Meet the Innovators

First Cohort

From April to August, 2016, 10 winning teams from our inaugural round of funding worked with us and our partners, the renouned design firm IDEO, to apply Design Thinking to their ideas to use technology for teen pregnancy prevention. In August of that year the ten teams presented their ideas in a kind of "Shark Tank" contest in front of a panel of judges.

First, we give you the five winners of the second round of funding. These projects were chosen to receive up to $325,000 to develop their innovative technology interventions over 18 months, a period that ended in June 2018. 

Project Name 
Okayso

The Team: Francisco Ramirez (Sexual Health Expert and Personality) Will Luxion  (CTO, Playerbase)  Elise Schuster  (CEO, okayso)   

How Might We meet teens where they are to answer their questions about sex, love, relationships, and stress in an anonymous way?  

Description

okayso is working to advance their original mission: to meet teens looking for support and information where they are. okayso is a free app for iOS that connects users with questions about sex, dating, identity, stress, and more to teams of vetted experts that they couldn't reach any other way for support and information. After being featured on the Apple App Store twice and hosting over 7,000 conversations with users, the team is currently seeking to expand their funding and their platform. okayso hopes to build out their platform to further engage users, whether or not they have a question to ask. Their most enthusiastic users are 16-22 year olds and who live in the United States and Canada. 

Check it out:  

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Project Name 
Starting the Conversation: Leveraging EHR Templates to Help Reluctant Providers Talk to their Adolescent Patients About Sexuality and Pregnancy Prevention

The Team:Amber Eisenmann (Director, Learning Exchange, California Family Health Council), Breione St. Claire (Project Director, California Family Health Council), Karen Peacock  

How Might We use electronic health records to help healthcare providers have more meaningful conversations with their patients about sexuality and pregnancy intention?  

Description 

This team sees a future where electronic health records (EHR) are used for more than just collecting data. The name of their application is My Doctor & Me. They wonder how EHR scripts and prompts might equip providers with the language they need to talk to their teen patients about sexuality and pregnancy prevention, to identify their needs and preferences, to prescribe contraception when needed, and to suggest resources. They believe new EHR templates, which can eventually be integrated into systems nationwide, will help providers, “ ‘fake it till they make it,’ acting as training wheels to get them started in their efforts to discuss these topics.” They are currently pilot testing this technology in two health centers in Los Angeles, CA. 

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Project Name 
Momentos: Empowering Hispanic/Latino Parents to Talk to Their Kids About Pregnancy Prevention

The Team: Julie Yegen (Senior Digital Media Associate, Westat), Sarah Paredes 

Description 

The Momentos team is passionate about creating tools and messages that empower Hispanic/Latinx parents to have better conversations with the youth in their lives. They used interviews with Hispanic/Latinx parents and professionals as the basis to create, test, and refine what is now, Momentos, a Spanish-language text messaging service that provides weekly, practical advice to parents. The texts are customizable based on the age and gender of the children, and guide parents through teaching about sexual health and preventing unplanned pregnancies. 

 

The best part about Momentos is that it works —91 percent of parents enrolled in Momentos used content to initiate conversations about sexual health with their children. Their hope is to secure more funding to continue the program and expand it by creating more original resources. 

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Project Name 
An Instant Gratification Situation

The Team: Liz Romer (Children's Hospital Colorado)

Description
In order to reach teens who are not currently seeking birth control services, the trio behind An Instant Gratification Situation wants to create content, stories, resources, and messaging that fits into the lives of today's teen. Building on the success they have had developing content for the BC4U program, they have a particular interest in creating more content to distribute in the social media channels where teens are active today. But they also have an idea that creating a very personal way to make appointments with providers—even asking questions beforehand—can be a difference-maker in helping young people get reproductive healthcare.

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Project Name 
MyHealthEd, Inc.

The Team: Liz Chen (Doctoral Student, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health) Vichi Jagannathan, (MBA candidate, Yale School of Management), Cristina Leos (Doctoral Student, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health) 

Description 

In 2016, the team founded a new tech nonprofit called MyHealthEd, Inc. Their mission is to use human-centered design to improve the health and well-being of youth of every identity. They launched the first version of the Real Talk app in the iOS App Store in September 2017 and have had over 10,000 users to date from all U.S. states and more than 100 countries. Real Talk is a mobile app that connects teens 13-15 years old with authentic stories and trusted resources on sensitive topics to help them know they are not alone. Real Talk crowdsources anonymous stories from teens on important topics like puberty, mental health, bullying, and healthy relationships. These stories are carefully reviewed by public health professionals and paired with high quality online resources on the topic before being published to the app. Teens can search for topics that are most relevant to them, and support other users in the app using positive emoji reactions. Teens can also submit their own stories directly within the app using a new interactive chatbot features that guides teens through the storytelling process. Since its launch, users have read over 100,000 stories and accessed more than 5,000 online health resources! 

