Challenge Day Evaluations & Research

"I’m not kidding when I say this is the way we change the world."
– Oprah Winfrey, Oprah's High School Challenge, November 6, 2006

Each Challenge Day program follows a core script derived from 27 years of experience providing powerful workshops in schools and communities. Research shows that Challenge Day develops important leadership and social and emotional skills.
2014-2015 Annual Report

Challenge Day Results

Our 2013-14 surveys show that after participating in Challenge Day:

  • 97% of adult volunteers would recommend the Challenge Day program to friends or family
  • 94% of students would recommend the Challenge Day program to friends or family
  • 90% of students feel the skills taught will be helpful to them in their personal life
  • 90% of students report being more …
    • aware of the effects of bullying
    • accepting and supporting of other students
    • understanding of other people's experiences
    • aware that their actions affect others
  • 80% of students report being more …
    • connected to other students and adults
    • accepting of themselves
    • hopeful about their future
    • likely to help others
    • hopeful that a school where people treat each other with respect and acceptance is possible
Challenge Day Student Survey 2010-2011 Summary highlighting the fourth large-scale data collection and exploratory study performed by Challenge Day
Challenge Day Student Survey 2010-2011 - Executive Summary Challenge Day Student Survey - Executive Summary
School Climate Survey 2010-2011 2010-2011 Survey measuring school climate at schools that held Challenge Days
School Climate Survey 2010-201 - Executive Summary 2010-2011 Executive Summary of survey measuring school climate at schools that held Challenge Days
Challenge Day Student Survey 2008-2010 Summary highlighting the third large-scale data collection and exploratory study performed by Challenge Day
Challenge Day Outcomes

Challenge Day develops leadership and social and emotional skills in students.1 Validated outcomes include these vital educational and life effectiveness skills:

  • Intellectual Flexibility – youth that demonstrate this attribute are open to new ideas, are adaptable and flexible in their thinking, and can change opinions easily if there is a better idea or way of doing activities and projects. They can also see and understand perspectives different than their own2
  • Task Leadership – youth that demonstrate this attribute can successfully enroll people to participant in tasks, activities, and projects. Youth with this attribute believe that they can productively lead others in a positive and effective manner.
  • Emotional Control – youth that demonstrate this attribute believe that they can stay calm in stressful situations and overcome anxiety quickly when things do go wrong and recover and resolve the problem efficiently.
  • Self Confidence – youth that demonstrate this attribute believe that they have the ability to do anything they put their mind to and they are confident they will succeed.
  • Social competence – youth that demonstrate this attribute have a high degree of self-perceived ability in social interactions. They have a high degree of confidence in their ability to positively relate with others.

Challenge Day provides growth in other areas as well. After a program, youth participants:

  • Increase their skills in noticing oppression and isolation
  • Practice safe and effective intervention tools in the midst of conflict
  • Perform acts of change in their schools and communities3

At Challenge Day, we invite youth to make at least one conscious, positive contribution (also known as an act of change) each day in their communities and schools. The acts of change youth most often did after a Challenge Day are as follows 4:

  • Helped peers and family
  • Connected and reached out to peers
  • Gave hugs and expressed love
  • Participated in community service
  • Resolved conflict
  • Took care of self

By participating in Challenge Day, youth learn to accept themselves completely for who they are just the way they are, look through the eyes of acceptance, love, and respect, and live their life in service. This is the work of Challenge Day!

1Nail, Terry. Dissertation: Evaluation of Life Effectiveness and Leadership Development in a Challenge Day Program for High School Students, Library of Congress, 2007.

2Neill, James et al., Life Effectiveness Questionnaire, 2003.

3Nail, Terry, 2007.


Validation Studies

Bangor High School, Bangor ME, 2005

In a 2005 Study measuring positive change in school climate at Bangor High School, students were administered a Likert-type survey prior to and following implementation of Challenge Day programs. Results indicated improvements in six of eight items associated with improved school climate. Improvements also occurred in seven of nine items associated with students feeling welcomed at school. School Climate Study

Jefferson School District, Daly City, CA, 2007

In a 2007 outcome-based evaluation measuring improved life effectiveness and developed leadership in high school students at Jefferson High School, the study indicated that Challenge Day and its follow-up Challenger Program improved life effectiveness related to social competence, intellectual flexibility, task leadership, emotional control, and self- confidence. Additionally, the results indicated that this program developed leadership in high school students. Additionally, the results of the study indicated increased skills in noticing oppression and isolation, practicing safe and effective intervention tools, and demonstrating acts of integrity. The study also found that there was a significant increase in participants standing up for themselves and for others. Evaluation of Life Effectiveness and Leadership Development (abstract)

