Margaret Mead advised, "Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Commensurate with her notion, our engineering education team faces the Grand Challenges with design-based learning. Our inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional team a) implements design-based, active learning experiences to b) engage middle and high school teachers in critical thinking and STEM literacy practices and c) guide them towards fostering STEM learning with considerations for underrepresented groups. Creation of this professional development hails from across disciplines and institutions in an effort to meet complex societal needs with STEM education. We believe that contextualization of design within the framework of global goals provides the learning communities with opportunities to understand that anyone with a STEM education can be a change agent for society. This professional development program, curricula, and developed support network strives to meet the dynamic and multifaceted needs of teachers and students by integrating design-based learning through the context of the Grand Challenges. Constructs of secondary school STEM teaching and learning are shown, the interworking of our team are discussed and exemplar results of successful design curricula are presented.