The 2022 Wright Collegiate Challenge is a hands-on, spring semester challenge for select students enrolled full-time in the following programs:

Colorado Mesa University’s Outdoor Industry Studies Program
Colorado Mountain College – Leadville Campus – Outdoor Education Program
Western Colorado University’s Outdoor Industry MBA Program.

Over the course of the 12-week challenge, student teams are paired with businesses, nonprofits, and partner organizations, including the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, and introduced to a range of pivotal issues facing the outdoor industry. Over the course of the competition, students are tasked with developing actionable solutions to challenges facing businesses and communities at the forefront of today’s rapidly-evolving outdoor recreation economy.

Check out the 2021 WCC Recap

Via the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade

The Program Framework

Each year, The Wright partners with organizations representing a mix of business and nonprofit organizations to present a set of challenges reflecting real issues being addressed in real time by selected Challenge Partner organizations. Interested businesses and nonprofits are asked to submit a proposed challenge-statement, summarizing a specific project for students to address.

A wide range of outdoor-focused challenges are evaluated each year and final selections are determined by an array of considerations, including:

  • Challenges are identified in one of three tracks – People, Product or Place
  • Regional Relevance: Challenges which present students the opportunity to meet in person, tour business facilities and/or participate in field visits, provide valuable hands-on learning opportunities for students.
  • Participation Commitment: Ability to commit to required meetings, virtual or in-person, and overall time required in order to support assigned student teams over the course of the project.
  • Highly engaged Challenge Partner & Student Team relationship. A primary factor in providing a win-win experience for students and Challenge Partners alike is active engagement on behalf of both groups.

Student teams will be expected to address their respective challenge assignments through five central impact areas impacting the outdoor recreation industry sector. These include:


How It Works

In partnership with the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, Colorado Mesa University’s Outdoor Industry Studies Program, Colorado Mountain College’s Leadville Campus Outdoor Education Program and Western Colorado University’s Outdoor Industry MBA Program, The Wright Collegiate Challenge offer students the experience of working on real-time issues facing the outdoor sector in collaboration with select businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Challenges submitted for consideration are reviewed and selected in with our Academic Partners. Once selected, Challenge Partners and their respective problem statements are introduced to participating students. Students in turn will identify the challenges that reflect their personal interests and academic needs, allowing The Wright to form teams accordingly.

The Wright works closely with participating higher education partners to attract committed, eager-to-learn students who may be seeking a long-term career in the outdoor industry. Throughout the program, Academic Partners are expected to advise their students, and teams are expected to commit to conducting research, and developing viable and forward-looking solutions to the problem outlined by their Challenge Partner. Students are welcomed to expand on projects for their academic work or capstone projects as the basis of their entry.

Details & Expectations

Over the course of 12-weeks, participating Challenge Partners are expected to commit a total of (10-15) hours in support of student teams and their respective projects, including but not limited to email communications, virtual meetings, and workshops.


In addition to working alongside their respective student teams, Challenge Partners will present their problem statement in January at a virtual kick-off event. Then, on a to-be-determined date in April 2022, Challenge Partners are asked to support their student teams by attending a hybrid live-online event featuring project presentations and an awards ceremony.



  • Apply to be a Challenge Partner. Deadline for applications is December 1, 2022
  • Selected Challenge Partners will be notified by December 15, 2022
  • Present official challenge at the hybrid kick-off event in January 2022 (dates TBD)
  • Commit 10-15 hours in support of student teams; including but not limited to email communications, virtual meetings, and workshops
  • Attend 3-90 minute student led workshop and engage thoughtfully
  • Attend your students final project presentation in person or online and provide feedback in April 2022 (dates TBD)
Competition Details

Between now and December 15, 2021, The Wright team members will work with Academic Partners to finalize challenges and Challenge Partners. Problem statements will be presented at the virtual kick-off event slated for late January. Immediately following the kick-off event, Wright team members will form student teams consisting of 3-5 people. Then Challenge Partners will participate in a three-part series of online workshops over February – March, led by their student teams. Final projects will be submitted the first week of April and be concluded by a hybrid final event featuring live presentations and awards later in the month.

Key Dates

The following information sets forth an anticipated timeline and general outline of the role and responsibilities of the Challenge Partners:

December 1: Deadline for Challenge Partner applications.

December 15: Challenge Partners will be notified of their selection for participation in the 2022 Challenge.

December 15 – January 11:  Work with The Wright team to develop an engaging and actionable challenge and corresponding problem statement. For reference, 2021 Challenge Partners and problem statements are listed below.