Duval County, Jacksonville, FL

A 2011 survey conducted at Duval County Public Schools (DCPS), in Jacksonville Florida, sought to (a) assess students’ perceptions of changes in their attitudes and behaviors following Challenge Day and (b) gain awareness of issues currently being faced by students. The survey's conclusion lists a number of positive outcomes, which "included increased awareness, safety, social responsibility, acceptance of self and others, connection, expression, optimism regarding the future, and academic goal-setting." Duval County, FL Survey-June 2011
"There are many programs available which tell kids how and why bullying hurts. The genius of Challenge Day is the simple way in which the activities show kids that lesson. The students see others who have experienced many of the same obstacles they have faced. They see peers who experienced even greater challenges."
– Dwayne K. Newman, Superintendent, Colusa Unified School District, Colusa, California
"After the first Challenge Day we had a 50% drop in suspensions and another 50% drop the next year after the second Challenge Day, along with reduced disciplinary actions. This fall when school began, several upper class students, based on what they have learned from Challenge Day, decided to greet the freshman and welcome them to the school. It truly was the best start to any school year I have experienced ever."
– Sandra Just, Principal, Thomas Jefferson High School, Denver, Colorado
"I would like to thank the entire Challenge Day organization for promoting the idea that every person, no matter who they are, are worthy of kindness, dignity, and respect. If the whole world worked by means of that premise, the world would be a much more wonderful place."
– Sandy Brunswick, English Teacher, Elmwood High School
"This day was 200% more than it promised to be!"
– Brad, Principal, Casper, WY
"Having been exposed to Challenge Day through the airing on Oprah Winfrey's show made me, as a human being, feel so good about the work that Rich, Yvonne, and their team are doing every day to enrich the lives of our young people. It also spoke to me that perhaps we could adapt and adopt this program into a large corporate setting, and the pilot program we recently [2007] ran at The Coca-Cola Company was an overwhelming success."
– Steve Bucherati, The Coca-Cola Company
"Your unbelievable leaders are some of the most amazing, high energy, positive and special people on this planet. They connected with our students and staff on levels we never thought possible and made everyone who experienced Challenge Day feel important and connected."
– Jay Pilnick, Assistant Principal, Roslyn High School, Roslyn, NY
"It's been over a month since our Challenge Day and I'm still seeing the lasting effects of your program."
– Julie Richardson - Activities Director, Marin Catholic High School, Kentfield, CA
"The Challenge Day program created an environment of caring, sensitivity and understanding that I would not have believed possible in a one day program. Imagine if all kids were exposed to this type of sensitivity training on an ongoing regular basis!"
– Robert Lebby - Director, North Star Camp for Boys, Hayward, WI
"Wow! This training opened my eyes to a whole new way of seeing and being with young people!"
– Sue Schilling - Counselor, Natrona County Schools, Casper, WY
"I think our kids need to be aware of their feelings and be reminded that they don't have to handle them alone."
– Scott Bergerhouse - Vice Principal, Antioch, CA
"I wanted to share a story I heard at John Ware Jr. High yesterday. Two students who had been making a teacher's life miserable by continually challenging her and encouraging classmates to be disrespectful towards her, left Challenge Day last Monday and went directly back to the school. They found her in her classroom, asked permission to speak to her and then in front of a class of students who had not been at Challenge Day, apologized sincerely and promised not put her through that anymore."
– Pat Mass, Lord Beaverbrook HS, Calgary, AB
"I was blown away to see a group of introverted 'inner-groupers' becoming open, loving, and sharing individuals in a short six hours!"
– Alvin Pruitt – Austin Eastside Story, Austin, TX
"When I signed up for Challenge Day I thought I was going for the kids. Clearly it was the gift I needed for myself."
– R.C. Kelly, Police Activities League, Atlanta, GA
"This program is desperately needed in every school across the country. The impact that it made on me and the students I saw here will not be forgotten... Thank You!"
– Addictions Therapist R. Giuliano – Michigan
"Challenge Day works better than any other program I've seen locally or nationally."
– Tim Monroe, former Mayor and Councilman, Casper, WY
"If every school had a Challenge Day as part of the curriculum, our world would be 100% better off."
– Earl Miller - Founder and Director, Reach Out Benicia
"This was an absolutely brilliant combo of some main ideas that I've heard in self-improvement seminars and books in the early 80's, and racism classes I've had more recently. This is the stuff that all kids need, I think, more than reading, writing and math."
– S. Rasmussen, Wofford Heights, CA
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