Glocal Challenge

Glocal Cover Photo

What is the Glocal Challenge?

The Glocal Challenge is a contest-based program facilitated by EF Education First, the City of Cambridge, and the Cambridge Public Schools to help high school students learn critical 21st Century Skills, gain global competence and receive real-world experience in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). Each year, we ask Cambridge Rindge and Latin School students to solve a challenge locally in Cambridge that has global implications. Through the Glocal Challenge, CRLS students will be placed in teams of 3-5 students, spend 8 weeks learning about transportation issues globally and locally, invent a creative idea to solve the challenge in Cambridge, and then pitch their idea to expert judges. The winning student teams will receive a trip abroad for the EF Global Leadership Summit, as well as seed funding from the City of Cambridge to kick-start their projects, and paid summer internships with the City. Additionally, all participants earn 10 community service hours.

Glocal Challenge Winning Teams are implementing their ideas!

Glocal Challenge team Live Bus, will be installing 13 real- time transit displays in 13 businesses around Cambridge over the next two weeks! Their objectives are to encourage people to ride the bus and to make access to real-time bus schedules more equitable. Be on the look out for a Live Bus Real Time Transit Display near you! For a list of participating local businesses, click here

Live Bus Summer Team

Glocal in the News & Social Media

Scout Cambridge: "Meet the Students Who Are Shaping the Future of Transportation in Cambridge"

Cambridge Chronicle: "Cambridge Students Pitch Innovations"

The Cambridge Life blog: "CRLS Students Work to Solve Local Challenges that have Global Implications" 

See what other people are saying about Glocal 2017-18 on social media here and here

Follow the teams' progress on the Glocal Challenge Facebook page and check back here later as well to find out more.

Glocal Challenge 2017-2018 

Summer internships have begun through the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program!

We're out talking to the community and implementing ideas. Follow us on Instagram to see our progress

Emma Canvassing Live Bus canvassing outside of Citywide Senior Center

Glocal Challenge 2018-2019 begins this fall!

CRLS students, keep a watch out for the next Glocal Challenge! This year, we will focus on communicating the realities of climate change! Got ideas for amazing marketing campaigns? Are you a great public speaker? Do you aspire to be a film director? This is the challenge for you!

Sign up to participate during Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Club Week, September 26-27, 2018! 

Glocal Challenge 2017-2018

The Glocal Challenge for 2017-2018 was, "How can we improve sustainable transportation in Cambridge by 2020?"  Throughout the Glocal Challenge, 133 CRLS students were engaged in 8 weeks of intensive learning about transportation and how to make it more sustainable and equitable locally and globally. Students were placed in small teams and used design thinking to formulate creative solutions to improve sustainable transportation in Cambridge, which resulted in them pitching their solutions to a group of expert judges. Five teams won the Glocal Challenge, resulting in paid summer internships with the City of Cambridge, seed funding to implement their projects during the summer, and an all expense paid trip for two of the winning teams to the EF Global Students Leaders Summit in Berlin, Germany.

The five winning teams spent 6 weeks interning with the City of Cambridge Community Development Department this summer to implement their sustainable transportation improvement projects. You can read all about their amazing accomplishments below!

Live Bus Team: Their project goal was to provide 13 local businesses in Cambridge with tablets for displaying real-time public transportation tracking information for their storefront windows. They conducted over 96 surveys throughout Cambridge to determine where residents thought the displays would be most useful. Using that data, they pitched their product to 30 businesses in Cambridge and 13 out of 30 agreed to pilot the display for one year! Then, the team created a website that displays the real-time schedule information for the bus stops within the vicinity of those 13 businesses!

Live Bus Real-time bus display example

Two Lanes Team: The team's project goals included conducting a feasibility study of a separated bike lane on Broadway in Cambridge, resulting in a consultant's report for the City of Cambridge, and increasing community awareness for the construction of the separated bike lane on South Massachusetts Ave. They conducted over 140 surveys from Cambridge residents regarding bicycle safety and utilized that data to inform their recommendations to the City of Cambridge. Click on the link below to review their consultant's presentation! 

Two Lane's Consultant's Presentation! 

Connect Cambridge Team:  Throughout the summer, Connect Cambridge utilized creative storytelling and community engagement techniques to successfully establish their three project goals. The team participated in creative forms of outreach to increase community engagement and awareness for the construction of the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Lane, which was one of their project goals. They rode the 71 and 73 bus lines 8 times over 6 weeks, passing out over 200 postcards to bus riders about the bus priority lane features coming to Mt. Auburn.  Conducting a feasibility study of installing a rush hour bus priority lane on North Massachusetts Ave. for the City of Cambridge, was the second goal the team accomplished this summer. The results of their study will result in the creation of a bus priority lane pilot on N. Mass Ave. on Park(ing) Day, September 21, 2018, which was the team's final goal. To visually tell the story of their outreach journey on Mt. Auburn and the story conveying the need for the N. Mass Ave. Bus Priority Lane, they created two story maps! 

Cam Tran Team:  The Cam Tran team experienced a great project pivot over the summer. Their original goal was a create a way finding app based on bicycle level of comfort and safety not just speed. After weeks of surveying Cambridge residents, their data indicated that 50% of people felt uncomfortable cycling in the city. The team decided the best use their time and data was to suggest level of comfort improvements to an existing platform used by people that cycle, Google Maps. This resulted in the team creating a business pitch and pitching their ideas to the Google business and maps team! 

