Join the movement of young people solving the world’s most pressing environmental challenges!

Our future is at stake. Young people are at the forefront of the climate movement, calling for change and coming up with new ideas and initiatives to make it a reality. Ashoka and GM are here to support — with funding, guidance from innovative leaders, and connections to changemakers like you.

Tackling climate change and the countless environmental challenges we face calls for bold energy and courageous steps. Young leaders are leading the way, and they’re using STEM skills to do it. 

Whether we realize it or not, almost every environmental initiative is connected to STEM — science, technology, engineering or math. You don’t have to be an engineer or rocket scientist to use STEM skills. From composting and gardening, to researching, to launching social media campaigns and apps, changemakers are using STEM every day to make our world more sustainable. (For inspiration, check out stories of changemakers using STEM skills here).  

Are you a young person (age 14-20) working to build a more sustainable future? Tell us about your initiative and how you use STEM skills to make it happen. Apply today for a chance to win funding and support . 

General Motors' Vision

The automotive industry helped transform the world – reshaping our physical world and fundamentally changing the way many people lead their lives. However, with mass mobility also came crashes, environmental impact and time wasted due to congestion. 

Today, General Motors aims to transform the world again by creating a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. Success won’t happen overnight, but with the help of passionate innovators, motivated by urgent societal issues (like climate change), we can make these visions a reality.

Key Dates 

  • December 1, 2020: Challenge opens 
  • December 1, 2020 – February 11, 2021: Entry Phase. During this time, participants may submit entries, edit, and resubmit until the entry deadline.
  • January 14, 2021: Early Entry Deadline. All entries submitted by January 14th will receive additional one-on-one support and feedback from Ashoka. Additionally, Ashoka will select up to two teams who submit their entries before January 14th for a cash prize of $1,000 each. 
  • February 12 – March 12, 2021: Application Screening and Community Review.  
  • March 15 – March 26, 2021: Reference Check and Due Diligence  
  • April 8, 2021: Winners announced. 
  • Summer 2021: Winners attend the Virtual Changemaker Summit, a three-day online experience with Ashoka and General Motors. 

If you have any questions regarding the Our Planet, Our Purpose: STEM for Changemaking Challenge please contact us at 

After the application closes on February 11, ideas will be reviewed by representatives from General Motors, Ashoka and the Changemaker peer community based on eligibility criteria listed below. Challenge results will be structured as follows: 

  • Early Entry Prize: All entries submitted by January 14th will receive additional one-on-one support and feedback from Ashoka. Additionally, Ashoka will select up to two teams who submit their entries before January 14th for a cash prize of $1,000 each.  
  • Winning an Early Entry Prize does not guarantee selection as part of the final 25 winning teams.  
  • Each winning project will get to send up to three representatives to participate in the Changemaker Summit, an immersive online experience in which teams will receive mentorship from General Motors executives, skills training from Ashoka and network opportunities with other amazing teams. Each team will also receive $2,000 in seed funding.  
  • All winning teams will have access to ongoing mentorship and skills development webinars after the event.

Applications for the Our Planet, Our Purpose: STEM for Changemaking Challenge are open to any young person between the ages of 14 and 20 in the USA and its territories. 

Am I eligible?  To qualify, you must meet all of the following criteria. We look forward to receiving your application!  

  • You are a young person between the ages of 14-20 by February 11, 2021 and a resident of the United States and its territories 
  • You are the founder, co-founder, or hold an equivalent leadership position within the initiative your application represents 
  • You have at least one other person on your team 
  • You are committed to mobilizing more young people to join the changemaker movement and to working with changemakers to solve environmental sustainability issues 
  • You have been actively working on your idea for at least three months
  • You are able to submit your application in English 
  • You are not employed, nor directly related (parents or sibling) to a General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee 
  • If chosen as a winner, you commit to attending the Online Changemaker Summit, which will be held in summer 2021, in its entirety 

How will winners be chosen?  The selection committee, comprised of members of Ashoka and General Motors, will be looking for changemakers who provide strong answers to a range of questions about what your initiative does, how it runs, and your changemaking story. Entries will be evaluated on the following criteria: 

  • Changemaker Quality: You identify as a Changemaker and are already taking steps to make a real difference by leveraging STEM for sustainability. You are also encouraging others to do so. 
  • Creativity: Whether you’re tackling a new challenge or bringing a different perspective to an existing problem, you’re doing it in a fresh and innovative way that challenges the norm.  
  • Commitment: You have actively been working on this project for at least three months and have made progress – e.g. you have gone through the process of customer discovery and/or have developed prototypes. You are ready to stick by your project and leave a lasting impact. 
  • Connection: You are focused on making a difference for the environment and can demonstrate a personal connection. You are open to connecting with others and working together to solve the problem you care about. 

In addition to our evaluation criteria described above, the group of winning teams will be selected to represent the diversity of applications received and the diversity of the field. Diversity will refer to: gender, accessibility, class, ethnicity, race and age. Diversity can be showcased in the target audience of a project, its partners or the team representing it. 

  • One application per initiative and per person will be accepted. 
  • Previous Winners of the STEM for Changemaking Challenge are not eligible. 
  • Applications can be submitted only in English. 
  • Employees (and immediate family members) of General Motors, their parent companies, affiliates and subsidiaries, joint ventures, participating advertising and promotion agencies are not eligible to participate in the challenge. 
  • Participants must be between the ages of 14 to 20 by February 11, 2020 and be a resident of the USA and its territories. 
  • Every team member that participated at the Changemaker Summit must be between the ages of 14 to 20 by February 11, 2020.
  • All content uploaded in the application form will be public unless otherwise specified in the form section.

Do you want to get involved in this challenge?

We follow a process with phases. Currently we are in the Winners Announced phase. We have selected and announced the best ideas for this challenge.
52 ideas
52 final ideas
47 final ideas