We're challenging young people to find ways to solve community issues that affect children and youth, and we're providing the means and incentives to do so.

Overview of Challenge with Interviews and Scenes
from the 2016 Event

The Think Like a Genius® Foundation Challenge invites organizations to assemble teams of young people between the ages of 14 and 19 to address pressing community issues in Denver. Qualifying teams and their Adult Leaders will be given stipends, and the top three teams that develop the most creative, effective solutions over seven-week period will be awarded monetary prizes.


Why Join the 2016 Challenge?

Youth Team Members will:

  • have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of people in the Denver metro area

  • tap into their energy and creativity

  • learn teamwork, goal-setting, and presentation skills

  • meet new, great people and expand their network

  • be acknowledged for their efforts

  • have fun!!

Sponsors will:

  • engage in community service

  • see tangible results from their support in a short time

  • make a meaningful difference in the lives of Denver youth

  • support these young people in building life and work skills 

  • be acknowledged and featured for making a difference 


Challenge teams receive:

  • education from top experts on the Challenge topic

  • ground-breaking instruction and experiences regarding goal-setting and collaboration

  • a $500 team stipend to develop and implement a replicable solution

  • a chance to win cash prizes: 1st place: $3,000, 2nd place: $1,500, 3rd place $750

  • acknowledgement for their efforts as well as TLGF Challenge hats, t-shirts, and certificates of achievement


What’s the Challenge Topic?

Hunger, poverty, and youth in Denver are the focus for the 2016 Challenge.


Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute

The Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) is a community creating economic and social mobility through entrepreneurship. Through skill-building, mentorship, and micro-lending, RMMFI helps curious people turn into serious entrepreneurs. For eight years, RMMFI has helped over 118 entrepreneurs launch businesses as a tool in their pathway to self-sufficiency and self-worth. www.rmmfi.org

"RMMFI is excited to be a partner in the Think Like a Genius® Challenge. The Challenge teams have proven

that great ideas can lead to incredible community impact. RMMFI is a firm believer that these ideas only grow stronger and are more sustainable when paired with realistic business models. RMMFI will provide each Challenge team with business basics programming to ensure ideas are visionary and rooted in the ability to successfully move from idea to launch."

          - Rob Smith, co-founder and CEO


“Having worked in youth development for over 20 years in multiple capacities, I have always viewed Think Like a Genius as an innovative and strong tool of youth development. The Think Like a Genius Challenge took my admiration and belief to a higher level. In my current position I oversee the Denver Mayor’s Youth Commission. We had a team of youth participate in the challenge and each have spoken to how their lives will be forever changed due to the opportunity the challenge provided to them. It is vital that youth have opportunities to be creative and problem solve and this is exactly what the TLGF Challenge provides. I fully support making sure the TLGF Challenge is sustainable and continues to grow each year.”

          - Joey Pace, Youth Success Director, Denver Office of Children’s Affairs

General Information

The Think Like a Genius® Foundation (TLGF) Challenge is an annual event that develops viable solutions to community issues by combining the talent of local youth and the TLGF's We Model™ and Roadmap to Success™ programs. We welcome your feedback to help this event improve and grow.


2016 Schedule


Training and Research

Once registered, each TLGF Challenge team will be given resources to begin learning about the issues related to the Challenge topic. From the time a team is registered and until the kick-off on June 18, each team will be required to set up specific times to meet to discuss and begin working on their solution to the Challenge topic. During this same period, with guidance and supplied resources, each team will be expected to do their own independent research. The goal of the training and research is for team members to develop a deeper understanding of the Challenge topic so they can prepare a  concrete plan that will result in team success.



During the kick-off event on Saturday, June 18th, teams will have the opportunity to develop a solution to this year's challenge using the research they developed prior to the kick-off event, and propose how they will implement it and measure its success. Each team submitting an actionable, reasonable proposal will be provided a stipend of $500, in the form of a debit card, as working capital.


Seven-Week Challenge

Kick-Off-Event - Saturday June 18

The kick-off event will begin the seven-week Challenge. Teams will gather to address the Challenge topic. Using the Think Like a Genius® Foundation’s Roadmap to Success™ program modeling process and other TLGF supporting resources, teams will be guided in formulating solutions to the Challenge, as well as creating a plan (roadmap) to implement their solutions effectively. During this seven-week period teams will meet to take action on achieving their solutions to the Challenge topic.

Each team will be required to work with a videographer, provided by TLGF, to create a two-minute video of their project, which will be part of their final presentation.


Final Presentations - Saturday August 6  

Teams will gather to present their solutions including videos to a panel of judges, the other participating teams, family, friends, and invited guests. The judges will evaluate the results, winners will be determined, and awards will be presented.  All participcants and sponsors will we be acknowledged and appreciated.







Note: These criteria may be subject to slight modifications before the Kick-off event.


Team Awards

Winning teams will be announced at the conclusion of the Presentation and Judging event.


  • 1st Place: $3,000

  • 2nd place $1,500

  • 3rd place $750



For More Information - Contact:




Master Information Sheet

For Challenge Teams


What is the 2016 Think Like a Genius® Foundation Challenge?

It is an annual competition in which talented teens from several youth organizations in Denver compete to develop creative and viable solutions to community issues.


The 2016 TLGF Challenge Focal Question:

“How can we increase food security for youth in Denver Public Schools?”

  1. How would you want to be helped if you were a youth living with food insecurity?

  2. As a team, what is your plan to answer Question 1?



What is a “Focal” Question?

It is the central Challenge issue that all teams will use to guide their efforts. The Challenge is to answer the Focal Question by working as a team and coming up with a viable plan and presentation that meets all the judging criteria.


What is “Food insecurity”?

It is defined by The World Health Organization as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.

