Find answers and general information quickly.
Challenge Day is an organization that helps young people learn to connect through powerful, life-changing programs in their schools and communities. The day-long, interactive Challenge Day program provides teens and adults with tools to tear down the walls of separation, and inspires participants to live, study, and work in an encouraging environment of acceptance, love, and respect.
Using highly interactive and energetic activities, Challenge Day Leaders guide teens on a carefully-designed exploration of the ways people separate from each other, and model tools for creating connection and building community.
Challenge Day programs increase self-esteem, help shift dangerous peer pressure to positive peer support, and reduce the acceptability of teasing, oppression, and all forms of violence. Our programs inspire youth and communities to Be the Change they wish to see in the world, and challenge others to do the same.
The Challenge Day program is approximately 6 hours long and takes place during a school day. Challenge Day is most effective when it is implemented on the school campus on a school day during normal school hours. It is critical that teachers understand the value of the program so that they are open to allowing students to take part in the day.
Challenge Day Leaders begin the morning by helping teens step out of their comfort zones through music and games. When the teenagers begin to feel safe in the group, they are then willing to be vulnerable with one another and connect as human beings and no longer from stereotypes and labels that have been placed upon them such as nerds, jocks, popular, gangsters, etc. Leaders also spend a portion of the morning talking about the healthy expression of emotions, and the negative effects of keeping feelings inside. During the afternoon, participants dive into the issue of social oppression and examine the impact oppression has on their lives and the lives of people around them. By the end of the afternoon, participants have an opportunity to take a stand against oppression, make amends for hurts they have caused each other, and state their commitment to creating change on their campus and in their community. The day is both inspiring and awakening for students and adults.
Click here for a detailed breakdown of the flow of the day.
We hope so. Challenge Day is designed to wake people up. Day after day, young people in our schools face negative judgments, teasing, violence, loneliness and separation. Our program incorporates the Challenge Day Formula for Change:
Notice: Wake up to how people are treating one another;
Choose: Choose the school and life of your dreams;
Act: Take action to make your dreams a reality.
Newly-inspired students leave the room inspired to seek ways to contribute to the creation of a positive school environment. School officials choosing to host a Challenge Day should have a plan for empowering these motivated youth in achieving their goals. We provide battle-tested free curriculum and follow up guides in advance to support these efforts.
In addition to feeling inspired, some students who are dealing with hurts may need additional support. In most cases, we have found school officials are grateful to finally identify and have the opportunity to provide these students with the help they need. We require that your school team have a counselor who is excited to participate in the entire Challenge Day program and is able to provide any necessary follow-up support.
We definitely recommend participating in a Challenge Day in your area. The decision to include adults from outside of the immediate school community rests solely with the schools that we serve. Occasionally, schools request help with recruiting adult volunteers for their Challenge Day. Please sign up for our newsletter, and we'll keep you posted on schools in your area who are open to having adult facilitators from outside the school community attend their Challenge Day.
Read more here.
One Challenge Day program can serve a maximum of 100 7-12th grade teens and up to 50 or more adults. The types of students you recruit for Challenge Day may vary depending on the goals you intend to accomplish in your school/community.
A minimum of one committed school counselor must participate in each Challenge Day, in order to provide logistical support and to be available for follow-up with students who may need additional support. A minimum of 1 adult for every 4 teens is required. We strongly recommend including adults who have a role in the school or community and who can provide ongoing support to the teens.
Adults are needed to increase safety in the room, to be role models, and to help keep an eye out for teens that may benefit from follow-up support. Without a sufficient number of adults, it may be necessary to limit the amount of youth in the room: something we want to avoid at all costs. Challenge Day is a great place to invite and bring together representatives from different areas of your community, including adults from local civic organizations, law enforcement, fire departments, the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses or corporations, community foundations/local nonprofits, and of course parents, teachers, administrators, school board members, influential community members, and potential funding sources.
You can gain school support for Challenge Days through teachers, counselors, parents/PTA, leadership classes, school administrators or district level administrators. It often works best to approach both the PTA and parents while simultaneously approaching teachers or administrators. Approaching the administration only may result in a top-heavy implementation strategy that can limit parent/teacher support. This is not recommended unless the person approaching the schools is familiar with school politics and feels confident that internal school communication is able to overcome this approach.
Showing the videos and providing a brief overview of the program can often be enough to convey Challenge Day’s value.
Ultimately, experiencing a Challenge Day is a sure fire way to get people on board.
While our six-hour Challenge Day program can have a dramatic effect in your school and community, it was never intended to be a one-day, fix-all program. Therefore, we encourage schools to create a Be the Change Team and a Be the Change Team Plan in order to sustain the cultural and paradigm shifts created through Challenge Day.
We provide each school that takes part in a Challenge Day with a handbook with numerous ideas and activities that can be used as a part of the Be the Change Team Plan. The Be the Change Team Plan may include mentorship, leadership, and/or service-focused activities provided either in conjunction with Challenge Day or with ongoing programs already in place in the school community.
No. We do not teach a Diversity, Equity or Inclusion curriculum.
Having said that, one of the goals of Challenge Day is for participants to experience a sense of not being alone, and included. Participants also overwhelming report feeling safer in their school, and more free to be themselves, and a deeper sense of belonging.
Challenge Day works very hard to deliver a non-partisan, secular workshop.
CRT teaching points and ideas have become a deeply polarized topic in our country, so we steer clear of it. We believe that there's far more that unites us than divides us, and our workshop focuses 100% on that.
We keep all ideologies, dogmas, political positions, and religious beliefs out of our program so that everyone, without exception, can feel welcome and participate fully.
We respect that you may have strong positions one way or another, we have them too! It's just not what the day is about.
It depends how you look at it.
In a very broad sense, Challenge Day primary addresses the social and emotional well being of young people.
