August 27, 2019

RISE Challenge Colorado

RISE Challenge Colorado & Summit Information

WHAT is the RISE Challenge?
Part competition, part summit, the RISE Challenge combines project-based learning with the latest research in high-quality STEM education to engage students in action projects that improve their communities.

WHY the RISE Challenge?

  • Transforms classrooms by grounding learning in issues students care about to transform classrooms into vibrant learning communities.
  • Deepens learning by asking students to leverage experience, harness internal and external resources, develop a plan, and implement that plan in their community.
  • Builds problem-solving skills by giving students hands-on experience designing and implementing a project in their community.
  • Develops citizenship by supporting students as they engage with community stakeholders to solve a local problem which develops the habits of good citizenship.
  • Develops skills in creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication – the foundation for the 21st century learning – by asking students to work as a team that is engaging members of their local community.

RISE Challenge CO Brochure


How It Works

The RISE Challenge is open to Northern Colorado educators and students, grades 5 – 10. Guided by the Earth Force Community Action & Problem-Solving Process, participants learn about the natural hazards impacting their communities, select an issue to focus on, conduct in-depth research and engage community stakeholders, define a strategy for addressing their natural hazard issue, and present it in an action plan proposal. Submitted written proposals will be reviewed by a panel of local judges. Earth Force will hold a culminating summit for all participants to showcase their work.  Groups with the top proposals will be invited to present to a panel of expert judges at the summit for the chance to win prize money!

  • All proposal entries are eligible to receive funding to help implement proposed projects
  • Awards will be presented to the top 5 winning proposals, determined on summit day as a combined score of the written proposal score and summit day presentation score. Prizes money ranges from $1,000 for 1st place to $200 for 5th Place.
  • Read all about past RISE Challenge winning projects.


Information for Getting Started

Join our Fall Natural Hazards Resilience Teacher Professional Development Series: Interested in learning more about the RISE Challenge, natural hazard science, and education resources? Join Earth Force and HEART Force for our fall teacher professional development series. Hear from Colorado natural hazards experts. Discover natural hazard and community problem-solving curriculum resources. Meet other teachers engaging their students in community natural hazard mitigation action projects.

Wednesday, October 14, 4-5 PM:
Using ESRI GIS Tools to Explore Hazards hosted by HEART Force
Registration Information Here

Wednesday, October 21, 4-5 PM :
Introduction to RISE Challenge hosted by Earth Force
Registration Information Here

Wednesday, November 11, 4-5 PM:
Community Natural Hazard Mitigation with the City of Fort Collins hosted by Earth Force
Registration Information Here

Wednesday, November 18, 4-5 PM:
Colorado Resilience Office hosted by HEART Force
Registration Information Here

Wednesday, December 2, 4-5 PM:
RISE Challenge Teachers Expert Teachers Share hosted by Earth Force
Registration Information Here

Wednesday, December 9, 4-5 PM:
WWA Scientist 2020 CO Hazards Recap hosted by HEART Force
Registration Information Here

Educator Professional Development: Classroom educators interested in the RISE Challenge have the opportunity to take part in our professional development opportunities. Earth Force provides participating educators with no-cost, high-quality professional development sessions in our award-winning Community Action & Problem-Solving Process. Our Process offers classroom educators a framework for transforming their Project-Based Learning and useful tools for guiding students through community-based civic action projects. Sign up HERE or contact Justin Zakoren for more information.


Important Dates & Suggested Project Timeline


  1. Educators attend a professional development workshop
  2. Develop a classroom implementation plan

August- December

  1. Work with students to identify environmental hazards in your community
  2. Choose and research key issues
  3. Connect with experts to discover root causes
  4. Decide on one issue to explore
  5. Take advantage of ongoing Professional Development opportunities


  1. Decide on a project to address the chosen issue
  2. Develop proposal for action
  3. In-service workshops available for development support
  4. March 12, 2021 submission deadline


  1. Start implementation of action project
  2. Attend the RISE Challenge Colorado Summit (TBD, 2021) with the possibility to win PRIZE money
  3. Celebrate!

Interested in upcoming educator professional development or other opportunities to become involved? Contact Justin Zakoren for more information.


In partnership with:

Earth Force and FEMA Region VIII look forward to expanding the RISE Challenge to additional Colorado communities in the 2020-2021 school year.

Current participating community floodplain/stormwater management agencies include: