The Innovators Society Awards $50,000 Grand Prize to B.I.O.N.I.C. Team

ARVADA, Colo. (February 13, 2019) – The B.I.O.N.I.C. Team started as a school club at Green Mountain high school. After several suicides in the 2001-02 school year, school counselor Sandy Austin created the club so caring students could connect with people who might be in trouble or feel isolated. The name is an acronym for “Believe It or Not I Care.”

In the years that followed, Austin estimates 1,200 students in several B.I.O.N.I.C. school clubs reached out to more than 140,000 people facing tough times. Inspired to touch even more lives, Austin decided to evolve her school club idea into a nonprofit organization.  When she enrolled in the Nonprofit Pathways program at Red Rocks Community College, Austin learned about The Innovators Society.

The Innovators Society, a program of Community First Foundation, is committed to improving mental wellness by investing in fresh, new ideas to improve awareness, foster well-being and change perceptions of mental illness.

“Through The Innovators Society nonprofit accelerator program, we cultivate the most innovative ideas for improving mental wellness and expand them in Denver communities faster than otherwise possible,” explains Noah Atencio, vice president of community impact.

B.I.O.N.I.C. was one of six innovations selected for The Innovators Society 2.0. The $50,000 grand prize award brings their total funding through this program to $185,050. In addition to funding, Austin received countless hours of training and professional development.

“Hearing from experts in many fields —Community First Foundation staff, coaches, advisors, and the strategy labs —accelerates how we are able to roll out B.I.O.N.I.C. as a new nonprofit,” Austin said. “The money, time, and effort spared through this process will help us have the greatest impact possible. Young people will more effectively be able to handle tough times with the supportive and caring communities B.I.O.N.I.C. creates.”

About The Innovators Society
The Innovators Society, a program of Community First Foundation, invests in promising, but not yet proven, innovations to increase awareness and change perceptions of mental health. We engage a network of passionate community leaders to accelerate new solutions for mental wellness. At Community First Foundation, we power the innovators. For more information, visit

About Community First Foundation
Since 1975, Community First Foundation has been helping generous donors and innovative nonprofits come together to improve the quality of life and create positive change in Jefferson County, the Denver metropolitan area and beyond. We serve as a connector, partner, collaborator and resource to fuel the power of community for the greater good. We are proud to use our energy, leadership and trusted stewardship of financial resources to energize giving across our state, strengthen nonprofits, support donors and find new ways to address community needs. For more information, visit

Contact: Beth McConkey, 720.898.5919