About the Challenge


The Ciena Solutions Challenge is a collaborative learning experience that supports teams of educators and students to contribute a meaningful solution to their local community.

The Challenge invites educators and students to engage in Challenge Based Learning to design a solution that addresses the Sustainable Development Goals . By using Challenge Based Learning, teams will explore a big idea, ask thoughtful questions, investigate their challenge, and act to create a solution. Challenge teams may design anything from a product or device, a campaign or piece of media, a physical space or environment, an experience, a system, or something else that leverages digital tools and technologies.

Throughout the Challenge, Digital Promise and Ciena will offer professional learning and mentoring opportunities for educators and students as they reach their Challenge solution. All submitted projects will be considered for inclusion in the Ciena Solutions Challenge online gallery showcasing media products created by students as part of their action concepts. These products might include podcasts, digital games, apps, data visualizations, interactive maps, or something else leveraging digital tools and technologies.

As part of the Ciena Solutions Challenge Awards program, eligible educators globally may apply for a $2,500 USD sustainability award (to be awarded to their affiliate educational organization) to sustain or scale their Challenge activities.

Challenge Timeline

  • September 5, 2023: Submission portal opens
  • March 12, 2024, 11:59 PDT: Submission portal closes
  • April 2024: Challenge awardees announced

Eligibility and Submission Requirements

Use of Resources

Anyone can use the resources available on the Ciena Solutions Challenge website. The Resource Library is designed for use by students and educators in middle/junior high and high school/secondary school environments.

Ciena Solutions Challenge Sustainability Awards

The Ciena Solutions Challenge Sustainability Awards program is open to educators working with middle and high school students (i.e., education level equivalent to ages 11-18). Educators must be affiliated with a public school, private school, registered homeschool, or a legally recognized educational organization (e.g., a museum, after-school program, youth agency, etc.). Educators from the same educational organization may submit entries, but only one winning entry from a single educational organization will be selected. More can be found in the Terms and Conditions for the Sustainability Awards. The submission deadline for the 2023-2024 cycle of the Ciena Solutions Challenge is March 12, 2024.

Submission Requirements

Educators may submit student projects to be featured on the Ciena Solutions Challenge Online Gallery at anytime. Educators must submit at least one project to the online gallery in order to apply for a Ciena Solutions Challenge Sustainability Award. Please see submission requirements and judging criteria below. You can also download a detailed version of the submission requirements

Submission requirements for the Ciena Solutions Challenge Gallery

  • The project name and short description
  • The project's big idea and related Sustainable Development Goal(s)
  • The team's essential question
  • A feature photo for your gallery icon
  • A project portfolio in PDF format of no more than 15 pages. Please use this template to create your portfolio.
  • Student Reflection Video Link. (3 minute max). This video is required for any project that will be referenced as part of a Sustainability Award application.This short student-produced video should synthesize the project and include insights from activities, what was investigated and learned, an overview of actions taken, the impact (if any) of these actions on the local community, and how these actions relate to the Sustainable Development Goals. More guidance can be found on this Student Reflection Video Tip Sheet. If you are not including this project in a Sustainability Award application and only wish to share it for the online project gallery, the student reflection video is optional.

Submission requirements for the Ciena Solutions Sustainability Award

  • A description of how the project demonstrates creative use of technology.
  • A description of how your team will benefit from a $2,500 Sustainability Award.
  • A description of any existing resources your team will use to scale and/or sustain your solution. (This might include key people, community support, and organizational structures, along with creative use of existing tools and equipment, to sustain the work. Submission review will consider how sites are planning for continued impact without additional funding or once additional funding ceases.)
  • A budget breakdown of how the $2,500 award will be used to sustain your work.

Sustainability Award Judging Criteria

  • Reflection video (15%): Student-produced reflection video synthesizes the school or organization’s involvement in the Ciena Solutions Challenge, with insights from Challenge activities, what was investigated and learned, an overview of actions taken, the impact (if any) of these actions on the local community, and how these actions relate to the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Purpose and message (20%): Student-produced project portfolio(s) conveys a clear social purpose in response to a real-world problem or concern and related investigations. The action concepts and/or products could have a beneficial impact.
  • Creative use of technology (20%): Submission includes outputs that showcase students’ creative use of technology to address the challenge. Technology is strategically integrated as part of actions taken by students.
  • Use of existing resources (15%): Team identifies existing community resources (e.g. key people, community support, and existing systems, along with creative use of existing tools and equipment). The resources identified will provide sufficient support to sustain the challenge initiative after supplemental funding is used.
  • Use of award funding (30%): Team describes how the award funding will be used to sustain and/or scale the project initiative in conjunction with existing community resources, and shows the benefit of the award funding to the students/class and the students’ community.


Explore our FAQ page to find answers to your questions about the Ciena Solutions Challenge. If you don't see your question listed, please contact us at