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.


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 11-19). 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.) Review the Terms and Conditions  for further details about eligibility requirements. Educators from the same educational organization may submit entries, but only one winning entry from a single educational organization will be selected.

Submission Requirements 

Educators may submit student projects to be featured on the Ciena Solutions Challenge Online Gallery through January 31, 2022. Educators must make a submission 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 and judging criteria

Ciena Solutions Challenge Online 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. 

Ciena Solutions Challenge Sustainability Award: 

  • A student reflection video: This short collaborative video should synthesize your school or organization’s involvement in the Ciena Solutions Challenge, with insights from your Challenge activities, what was investigated and learned, an overview of your actions, the impact of these actions on your local community, and how these action relate to the Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • 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%): 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%): Project portfolio(s) conveys a clear social purpose in response to a real-world problem or concern and related investigations. Action concepts and/or products could have a beneficial impact.
  • Creative use of technology (20%): Submission includes outputs that showcase 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.


Still have questions about the Challenge? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions  page for more guidance. You may also contact us at

Share your story

Want to be featured in our Ciena Solutions Challenge documentary? Share your story!

Digital Promise is producing a short documentary about educators' and students' Challenge Based Learning process. We are compiling short reflection videos and "behind-the-scenes" footage of teams working on their project. If you are interested in sharing your team's story, please usethis guid e capture and share footage with us. We can't wait to learn from your team and share your stories with students and educators around the world!

Connect with us on social media 

You can share stories and updates at any time using the hashtag #CienaChallenge and tagging @DigitalPromise on Twitter. You can also follow #CienaChallenge and @DigitalPromise to join our monthly Twitter chats.