In the recent few years however, we have seen many "SEL" programs impose specific cultural or societal values, which may not align with the values of all students and their families.
As a result, that label has become yet another polarizing and divisive concept.
Our goal is to support our participants to be real with themselves and their community, to have a sense of belonging and connection, and to be in their agency and power. They leave with an experience of that, and tools to practice with. Nothing more, and nothing less.
We work hard to make sure that the day works for everyone, with a respect for the cultural values that they have. Wether it's right, left or center.
To see a full breakdown of how our day flows click here.
Not only is it OK, it’s ideal. Some youth and adults fear that having parents in attendance will have a negative impact on the program. We have found the exact opposite to be true. Parents will not be assigned to the same small groups as their child. In our experience, the benefits associated with parent participation can have a profound and lasting positive effect on both the youth and the parent.
Many school administrators who have experienced the power of our programs strongly recommend to parents that if they can only attend one school event with their child, they make Challenge Day that event.
Challenge Days are usually held at schools, and serve up to 100 students and 25-30 adults (at least 1 adult for every 5 students). Adults are school staff, administrators, teachers, parents and even interested community members and outside volunteers. We call these adults "Adult Facilitators," and they participate fully in the program along with the students.
Many schools are open to having community members and outside volunteers come and be part of their Challenge Day.
No, you do not need any special training to be an Adult Facilitator. We send two trained Challenge Day Leaders to each Challenge Day. Challenge Day Leaders lead the Challenge Day for students and adults.
We ask volunteers to arrive 30 minutes early for a morning meeting before the Challenge Day starts, commit to participate in the entire day, and stay 30 minutes after the day ends for a wrap-up meeting. During the morning meeting, one of the Leaders will explain your role and exactly what to expect.
During the wrap-up meeting the other Leader will receive your feedback and make sure that any student that needs follow-up will receive it. Your biggest objective in the day is to participate fully and to listen.
You will experience Challenge Day along with all of the other participants. Adult Facilitators are part of the workshop day. By being there, you will be letting students know that there are caring adults in their community who are willing to be real with them.
No. Everyone at a Challenge Day participates equally. Challenge Day is about breaking down the separations students feel, including the generation gap.
No. The Challenge Day experience is designed to be an unbroken process that starts in the morning with fun and games and ends in the afternoon with sharing and bonding. Therefore, it's important for everyone to stay for the entire process. We require that you commit to staying in the room all day.
Yes! Yourself, a caring heart, and a bag lunch (unless the school coordinator informs you otherwise). Please DO NOT bring your cell phones, pagers, or anything that will distract you from being fully present.
Sign up for our newsletter, and we'll let you know when days are happening near you.
Almost every school day, between one and seven Challenge Days are taking place somewhere in the United States.
Over the years, volunteers have shared inspiring stories about their Challenge Day experience with us. We've highlighted a few below.
“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
“Things would have been very different if I had a Challenge Day at my school.” - Jim Armstrong - Reporter, KGWC News Channel 14
“I was amazed by what the students shared and how I could get close to them as an adult that they didn't previously know. It gave me an inside view of a middle schooler's mind and tribulations as well as my own. Thank you!” - A. Plean, Steamboat Springs, CO
“Powerful! As an adult facilitator, I came in with an illusion that this would be 'all about the kids.' I discovered that it's all about relationships. The timing and sequence of activities worked very well to bring people out of their comfort zone. The power shuffle was amazing.” - L. Middleton, Steamboat Springs, CO
“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
You can read more in our 2022 Impact Report
Booking and Pricing
Planning for a Challenge Day takes at least 2-3 months. We encourage you to book at least 90 days in advance of your desired Challenge Day date. Given the high demand for our programs and the limited availability of our Leaders, the Challenge Day calendar fills up very quickly. Many schools we work with book up to a year or more in advance.
The Challenge Day youth program is $5,000 per day for the 2023-24 school year, and includes:
- Pre-program coaching
- One six-hour program for a maximum of 100 youth and a minimum of 25 adults
- Two trained Program Leaders
- Pre-program survey
- Unlimited phone consultation
- Post-program follow-up call
- Follow up curriculum and guides
In addition to program costs, we ask you to cover travel expenses for our leaders:
2 round-trip airline tickets
2 hotel rooms (equal to or above the quality of a Holiday Inn) for every night prior to your Challenge Days
$400 per day
Rental car beginning the day before your Challenge Days
$100 per day
TOTAL (Estimate for 3 days)
$1500 - $3,000
Because of the high demand for our program, we need to book a minimum of three consecutive days shared per trip for our Challenge Day leaders.
If all you need is one day, we work with nearby schools to 'piggy back' multiple days in your area to make that possible (and to share travel expenses).
Before we sign a contract, we look up flights and hotels and lock in an exact travel cost that's included in your contract. This means no surprises, extra charges, dealing with receipts...etc.
If our actual costs end up being higher than what we estimated, we take responsibility for that.
Local community foundations, civic groups, police departments, businesses, service clubs, school safety funds, drug use prevention funds, and private donors have all provided funding for the implementation of Challenge Days. Many schools have also used Drug Free and Safe Schools money for our programs. Inviting donors and influential members of your community to participate as adult facilitators during the Challenge Days can be a wonderful way for them to see the immediate impact of their donation.
We also strongly recommend inviting influential people in your community to watch the 15-minute segment of the Teen Files: Surviving High School Video. It can be especially powerful for teens in your area to give testimonials about Challenge Day’s positive effects in their lives.
Some communities have created “pay it forward” programs where students who have gone through Challenge Day work with their parents to raise $30-35 to send someone else through Challenge Day. Many schools put on events to fundraise. Local businesses can “adopt” a class to go through Challenge Day. Local employers will match donations given by their employees.