 

Check it out: 

 

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Below are the other five winners of the first round of funding and their original descriptions. Many, if not all, of the teams will continue to develop their ideas and seek investors. To learn how we decided upon the group of 10 teams for the initial round of funding, please view the page detailing how the winners were selected

 

Project Name 
The It Kit

The Team: Margot Mausner, Producer, ISL, Washington, DC; Maggie Gaudaen, Art Director, ISL, Washington, DC; Julian Gindi, Lead Infrastructure Engineer, ISL, Washington, DC

Description 
The It Kit Team wonders, “How might we reduce the rate of teen pregnancy by providing teens with the knowledge and supplies to lead healthy, sex-positive lives?” The team intends to explore the idea of a subscription service—think Birchbox or Trunk Club for birth control—that will make it fun and tactile to learn about safe sex. Through some new technology wizardry that the team will invent, teens who receive the box will be able to interact with the objects in it by text message. This will give them an easy, private way to ask questions. The It Kit has the potential to improve the customer service aspect of birth control decision-making by making it engaging and informative.

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Project Name 
Love Life Rules

The Team: Cindy Carraway-Wilson, Director of Training, Youth Catalytics, Charlotte, VT; Sixto M. Cancel, CEO, Think of Us, Richmond, VA; Somiah Lattimore, Chief Creative Officer, Think of Us, Richmond, VA

Description 
The goal of the Love Life Rules Team project is to reduce pregnancies and STIs in youth in, or formerly in, foster care by helping them articulate, set, and adhere to personal rules for healthy romantic relationships. If the design process confirms their hunch, Love Life Rules will be a comprehensive, interactive, sequential self-coaching experience for web and mobile applications that will help foster care youth gain concrete, practical knowledge about dating, healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, and sexuality (including pregnancy and STI prevention).  This work will be a tailored experience for an audience often overlooked.

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Project Name 
Don’t Make It Weird

The Team: Susan E. Williams, Founder and Lead Principal, Agency Other, Santa Monica, CA; Becky Reitzes, Consultant in Public Health, Family Planning and Sexual Health Education, Seattle and King County, WA; Annie Hoopes, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Adolescent Medicine Section, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, CO

Description 
The central question the Don’t Make it Weird Team plans to address is “How do we catalyze parents, guardians and other supportive adults to promote positive sexual health among young people and reduce teen pregnancy?” The team is interested in the potential to connect parents to timely, modern resources and tools that optimize their ability to support the sexual and reproductive health needs of children and adolescents. Research shows that young people want parents and guardians to discuss sexual health and that it can have a huge impact. Still, there are too few technology-driven interventions for this parent and guardian audience. We think the Don’t Make It Weird team is the perfect group to take this on. 

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Project Name 
Juntos

The Team: Helen Hua Wang, Assistant Professor of Communication; Research Assistant Professor of Community Heath and Health Behavior, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY; Hector Ceballos, Manager, Research and Development, Wise Entertainment, Los Angeles, CA; Laura Davis, Division Director of Adolescent Sexual Health Services, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Advocates for Youth, Washington, DC

Description 
The Juntos Team plans to engage Latino tweens and teens, along with important people in their social networks, to co-create a sustainable platform to share compelling stories, build critical skills, and take real actions to promote their sexual and reproductive health. This team is trying to include the person’s social surroundings in delivering sexual health information. It could be thought of as the “East Los High Method” as all team members have experience with that hit show and understand the value of storytelling and modeling to change behavior. The field needs more engaging and socially relevant approaches to presenting sexual health information and the Juntos team brings that.

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Project Name 
VizClinic: First person exploration virtual reality game
 
The Team: Bhupendra Sheoran, Executive Director, YTH, Oakland, CA; Alex Medina, Digital Communications Officer, YTH, Oakland, CA; Vianey Twyford, Youth Advisory Board Member, YTH, Oakland, CA

Description
The VizClinic team wants to revolutionize the way young people experience the delivery of sexual health services. They see an existing gap between service availability and utilization, and attribute at least some of it to the fear and anxiety teens have about what to expect during a clinic visit.  Their proposal for bringing more teens into clinics is to first bring the clinic to the teens through a first-person virtual reality game. They hypothesize that an immersive experience where teens can visit a clinic, ask questions, and advocate for themselves will increase youth’s self-efficacy and empowerment, allowing them to access services with confidence. We think this is the team to bring a novel virtual reality experience to our field.

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