Mayor Calls Students and Educators to Challenge Environmental Quality

Published on December 12, 2023

Office of the Mayor Ron Nirenberg      

SAN ANTONIO (December 12, 2023) - San Antonio Smart - Mayor's K-12 Smart City Challenge offers an opportunity for students to contribute innovative solutions for San Antonio's future.

The SA Smart Mayor’s Challenge is a research and pitch deck competition for student teams in grades 6 - 12.  Each year a theme is picked from San Antonio’s SA Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan. Students identify a San Antonio-specific challenge, complete technical and market research, and propose a solution to the challenge. This year’s focus is Environmental Quality. 

“Engaging younger generations with sustainable and actionable solutions is necessary to ensure a better future for all,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “I’m excited to see this incoming group of civic-minded youth changemakers participate in sustainable development and environmental stewardship in our city.”

Students will tackle real-world environmental issues in San Antonio while enhancing problem-solving skills by developing practical solutions for urban challenges. Participants will work in teams, learn from experts, and gain hands-on experience in research-based project development and presentation skills.

“These students are learning about the environment, water systems, transportation, sustainability, digital inclusion, and more,” said Founder and Chair of SA Smart: The Mayor’s K-12 Smart City Challenge, Cliff Zintgraff. “We are preparing them to be the CEOs, scientists, researchers, thought leaders, elected officials, and advocates of our city’s future.”

Teams must register by December 29, 2023, to participate. Teams are required to attend the Competition Clinic - an interactive session where teams receive insights, tips, and guidance to enhance their projects. Experts in the field of smart city development, environmental management, and entrepreneurship will provide valuable support. The Competition Clinic will take place on January 23, 2024, at UTSA Downtown Campus.

“Participating in SA Smart put my teammates and me in an unknown environment of talking to real experts and proposing real solutions,” said 2020 first place winner Richard Giblin. “This kind of critical thinking experience was more hands-on than other educational experiences and profoundly better.”

The competition continues to draw robust community partnerships in support. This year’s SA Smart partners include the City of San Antonio Mayor’s Office, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Office of Sustainability, and SAMSAT. For additional information, visit