Meet the 2023 Slingshot Challenge Winners

At National Geographic, we believe that every person has the potential to develop the same Explorer Mindset that drives Explorers to inquire, explore, seek knowledge, and work to solve the world’s most pressing problems. 

Recognizing that young people are committed to taking action to protect our planet and inspire a more sustainable future, the National Geographic Society and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation launched the Slingshot Challenge. This initiative is designed to empower the next generation of problem solvers, advocates, and stewards of the planet.

The challenge called for creative solutions from young people aged 13-18 to address the planet’s environmental problems in a one-minute video. Topics included cleaning our air, restoring our ocean, protecting nature, building a waste-free world, and addressing climate change.

More than 1,800 submissions were received from 80 countries, and the 5 winners were selected by expert judges, which included National Geographic Explorers Ved Chirayath, Manar Elkebir, Sandra Turner, and Diana Zendejo

The 2023 Slingshot Challenge winners are:

Abdullah Shahid | Lahore, Pakistan

Resolving the Plight of Smog
Cleaning the air through a community-driven cycle club

Kayla Ling | Hillsborough, California, USA

No Waste Nation
Using the power of social media to connect local waste reducers

Regina Gutiérrez | San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Foresta Vivero
Addressing climate change by rehabilitating ecosystems affected by forest fires

Soren Goldsmith | Lexington, Massachusetts, USA

Save the Forests
Protecting nature through photography and storytelling

Ayomide Alagbe, Mercy Ojotola, Naimat Lukman, Nancy Nkili, Oluwaseyi Aina | Bew Bussa, Nigeria

Our Environment, Our Responsibility
Protecting nature through community education to prevent poaching and logging

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.

“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.”

The winners, who will receive a $10,000 cash prize and can select an educator or nonprofit that supported their submission to receive $2,000, shared innovative solutions ranging from community-driven cycle clubs to protect against smog, to using social media to connect local waste reducers, to rehabilitating ecosystems affected by forest fires. 

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 to slingshot our planet forward.

With the Slingshot Challenge, your students can see firsthand the power of their ideas and their ability to make a positive impact on the planet. So, join us in celebrating these young leaders and encouraging the next generation of conservation heroes to step up and make a difference. 

We are looking forward to the next Slingshot Challenge, which opens this fall. Sign up for email updates to be the first to learn about when the Slingshot Challenge reopens for a new cycle.