About Challenge Success

Learn more about our mission, vision, founding story, team, and more.



Challenge Success partners with schools, families, and communities to embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning.


We believe that all students should be valued for their own interests, unique talents, and individual definitions of success.

We find that extrinsic metrics such as grades, test scores, and selective college admissions have become the primary markers of success in too many communities.

We know that this narrow definition of success can interfere with healthy child development and effective education, leaving many kids feeling stressed, marginalized, or misunderstood.

We want all kids to do well in school and to master certain skills and concepts, but a largely singular focus on academic achievement has resulted in a lack of attention to other attributes of a successful life.

Our work helps to transform the student experience and foster learners who are balanced, engaged, and prepared for the wide variety of opportunities and challenges they will face as adults.


Our Approach

We believe that real, lasting change requires the entire school community — educators, parents, and students — to both identify challenges and drive the solutions.

This belief is demonstrated in our approach:

  • Grounded in research about effective education and healthy child development
  • Engages and educates all stakeholders in the school community
  • Focuses on elevating the voice and perspective of all students

Commitment to Equity

Challenge Success continuously examines and revises our work to further engagement and well-being for all of our students, schools, families, and communities, including those for whom identity, culture, and socioeconomic status have resulted in exclusion.


Responding to an alarming increase in anxiety, depression, and disengagement among students in the United States, experts in child and adolescent well-being convened at Stanford University in July 2007 to envision a coordinated approach to helping schools and families develop alternative models of success to align with the research on healthy child development.

In response to this meeting, Madeline Levine, Ph.D., Jim Lobdell, M.A., and Denise Pope, Ph.D. founded Challenge Success, an expansion of the highly successful SOS (Stressed-Out Students) Project launched at Stanford University in 2003. 

Utilizing the resources of a prominent advisory board of interdisciplinary experts, 

the co-founders created a research-based organization that develops practical curriculum, conferences, and programs for parents, schools, and kids looking for a healthier, more authentic path to success in the 21st century. 

Challenge Success became a standalone 501(c)3 affiliated with Stanford’s Graduate School of Education in 2011. Since then, the organization has become a trusted “voice of reason” for educators, parents, and students nationwide, and has received significant media attention as well as tremendous public and private support. 

Learn more about how we partner with schools, parents, and students to create a more balanced and engaging learning experience for students.