The Future Is in Good Hands. These Kids Prove It.

High School students in Philadelphia celebrate after learning they earned a trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Young people are moments away from being tomorrow's decision-makers and at Aspen Ideas, they will meet today's leaders. Students from high schools in Dallas and Philadelphia took top honors at two Aspen Challenge events this spring. The Challenge, an Aspen Institute program, has high school students draw up plans to tackle problems in their communities. The students present their projects and judges decide which teams will present at Aspen Ideas. The students from the three winning Dallas schools proposed plans to help immigrants thrive, provide access to safe transit for everyone, and create a resource center for undocumented people. In Philadelphia, the winning team plans to use art to raise awareness about the school-to-prison pipeline. The Aspen Challenge was launched in 2013 with the Bezos Family Foundation.

Podcast: Does Big Philanthropy Threaten Democracy?
Sizeable donations to philanthropic foundations and institutions can tackle problems government can't address. But large gifts can also threaten democracy. They come with little accountability, preferences from donors, and generous tax subsidies. Stanford political science professor Rob Reich wonders if giving is a way to convert private wealth into public influence. Listen on Apple Podcasts, our website, NPR One, Spotify, and SiriusXM Insight, channel 121.