Think Like a Genius® Challenge

The CYL Think Like a Genius® Challenge invites youth programs and organizations to assemble teams of young leaders between the ages of 14 and 19 to work together to address pressing community issues using the Think Like a Genius® Process.

The TLG Challenge Goal

To work as a team and utilize your community resources to creatively design and implement a youth-focused solution  that drives positive change to a critical community issue

During this 7-week challenge, youth teams and their adult mentors develop and implement the most creative and effective solution to a critical community issue. At the end of the 7 weeks, the teams present their solutions to a panel of community members and their peers, to be awarded monetary prizes and the opportunity to become project mentors for local non-profits for the continuation of their project design.


2022 Challenge Focal Question:
How can youth create solutions to improve the overall health of their communities by addressing mental, physical, and/or sexual health?


Facilitated Me Model™, We Model™ & Roadmap to Success™ sessions 


Teams receive Challenge focal question & start connecting with the needs of the community 


The Challenge Kickoff

Last Saturday in June 

Fun-filled day of leadership exploration, team building, and workshops to help teams be successful in their 7-week Challenge 


Engage in service & leadership opportunities over the summer to more deeply understand the focal question & the communities impacted

Teams work to identify solutions addressing the critical community issue


The Final Challenge

2nd Saturday in August

Teams present their project results & receive feedback from community members on originality, creativity, sustainability and more!

Throughout this challenge, every participant will gain real insight into their own interests, passions, priorities, and goals. They will learn how to uncover the resources available to support them, and learn that asking for help is okay!

The key to gaining this personal growth is in the Challenge’s use of a unique process of building 3-dimensional symbolic models to show and describe thoughts, feelings, and ideas. During the Challenge, each team will engage in facilitated Think Like a Genius® modeling workshops for the Me (individual) Model™, We (team) Model™ and the Roadmap to Success™. The modeling workshops expand innovative thinking and the Roadmap to Success™ focuses and organizes young people’s visionary ideas into actionable plans with a specific goal. This process engages young people to envision and create a world of possibilities and opportunities for themselves, and to positively impact their communities.

Applications for team registration are open now through May 1, 2022 for organizations who are interested in participating for the 2022 Challenge! You do not have to have your individual team members finalized until May 31, 2022. Each team will receive a grant up to $750, distributed at the end of the summer, for materials and staff compensation for the adult team lead to participate in the 7-week Challenge. 


Judging Criteria

During the Final Challenge, all teams have the opportunity to showcase their leadership skills and present their projects to a panel of judges consisting of members of local nonprofit organizations and businesses working within or committed to the critical community issue. The final team projects are judged and monetary awards distributed based on the following judging criteria: actionable, creative, collaborative, effective, measurable, organization, and sustainable.

Additionally, each team will have the opportunity to judge the other teams and select one winner for each of the following categories: most sustainable, most innovative and most community-focused. Winning teams will get a prize package with experiential and fun activities, valuing up to $1,500 per prize! 


Take a look at Challenge questions from previous years. Each question addressed how teams created and implemented youth-led solutions to the following critical community issues 

2021 – Addressing social inequities that have become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic


2019 – Reducing and/or preventing sexual harassment in your communities


2018 – Protecting and nurturing positive mental health for youth in your communities


2017 – Preventing bullying in your communities (school, social media, etc.)


2016 – Increasing food security for youth in Denver Public Schools


2015 – Supporting homeless children and youth in Denver



Watch inspiring stories of youth who have participated in past Challenges.


The CYL Think Like a Genius® Challenge is supported by these community partners