Competition Seeks Students' Ideas to Reduce Waste; Offers $50K Teacher Grants, Video Lesson Plans, and Supporting Resources

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Students can win up to $100,000 in The Paradigm Challenge for their ideas about how to reduce waste in their homes, schools, communities, and around the world. Teacher grants up to $5,000 will be awarded. The competition provides video lesson plans and supporting materials.

Paradigm Challenge Winners

This challenge inspires a special kind of innovation.

A private foundation is offering $150,000 to students for their ideas about how to reduce waste in homes, schools, communities, and/or around the world. “The earth is everyone’s responsibility and we believe in the power of our youth to help address this important issue,” explained Jeff Richardson, founder of and CEO of Project Paradigm, the private foundation behind the growing youth movement to make a difference in the world.

Each year, The Paradigm Challenge invites students aged 4 to 18 to use kindness, creativity, collaboration, and STEM skills to solve a real-world problem. Last year, more than 50,000 students worked on new ways to reduce home fire fatalities and injuries. The Grand Prize and an all-expense-paid patent application were awarded to the student inventors of the "Fire Mitt," an oven mitt that quickly and easily unfolds into a fire blanket which can be deployed to put out a cooking fire.

“This challenge inspires a special kind of innovation,” noted Montana Marks, Project Paradigm's Kindness Officer. "These kids are innovating for good. They are helping other kids, they are helping adults, and even our planet. They are changing the world.”

Project Paradigm's website for The Paradigm Challenge provides students and teachers with information about the leading causes of waste, as well as current efforts to combat this problem. In addition, the website has "how to" videos for students, a video lesson plan, and supporting materials for teachers.

“The Paradigm Challenge is a terrific opportunity for educators who are looking for motivational project-based learning activities for their students,” explained Ashley Greenway, 2016 Allen Distinguished Educator and Georgia STEM Laureate. “The Challenge is particularly appealing because of its engaging online video lesson plan.”

The video lesson plan is narrated by last year's top teams, as well as by teen inventor Alexis Lewis, who has spoken at The White House. Lewis recommends students watch The Paradigm Challenge’s “6 Steps to Solve Any Challenge" video. "It's a great way for kids to learn that they already have what it takes to solve problems and make a difference in the world,” said Lewis.

The 100 Finalist teams with the best ideas will win cash prizes of up to $100,000. Their supporting teachers will win cash grants up to $5,000. In addition, the top team in each age category will win a trip to Los Angeles to attend The Paradigm Challenge’s black-tie prize ceremony. Last year, teams came from as far away as New Zealand and India to attend the event.

In addition to the cash prizes, the top inventions have a chance to win all-expense-paid patent applications. Project Paradigm is committed to turning winning ideas into reality. “We want to empower students to solve real-world problems and, when they do, we will help implement the best ideas,” said Richardson. Patent applications are filed in the inventors’ names and they retain all the intellectual property rights.

The deadline for entries is May 1, 2017. There is no cost to enter.

About the Paradigm Challenge: The Paradigm Challenge is a new annual competition created by Project Paradigm in collaboration with the American Red Cross and supported by a coalition of partners, including Youth Changing the World and the National Youth Leadership Council. The theme of the competition will change annually.

About Project Paradigm: Project Paradigm, a national private foundation headquartered in Los Angeles, California, aims to identify, support, and collaborate with passionate individuals and organizations to inspire, lead, and facilitate paradigm shifts in the approaches to global challenges. Learn more at Or like us on Facebook and Twitter (@ParadigmChlleng).

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Jeff Richardson

Michelle Lewis
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