Last week of January or first week of February: Join the official kick-off of the 2022 Wright Collegiate Challenge, a hybrid event introducing students to this year’s slate of challenges and Challenge Partners.

February 1 – March 31: Meet virtually with your student team(s) three times at minimum. Plan to spend approximately 90-minutes per session together. These meeting-workshops are generally student-led, allowing students the opportunity to provide updates, ask questions, and further brainstorm around their respective challenge.

Mid-Late April: Participate with your team in the culminating event of The Wright Challenge. Expect an exciting program of presentations, and the selection of Best in Class Award by a panel of industry professionals. This is a rewarding opportunity to see your student team(s) at their best, as well as a chance to see the work of the other student teams and Challenge Partners.

Program Highlights
  • Student-led 3-Part Workshop Series with Challenge Partner
  • Final Event with Live Presentations & Review
  • Certificate of Participation issued by The Wright & CO OREC Office
  • Best in Class Awards
Student Deliverables

The Wright Collegiate Challenge is a learning experience for students and Challenge Partners alike. With the aim of providing innovative and actionable solutions to the problems set forth by Challenge Partners, participating students are required to provide three primary deliverables at the end of the Challenge.


  • Written response proposal to the Challenge Partner: Student teams are required to develop a four-to-six-page paper outlining the challenge, and the team’s proposed solution(s).
  • One single slide: Which represents a high-level overview of the written response.
  • Video summary of response: Student teams will be required to record a three-minute video outlining their project, major outcomes and highlighting any other notable aspects of their journey through the challenge.


Final projects will be judged by a panel of industry professionals and assessed based on a wide-array of criteria, including:  


  • Attention to central impact areas affecting the Outdoor Recreation Industry
  • Did the team include thoughtful analysis regarding the challenge and its relationship to the five impact areas set forth at the outset of the program — Conservation & Stewardship; Education & Workforce Training; Economic Development & Opportunity; Public Health & Wellness; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?
  • Innovative thinking and problem solving
  • Did the team demonstrate a clear understanding of the challenge and present an innovative solution?
  • Is the team’s problem-solving approach well-reasoned and thorough?
  • Project viability
  • Is there tangible evidence the solution is on track (even initially) to solve the challenge problem?
  • Is the team’s solution economically viable and sustainable?
  • How well did the team vet the concept with potential partners, users, and/or customers?

Last Year’s Challenge Partners


Eureka! McConnell Science Museum strives bring to hands-on math and science curriculum to the community of Mesa County. Eureka recently started outdoor adventure programming and has struggled to provide equitable outdoor programming to the Clifton community. The students’ challenge is to develop a permanent solution to address the lack of convenient and safe access from Clifton schools to the miles of trails in the Grand Junction/Clifton area.


Participants are tasked with developing a strategy to educate, inform, and persuade key stakeholders about the importance of the Dark Sky Initiative. The ideal goal is driving the community’s strategy of building a strong outdoor recreation economy to support economic development. Target audiences for buy-in include regional county commissioners and public land agencies.


Fishpond’s commitment to the health of habitats and species around the globe is foundational to our identity. One way we show our commitment to the future of the environment is through our B-Corporation Certification. With the countless hours of work that go into that certification, we are looking to leverage our B-Corp status as a marketing and communications tool. How can Fishpond educate consumers about the value of a B-Corp Certification and integrate it into the company’s brand identity?


There are over 500 climbing gyms in the U.S. However, many gyms are not trained in adaptive climbing best practices for individuals with physical disabilities. Via their Adaptive climbing Initiative, how can Paradox Sports increase climbing gym participation in the adaptive climbing training program in order to increase access for individuals with physical disabilities?


In looking to identify a new, more portable and sustainable solution for carrying Tailwind Nutrition endurance fuel, the company is out to gain a better understanding of the key drivers for market acceptance. And, ultimately introduce a unique line of packaging which results in less waste and greater portability.


Our challenge is to establish a set of Product Impact Standards around our company’s sustainability efforts. Specifically, we are looking to establish a standard for calculating our company’s carbon footprint, measuring that footprint, and then devising a plan to make subsequent reductions.


Chuck Sullivan, Executive Director, The Wright: chuck@somethingindependent.com 

Lorin De Spirito, Community Manager: lorin.despirito@western.edu

The Collegiate Challenge is a project of The Wright, a Colorado-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and is presented in a  programmatic partnership with the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, a division within the greater Colorado Office of  Economic Development and International Trade. The OREC Office serves as the State’s central coordinator of outdoor recreation industry matters, which includes policy and resource development, industry promotion, and connection with the constituents,  businesses, and communities that rely on the health of the State’s outdoor recreation economy.