Community Changemaker Challenge

Community Changemaker Challenge
Student presenting to an audience in an auditorium

What is the Community Changemaker Challenge (CCC)?

The CCC is an annual idea-stage competition for high school students from New Hampshire, southern Maine, and northern Massachusetts. The CCC engages high school students, teachers, and community members in entrepreneurial and innovative thinking to solve community challenges. We provide curriculum, training, and coaching to students and teachers who join the program, ensuring that all have the support they need to be successful.

Students, working individually or on a team, identify a social, environmental, or economic problem in their community, region, or somewhere else in the world, and use an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to address it. Teams submit a 3-minute video and 2-page paper by the late April deadline and then come to UNH in early May to share their work with judges as they compete against teams from other schools.

This challenge model is based on the highly successful UNH NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge, and has been in existence since 2016. Some students in the past have landed internships, developed key contacts, and even written their college essays about the experience. 

“I learned how to create a solution for a real-world problem and then present our solution in a way that everyone can understand.”  - past participating educator

“I think that student leadership is a very important part to this project. Each person has their own leadership role which is essential to the success of the group.” - past participating student

“I learned there are many problems happening in the world and we humans have to step up and find the best solutions.” - past participating student

Read about the 2023 competitors!

The CCC is a partnership between the UNH Sustainability Institute, the Responsible Governance and Sustainable Citizenship Project (RGSCP), the UNH Cooperative Extension, the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center (NH SBDC), and local schools, all sharing an interest in creative problem-solving and effective change making.

Important Dates & INFORMATION

Friday, November 10, 2023
Teachers express intention to participate

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the high level of interest this year it is unlikely we will be accepting any more schools for the 2023-24 Challenge.  However, we would still love to hear from you and are happy to put you on our list for 2024-25. Please reach out using our quick interest form:

Submit the Interest Form

Friday, April 26, 2024
Student entries due
Note: This might be during a school vacation, please plan accordingly. Entries can be submitted anytime after January 15, 2024.

Friday, May 10 / Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Please join us for the concluding day of the 2024 Community Changemaker Challenge - a day of inspiration, networking, and celebration of New England's high school changemakers!
9 a.m.  Arrival / Registration
9:30 a.m.  Program Begins
10 a.m.  Student Presentations with Q & A
12 p.m. Lunch / Networking / Surveys
1 p.m.  Awards & Closing Remarks
2 p.m.  Event Ends

See past participants videos

2023 Community Changemaker Challenge Winners

Team: BIOthermal - Winner
School: Second Nature Academy

Team Members: Emmet Gleeson, Angus McGranahan, Brianna West, Kevin Cardona-Greene, Olivia Lefebvre, Elizabeth Roy

Advisor: Kaitlin Quinn-Stearns

Team: Guardian Angel - Winner
School: Governor’s Academy

Team Members: Patrick Carroll, Carlos Marte-Santana, Maxwell Russell, Hongbo Xia            

Advisor: Marcus Soule


Team: Engineering Through the Ethics of Care - Runner-Up          
School: Oyster River High School

Team Members: Maya Ajit  

Advisor: Jon Bromley


Team: EduRoad - Runner-Up
School: Phillips Exeter Academy  

Team Members: Erin Chen, Katherine Lopez, Mario Meneses  

Advisor: Liz Reyes


Challenge Details

The Challenge Process:

1. Open to New England high school students
2. Submit your idea (a 2-page summary and 3-minute video); see the Judges' Rubric
3. Final Round: finalists present their idea to a panel of judges with Q&A and prizes are awarded

The Challenge is built on three pillars:

  1. Facilitator Training: We will train teachers, Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO) coordinators, and other youth-serving community leaders to work with students to address challenges in their communities.
  2. Curriculum: Facilitators will use our curriculum and materials that are based on design thinking to help identify and develop solutions to their community challenges. They will have access to a wealth of resources and activities that they can put their own personal spin on.
  3. Culminating Event: Facilitators and students from around New England will come together to present their unique solutions and meet like-minded changemakers.

The Community Changemaker Challenge has the potential to enrich the education of many high school students and enhance the professional development of teachers. We would like to further the success of this program by making it available to more public schools, especially schools in districts lacking non-traditional learning opportunities for students, such as the project-based learning the competition provides.

Participating Schools

The Derryfield School, Exeter High School, Oyster River High School, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Portsmouth High School have participated in previous years. We hope to increase the number of partner schools for 2022.

Benefits for Teachers/Facilitators
  1. School Stipends: All participating schools would be eligible for a stipend ($500-$1,000 depending on available program funds) paid after the culminating event. This money would partially compensate the school for the  time and energy spent engaging with our curriculum, provide resources for school programming, and even could allow for the implementation of student ideas within their schools and communities. In this way, funding would directly and tangibly provide contributions to New England high schools.
  2. Professional Development Day for Teachers at UNH: We envision the development and delivery of a professional development day for teachers and facilitators at UNH, supporting them with a “train the trainer” approach. This would be a CEU-granting training upon request, from which all educators can benefit.
  3. Web Resources: In these uncertain times, making our curriculum available online (via Canvas) ensures that all participants have uninterrupted access to program materials such as readings, recorded presentations, and activities. 

The Sustainability Institute has partnered with the UNH Cooperative Extension and NH Small Business Development Center (NH SBDC) to make this program even more robust and far-reaching than the piloted SVIC High School Track.

Each member of this partnership has unique skills and connections that will work to create a sustainability-focused entrepreneurial ecosystem that is of great benefit to students, teachers, and community members.

  • The Sustainability Institute brings diverse people and ideas together to make UNH a model sustainable learning community that reaches beyond campus to engage state, regional, national, and international partners to advance sustainable solutions
  • The NH SBDC offers programming and consulting for budding small businesses and is a vital part of entrepreneurial development in the state.
  • UNH Cooperative Extension Community and Economic Development team is focused on connecting and supporting entrepreneurs, developing sustainable innovation spaces, creating communities that support entrepreneurs, and increasing entrepreneurship among individuals throughout New Hampshire. 

Contact  Brent Powell, Director of School Partnerships, at for more information and to take on the Challenge!

Brent headshot


Brent Powell serves as the Director of School Partnerships on our Community Changemaker Challenge Team. Brent was a longtime teacher and administrator at The Derryfield School, in Manchester, NH, where his students participated in the early years of the High School Social Venture Innovation Challenge. Brent has recently established a new education nonprofit to bring Design Challenge learning to more schools and students throughout New England, and he is currently conducting an action research project, as part of his doctorate program at Northeastern University, to increase student access to the CCC.