

Veterans have to cope with the socio-economic, political, personal and psychological baggage attached to the term “veteran”: The overt stigma, the unspoken elitism, the overzealous salutes to military service. The American public either doesn’t care, struggles to understand what’s normal for someone just back from combat or sees veterans as a charity-case. Those who do understand and who want to help aren’t always sure how.

Veterans need easier ways to reconnect with their communities and to find the resources they’ve earned—better technology and tools, but also places to share stories and to be something other than veterans. For the supportive public, it should be easier to get educated and to do something to help.


Create a platform for vets — Use technology to meet veterans where they are. Build a curation tool that makes it easy to find local services, places and people. Create a stronger bridge between established military veterans and those who have recently returned. Look for ways to give new veterans access to the informal networks that make finding jobs and services easier. Design something that makes the current apps, platforms, institutions, initiatives and tools more navigable. Make it easy for veterans to compare the services that best fit their needs. Incorporate online and offline interactions. Show how veterans find out about your tool, how your platform pays for itself and who maintains it in the long-term.

Start a movement for the public — Create a big splash to educate and engage the public, to drive awareness and action. Go beyond a great message and point to actionable opportunities where people can help in concrete ways. Line up all the right partners to support your movement. Use stories or storytelling platforms to channel the public’s participation. Show how people will find out about it. Remember that some veterans want to get away from the label altogether, so find ways to avoid the stigma and transcend the label to empower the person.