The Innovators Society, a program of Community First Foundation, invests in promising, but not yet proven, nonprofit innovations to increase awareness and change perceptions of mental health. We engage a network of committed nonprofit innovators, community leaders and community investors to accelerate new solutions for mental wellness.
The Innovators Society selects nonprofit innovators to participate in an accelerator experience that includes initial funding, rigorous coaching, hands-on workshops and the chance to compete for more grant dollars in a pitch competition (Community Pitch Showdown). At the event, community leaders are empowered to award $450,000 in Community First Foundation grant dollars among the innovators to accelerate their innovations. After a period of high-impact coaching, one commendable nonprofit is chosen to receive a $50,000 grand prize. Learn more about the experience >
Launched in November 2017, The Innovators Society 2.0 focuses on reducing the stigma associated with mental health. Mental health stigma is a significant barrier to changing public perceptions of mental health and mental illness. It often prevents individuals from seeking and/or receiving adequate treatment. The Innovators Society 2.0 showcases innovations that are changing public perceptions of mental health and mental illness while reducing mental health stigma.
The selected innovators spent three months with a pitch coach preparing for the Community Pitch Showdown. At the Showdown in June 2018, over 100 audience members awarded $450,000 grant dollars to the nonprofits. The innovators then complete six months of high impact coaching and develop a solid plan for their innovation. They will present their plans at a Grand Prize event in early 2019. Community members will invest one grand prize of $50,000 to the innovation of their choice.
AOPYO engages youth to normalize mental health stigmas through leadership, arts, wellness, skilled trades, and the Apprentice of Peace philosophy and principles.
The B.I.O.N.I.C. Team empowers young people to reach out to students facing challenging times so they know they are not alone.
My Quiet Cave creates spaces for faith and mental health. They tap into the power of faith communities and empower and equip congregations to give people tangible tools and skills, share stories, and experience their value together.
Open Labs is the vehicle behind the Open Movement, placing the people who experience brain conditions (or mental illness) in the driver seat. They are building a world where we all have the hope we need to live openly.
YI’s leadership program, Young Advocates for Healthy Living, trains and empowers young people who are committed to improving mental health care access, and ending stigma on college campuses.
The YouthRoots RAISE Program uses our youth-led civic engagement model to empower high school students to support mental health work and tackle stigma in their schools.
The Innovators Society’s inaugural year advanced five fresh solutions for mental wellness into the Denver metropolitan area. The nonprofits selected were Bright by Three, Clayton Early Learning, Center on Network Science, CU Denver, Im’Unique and Project Helping. These innovations focused on early childhood mental wellness, improving systems and changing public perceptions.
The innovators received an initial $25,000 to pay for coaching and pitch practice to develop their ideas and presentations. The program culminated in September 2016 at the Community Pitch Showdown, where 250 audience members awarded $500,000 grant dollars to the nonprofits. Learn more about these exciting innovations >