Smile wins Rep. Susie Lee’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Nevada’s Third District

Rep. Susie Lee has named Jolie Li from Clark High School as the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Nevada’s Third District.


When asked what inspired the creation of Smile, the student said, “It started when one day me and my friends were discussing why people with the highest intelligence quotient (IQ) aren’t always the people who find success in their lives the most. We talked about skills that aren’t included in IQ like time-management, empathy, communication, and the ability to be calm in nerve-racking situations. Eventually after a couple Google searches we came across the term emotional intelligence (EQ). We thought ‘If the skills under emotional intelligence affect success in our lives so much, why don’t we just work on improving them?’ Unfortunately, over the course of the next few weeks, starting and continuing what we set out to do did not go as smoothly as we thought it would. Some of us meditated for 4 days whenever we felt like it and gave up, while others tried to take more initiatives in one conversation but never carried it onto the next. It was a pretty casual and small experience between a group of friends, but it made me realize that there are peers my age who are open to improving themselves, it’s just that most of the time we don’t know where to start and what to do. Thus, I had the idea to create the Smile App. If there was an easy application everyone had access to that would help them develop their emotional intelligence, it would positively impact communities and help adolescents develop skills that increase their likelihood of success rapidly. It was a problem among my school, and the realization that something can be created to help, that inspired me to create the Smile App.”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.