The Innovators Society, a program of Community First Foundation, is committed to improving mental wellness in the Denver area by investing in fresh, new ideas to improve awareness, foster well-being and change perceptions of mental illness. The Innovators Society supports nonprofits with a nine-month coaching program that develops their mental wellness innovations. At the end of the program, the nonprofit innovators are ready to pitch their ideas at the Community Pitch Showdown for additional funding.
Are you passionate about accelerating new solutions for mental wellness? Want to stay up to date on the latest news and events? Take the first step and subscribe to our Innovators Society newsletter.
At the Community Pitch Showdown on September 30, 2016, community leaders cast their votes in real-time to power the following six innovations. Learn more and lend your support by contacting the innovators directly.
Bright by Text
Bright by Three
Bright by Text sends text messages to parents and caregivers with tips and resources to support children in the early years of life.
Email Jared Wigdor
Patient-Centered Network (PCN) App
Center on Network Science, CU Denver
The PCN App analyzes patients’ social support network data and provides a menu of resources for health care providers.
Email Danielle Varda
Project Helping organizes meaningful and socially engaging volunteer experiences to improve mental wellness and combat depression.
Email Justin Kruger
The Innovators Society selects four to six nonprofits to participate in a nine-month coaching program that develops their innovations and prepares them for a pitch competition. At the pitch event, 250 community leaders are empowered to award $500,000 in Community First Foundation grant dollars to accelerate the innovations into Denver communities. One triumphant nonprofit is chosen to receive a $50,000 grand prize. Each innovation aligns with Community First Foundation’s approach to promoting mental wellness.
“This is by far the most innovative and inclusive approach to grant funding we’ve ever been part of. This program has given us the tools to make a massive impact in the community.” Justin Kruger, founder and CEO of Project Helping
We made a recording so you can see for yourself why The Innovators Society believes the fresh, new ideas of these six innovators will make an impact in Denver.
Bright by Three:
Carson J Spencer Foundation:
Center on Network Science, CU Denver:
Clayton Early Learning:
$80,703 + $50,000 grand prize = $130,703
Watch a photo slide show with highlights from the 2016 Innovators Society Showdown!
The Nonprofit Innovators
Scroll above to learn about the six organizations that comprise the Round One nonprofit innovators.
Coaches support the nonprofit innovators by providing public relations, marketing, strategy and executive coaching. Each nonprofit is supported by a team of three coaches.
|Sue Barlow||Coach & Advisor, Co-founder, Sue Barlow Coaching; HumbleBarlow Leadership||Executive coach for Bright by Three & UCD Denver: School of Public Affairs|
|Cindy Carillo||Coach/Founder, 2 Degrees Coaching||Executive coach for Project Helping & Clayton Early Learning|
|Paul Duba||Principal and Owner, Point-B Coaching||Executive coach for Im’Unique & Carson J. Spencer|
|Tracy Faigin||Chief Marketing Officer, Canopy Health Insurance||Marketing/Communications coach for Carson J. Spencer|
|Ron Gager||Owner, Gager & Associates||Strategy coach for Bright by Three & UCD Denver: School of Public Affairs|
|Rebecca Holmes||Associate Commissioner, Department of Education; Senior Program Officer, Gates Family Foundation||Strategy coach for Im’Unique & Carson J. Spencer|
|Sarah Lehmann||Principal/Strategist, Ebb+Flow Creative||Marketing/Communications coach for Bright by Three|
|Erin Neren||Owner, 3 Story Design||Marketing/Communications coach for Project Helping & Clayton Early Learning|
|Kristina Saccone||Vice President, Local Partnerships, GreatSchools||Marketing/Communications coach for Im’Unique|
|Bill Sonn||Principal, The Sonn Group||Marketing/Communications coach for UCD Denver: School of Public Affairs|
|Jan West||Owner, West and Associates||Strategy coach for Project Helping & Clayton Early Learning|
The Steering Committee
We refer to our steering committee as the “Kitchen Cabinet,” a small group of individuals passionate about improving mental health in our community–folks you would invite into your kitchen for advice. They have helped Community First Foundation develop each stage of The Innovators Society program.
|Joe Conrad||Owner, Cactus Communications|
|Kate Deeny||Master’s Candidate, University of Denver|
|Amy Humble||Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Humble Barlow Leadership|
|Don Mares||Deputy Mayor, Denver; Director, Denver Human Services|
|Emily Reaser||Development Director, Helen and Arthur Johnson Depression Center|
|Jeannie Ritter||Mental Health Ambassador, Mental Health Center of Denver|
The Core 40
The Core 40 consists of community members who are proven leaders and connectors. Core 40 members help nonprofit innovators fine-tune their strategy and pitch presentations, providing feedback, recruiting audience members for the Community Pitch Showdown and awarding the $50,000 grand prize.
|Pat Bolton||Executive Director, Triad Early Childhood Council|
|Brian Corrigan||Creative Strategist, Oh Heck Yeah Project|
|Marci Eads||Managing Principal, Health Management Associates|
|Bill Ernstrom||Founder, Voyant Technologies; Past Board Member, Community First Foundation|
|Chuck Everill||Private Investor; Member, Rotary Club of Denver|
|Renny Fagan||President & CEO, Colorado Nonprofit Association|
|Jim Garcia||Executive Director, Clinica Tepeyac|
|Jason Gaulden||Founder and Principal, Gaulden Group LLC|
|Michele Haney||President, Red Rocks Community College|
|Peggy Hill||Deputy Director, National Behavioral Health Innovation Center|
|Jarrod Hindman||Violence & Suicide Prevention Section Manager, Colorado Suicide Prevention Office|
|Regina Huerter||Director of the Division of Behavioral Health Strategies, Colorado Department of Human Services|
|Joy Johnson||Board Member, The Children’s Hospital of Denver|
|Katie Kruger||Co-Chair, Culture Haus; Founder, Cross Cultured; Growth Principal, SRA International|
|Tony Macklin||Philanthropic Advisor/Consultant, Tony Macklin Consulting|
|Crestina Martinez||Government Relations & Partners Outreach, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing|
|Mimi McFaul||Account Consultant – Behavioral Health, Cactus Communications|
|Carole Peet||President & CEO, St. Anthony North Health Campus|
|Amanda Pennington||Student, University of Denver|
|Andrew Romanoff||President & CEO, Mental Health America of Colorado|
|Cheri Skelding||Clinical Director, Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners|
|Edie Sonn||Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, Pinnacol Assurance|
|Ted Stolberg||Partner, Stolberg Equity Partners; Founder, Beanstalk Foundation|
|Cyd Szymanski||Board Member, CU Depression Center|
|Simon Tafoya||Senior Policy Director, Governor’s Office of Policy, Research and Legislative Affairs|
|Ayelet Talmi||Associate Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics|
|Stephanie Tuthill||Partner, Tuthill & Hughes, LLP; Past Board Member, Community First Foundation|
|Lynne Valencia||Vice President Community Relations, 9NEWS; Board Member, Community First Foundation|
|Gwen Vogel Mitchell||Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, University of Denver|
|Jan West||Owner, West and Associates|
|Julia Wilkinson Manley||Executive Director, Colorado Conservatory of Dance|
250 leaders in the community, including the Core 40 members, are responsible for allocating $1,800 each in Community First Foundation grant dollars among the six nonprofit innovators.