Check out their business pitch here! 

Transportation Transformers Team: During their summer internship,Transportation Transformers worked closely with Blue Bikes and the City's Environment and Transportation Division to create a youth discount program for Cambridge youth between 16-19 years old. A Blue Bikes annual membership is $99, but thanks to the team's great Glocal project goal and hard work over the summer, youth can now only pay $25! The team will continue working towards their project goal to sign youth up for discounted Blue Bikes memberships throughout the school year. 

Sign up for a $25 annual Blue Bikes membership here! Discount Code: COCYouth

Glocal Team Transportation Transformers

Glocal Challenge 2016-2017

The challenge for 2016-2017 program was: “How can we reduce food waste in the Cambridge community?”  Through the Glocal Challenge, CRLS students were placed in teams of 3-5 students, spent 8 weeks learning about issues of food waste and food security globally and locally, invented a creative idea to reduce food waste in Cambridge, and then pitched their idea to expert judges. The top three winning student teams received a trip to Italy for the EF Global Student Leaders Summit and the top five teams received seed funding from the City of Cambridge to kick-start their projects during their paid summer internships with the City. Additionally, all participants earned 10 community service hours.  

So in summer 2017, the five teams got to intern with the City of Cambridge Community Development Department and implement parts of their projects with the seed money they won. The summer internship for the winning teams started on Wednesday, July 5th, 2017. You can read on below for more information about what each of the teams did!


The Biodiesel Team

During the summer, the biodiesel team conducted several outreaches to the local restaurants in the City, surveying them and providing more information about what to do with used cooking oil.

The Anaerobic Digester Team

The digester team researched and compared the economics, greenhouse gas emissions, and educational benefits of various food waste reduction and food repurposing methods for the City, including installing an anaerobic digester. The team then presented their research to the City. You can find their final report here.

The Expiration Dates Team

The expiration team created and distributed informational materials about expiration dates and saving money spent on wasted food at various outreaches. You can find their brochure here and also find more information on the lifespan of different kinds of food on

The Compost Stickers Program Team

The Sticker team ran a sticker competition pilot program to increase citizen composting participation in the Curbside Compost Pilot and participated in door-to-door awareness outreach about composting. You can find their final reports here and here

The Waste Reduction Kit Team

The waste reduction kit team put together and distributed 200 units of food waste reducing kit to lower and middle-income households in person. The kit included items to help keep food fresh for longer as well as other educational materials for reducing food waste and increasing composting. Their final report can be found here


Glocal Challenge 2015-2016

The challenge for 2016-2017 program was to focus on energy use in Cambridge as part of the City's effort to win the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize. Between October and December of 2015, in teams of 3-5, students learned about energy use globally and locally, developed a creative plan to reduce energy in Cambridge, and then pitched their idea to expert judges. The top two winning student teams received a trip to Iceland for the EF Global Student Leaders Summit in March, and the top five teams received seed funding from the City of Cambridge to kick-start their projects during their paid summer internships with the City. Additionally, all participants earned 10 community service hours.  

Glocal_2016_studentsPower Saviors Winning

Power Saviors

The Power Saviors are a group of young, dedicated high school students who won the Glocal Challenge competition at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) in 2016. The Glocal Challenge is an 8-week competition hosted by CRLS, EF Education First, and the City of Cambridge to propose solutions to global challenges with local implications. In 2016, the challenge was to decrease energy use in our community by 2017 in order for Cambridge to win the Georgetown University Energy Prize. As winners of the popular vote, the Power Saviors worked with the Community Development Department to research the most effective locations for installing kinetic energy tiles in Cambridge. Kinetic energy tiles are tiles that generate energy after there is pressure applied to them (footsteps, bicycle wheels, cars, etc). The energy is then stored in a battery and can be used to power lights, appliances, or other utilities.

According to team members Nitant Rimal and Hassan Gudal, both CRLS Juniors: “We knew that some parts of Cambridge were heavily populated with tourists, students, etc. We decided to take advantage of this, and decided to propose kinetic energy tiles.”

In the summer, the students collected data by counting the amount of people who walk, skate, bike, or drive through Harvard Square, Kendall Square, Inman Square, and Porter Square. From the data that was gathered, it was determined that the best places to put the tiles were Harvard Square and Kendall Square. For example, in front of one restaurant in Harvard Square there was an average of 1,500 footsteps per hour. Each footstep generates about 4 watts, which is an average of 6,000 watts per hour. For context, it takes 10-20 watts to power a tablet for an hour.  In addition to the energy produced, the Power Saviors feel that the tiles are a great educational and awareness-building resource for Cambridge.

Team members Hayley Swope, Maroua Oudani, and Ginely Baltodano have been strong advocates for the project for the past year. “After winning the Glocal Challenge, the next step was to try to get funding through the City via Participatory Budgeting. We submitted our idea, and worked hard to get as many votes as possible. We went room to room in the school classrooms to gather many votes!”

The Power Saviors submitted their kinetic energy tile proposal to Participatory Budgeting over the summer.  And guess what? They won! The students were able to successfully advocate for $50,000 to be allocated for purchasing and installing energy-producing tiles during the next fiscal year.

You can find the original article here.

Kinetic Energy Floor

For more information about the Glocal Challenge and how to be involved as mentors or experts, contact Jennifer Lawrence at