      Food security is built on three pillars:

            1 - Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.

            2 - Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a

                 nutritious diet.

            3 - Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as

                 well as adequate water and sanitation.



In a nutshell, what is your team goal?

  • To design and implement a team project that makes a difference for Denver youth who deal with food insecurity – your answer to the Focal Question.

  • To summarize your team project and your results for judging in a 5 minute presentation on August 6,2016



Team Roles and Responsibilities:

Each team will consist of four youth Team Members, one Adult Team Leader and one Corporate Mentor.


Team Members Roles (these will be decided and elected by the Team Members):

  • Youth Spokesperson and Back-up Spokesperson.  Their job is to represent your team at any scheduled meetings when one or more team participants might not be able to make a meeting. The Youth Spokesperson will be responsible to report back to team members who missed a specific meeting.

  • Treasurer - will be accountable for the $500 stipend each team will receive. The stipend can be used for anything that is specific to developing your innovation.

  • Secretary/Note-Taker- each team will select a note-taker for all meetings to make sure the team documents their innovation process.


Adult Team Leader is from one of the youth organizations whose role is to guide, support and assist the team as needed.  However, all of the creativity, decisions, presentation etc must come from the Team Members.  The Team Leader is a coach – not a participant or decider of what is to be done.  No youth can meet directly with the Corporate Team Mentor without the Team Leader present.


The Corporate Mentor’s job is to be a sounding board for the Team Leader and team participants. It is not the Corporate Mentor’s responsibility to lead or direct the team, but only to guide the team when asked for advice. The team participants will only meet with the Corporate Mentors when the Team Leader can be present. The Corporate Mentors will be assigned to each team the week of May 3rd.


Additional Support People

Youth Leadership Board members will act as peer Mentors and will be available to all teams.  They have been through this process and may be able to provide valuable advice.  However, the Youth Board members are not participants or deciders of what you should do.  Like the Team Leader and Corporate Mentor, they act as coaches and advisors.


Videographers - we will be working with a group of videographers and a photographer who will meet with each team to identify the key components in each team’s innovation process. There will be a maximum two minute video created with each team’s support that will be used in your final 5 minute presentation.  The video should walk the viewer through the steps your team took to achieve your goal.



Miscellaneous Requirements

Team Name: each team will be responsible for coming up with a team name and submit it to Think Like a Genius® Foundation for approval.


Team Banner: Each team must have a team banner representing their youth organizations name (e.g. Girls Inc., Boys & Girls Clubs, etc., or school name, e.g. George Washington High School)


When do you meet and how often?

Team Members will determine with their Team Leaders the dates they will meet. You can meet as much, and or little, as you choose.


Me Model or Roadmap Model: Each team participant must have experienced creating their own Me Model or Roadmap, or have at least two team members that have created a Me Model or Roadmap model.


We (Team) Models: 

  • The team model must be built on the Challenge site.

  • Team participants are permitted to bring “small” artifacts to the event that they can use in their We (Team) Model, as well as, research information they have gathered and may want to use in constructing their models.

  • All teams will be responsible for their We (Team) Models after the kick off Challenge event on June 18th. Please make sure you build your models so they are strong and will withstand abrupt movement – they need to survive until the final presentations and judging on August 6.

  • TLGF Facilitators will be available to help all teams if they have any questions about building their We (Team) Models.

  • Have every team be versed in the Quick Guide tips-use of materials, symbolism, clay, hot glue guns, etc. by the day of the event. Team leaders must do this and explain modeling using their personal Me Model.

  • Do not jump the gun and begin to build your model before the June 18th kickoff – this could result in disqualification!!


Resource List: Each team must acknowledge the resource list they were given and commit to doing research on Food Insecurity in Denver Public Schools. These resources will better help prepare each team for the actual Challenge on Saturday, June 18th.  Click here for the list:


Use of Stipend Funds ($500 per team) – team leader and all team members must be accountable for all stipend funds used. Please keep a solid accounting of all funds you spend (save and document all of your receipts)


Food - Lunch will be supplied to all team leader’s and participants at the Kick-off event.  Snacks will be provided at the Final Judging event.  (If you have any special food need or allergies to foods, please let us know so we can accommodate you)


Event Attire: Casual dress


Judging Criteria

A panel of five judges will evaluate each of the final team presentations based on the following criteria:


















Key Dates

















RMMFI Training - May 3rd

Time: 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Location: Tapiz Building at 1089 Osage Street, Denver, CO-80205. Phone: (720) 932-3145 The room we will be using will be reserved under the name of Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute, the non-profit organization we are partnering with on the Challenge.


Who should participate: Adult Team Leader and at least 2 youth participants from each team


What information will be covered: How to develop your project, successfully


Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) (www.rmmfi.org) will be running a condensed 2 hour training, which will provide each Challenge team with business basics programming to ensure ideas are visionary and rooted in the ability to successfully move from idea to launch.


The 2016 Challenge Kick Off Event

Date: Saturday, June 18th, Team Registration at 8:30 a.m. (sharp)

Location: Mile Hi United Way - 711 Park Ave W, Denver, CO 80205



Team Presentations / Judging / Awards Presentations

Date: Saturday, August 6th

Check-In: 8:30 a.m.

Location: Mile Hi United Way - 711 Park Ave W, Denver, CO 80205


Event Rules

  • Please turn off your cell phones, NO texting during the Challenge

  • Team Accountability (RESPECT): Each team must be accountable to their team. Everyone must show up or it could impact the performance of the team.

  • Research Responsibility: Each team member shares the research they are required to do to learn about Food Insecurity with DPS students.

  • Show up!

  • Be a great teammate!

  • Do work that makes you proud!

  • HAVE FUN!!!!