Announcements / January 12, 2021

New York City announces winners of civic tech competition to improve and protect mental health of Latinx youth in Upper Manhattan

Through the NYC[x] Co-Labs program, the City awards winners $20,000 and the chance to pilot test solutions to create more accessible mental health support for Latinx youth in the Inwood and Washington Heights neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 12, 2021

CONTACT: Sean Redding, press@thrive.nyc.gov

NEW YORK — The New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) together with the NYC Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC and the communities of Inwood and Washington Heights today announced the winners and honorable mentions for the NYC[x] Co-Labs Accessible Mental Health Challenge, which invited innovative, tech-enabled solutions from startups, technologists, and innovators from across the globe.

The winners for the Accessible Mental Health Challenge are NextStep HealthTech and Me Myself & I. Honorable mentions for the Accessible Mental Health Challenge go to Lessonbee and Studio Elsewhere.

NextStep HealthTech and Me Myself & I will receive $20,000 each and the opportunity to pilot test their solutions in Inwood and Washington Heights, in partnership with the MOCTO, NYCEDC, and ThriveNYC. NextStep HealthTech and Me Myself & I will also gain exposure to networks of NYC city agencies and receive guidance and support throughout the monitoring, evaluation, design and implementation of the pilot project. Throughout the duration of the pilot, MOCTO, NYCEDC, ThriveNYC will evaluate the solutions’ efficacy in meeting the Challenge’s goals and determine next steps.

“The City of New York congratulates NYC[x] Co-Labs Accessible Mental Health challenge winners NextStep HealthTech and Me Myself & I, and honorable mention awardees Studio Elsewhere and Lessonbee,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Laura Anglin. “They proposed well thought out, incredibly creative, and impactful solutions to create more accessible mental health resources for Latinx youth.”

“New York City youth are dealing with unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty in their lives amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, making it essential that we as a City do all we can to provide them with tailored mental health resources,” said John Paul Farmer, Chief Technology Officer of New York City. “The NYC[x] Co-Labs Challenge in Inwood surfaced an impressive range of innovative, culturally competent solutions from challenge winners NextStep HealthTech and Me Myself & I, as well as honorable mention awardees Studio Elsewhere and Lessonbee. We look forward to working closely with these innovators and community members to successfully implement these impactful solutions.”

“The NYCx Co-Labs tech competitions represent an opportunity to impact New Yorkers in a meaningful way,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “As we continue to put equity at the forefront of New York’s recovery efforts, using technology and innovation to expand mental health access will create purposeful change in Inwood and Washington Heights.”

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused New Yorkers stress and anxiety, and our teens and youth are no exception,” said Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “By mobilizing our local tech talent, we are bringing new mental health support and educational resources to our younger New Yorkers where they are and through media that is familiar to them, which will help promote healing, healthier living and emotional wellness.”

“New York City is home to 3.1 million immigrants who comprise about 37 percent of the city’s population. Despite such magnitude, immigrants across the city struggle to find culturally competent mental health services provided by people who look like them and who understand their challenges.” said Oscar J. Romero Jr, Program Director, NYC[x] Co-Labs, MOCTO. “NextStep HealthTech and Me Myself and I propose innovative strategies to work with Inwood and Washington Heights Youth to address such gaps by co-creating multimedia content and empowering narratives on how to deal with a variety of Mental Health conditions. With these pilots we aim to encourage mental health entrepreneurs to step up to the challenge, and design more inclusive services for all New Yorkers.”

“Next Step Health Tech and Me, Myself and I have proposed solutions that will put young New Yorkers at the center of the effort to build tools and community-driven resources that are accessible and inclusive,” said Shanna Crumley, Innovation Advisor, MOCTO. “These pilots will help young New Yorkers learn about mental wellness and access the mental health services and support they need, on their own terms.”

“To promote mental health for the youngest New Yorkers, we are harnessing the power of technology and innovation to expand care and support in communities burdened by historic disinvestment and inequitable access to mental healthcare,” said Susan Herman, Director of the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC. “We look forward to working closely with NextStep HealthTech and Me Myself and I to expand culturally responsive support for youth and combat mental health stigma among Latinx youth in Inwood and Washington Heights. Thank you to the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for their partnership.”

Winners: NextStep HealthTech and Me Myself & I

NextStep HealthTech creates digital health services that are designed for use both with & without clinical augmentation and feature user-friendly design conducive to both self-led & supported health management. Their focus is on providing positive health outcomes through client-centered solutions designed from evidence-based research, integrating leading-edge technologies within solutions to continuously provide superior product experiences. NextStep HealthTech is committed to designing around human-centered empathetic principles to ensure positive user outcomes.

Me Myself & I proposed a choose-your-adventure style comic book called “Heroes Next Door” which focuses on the story of a Latinx superhero charged with saving the world while also working on the mental health challenges that come with being a hero. By creating a character that is viewed and grounded in ’strength” to speak about the mental health challenges that Latinx youth face in their day to day lives, Me, Myself & I hopes to remove the stigma of weakness and normalize conversations about mental health in Latinx communities.

About NextStep HealthTech

NextStep HealthTech is a mission-driven technology company that creates solutions to improve population health and social wellness. NextStep HealthTech develops digital health services that feature user-friendly design conducive to both self-led and supported health management. The company focuses on modernization of health and educational systems, to improve access to mental health resources, as well as those to cultivate health literacy.  NextStep HealthTech is committed to designing around human-centered empathetic principles to ensure positive user outcomes. Accessible support for mental health and substance use conditions is one of the primary drivers for NextStep HealthTech, which bridges the chasm between those in need of support and support resources.

“We are honored to partner with NYC MOCTO, ThriveNYC, and NYCEDC,” said Sam Warach, Founder & CEO of NextStep HealthTech, “to deliver accessible mental health resources to youth in Upper Manhattan at a time when current events weigh especially heavy on youth of all backgrounds, especially on Latinx youth in the area.”

About Me Myself, & I

Me, Myself, & I is a comic book imprint that harnesses the power of sequential storytelling to jumpstart conversations about mental wellness among black and brown youth. Their goal is to remove the stigma of mental health in communities of color. They offer comics as a tool for black and brown youth to break down barriers around mental wellness, be it laugh out loud humor that makes you smile through your challenges or informative materials that help curb the epidemic rise of suicide among black teens (74% increase since 1991), Me, Myself, & I helps by creating comics that address mental health and wellness.

“Me, Myself, & I is humbled to be named a winner of the NYCx Co-Labs Accessible Mental Health Challenge,” says Chris Walker, Creative Director of Me, Myself, & I. “We are enthusiastically excited for the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of Latinx youth in Inwood and Washington Heights. The comic series we publish at Me, Myself & I empowers open discussion to help destigmatize mental health in communities of color. At a time in our world when stress, anxiety, isolation, and feelings of loneliness are so real for so many, Heroes Next Door harnesses the power of sequential storytelling to jumpstart conversations about mental health & wellness among Black and Brown youth towards a goal of removing the stigma of mental health in communities of color.”

Honorable Mention: Lessonbee and Studio Elsewhere

An honorable mention award for the NYC[x] Co-Labs Inwood Accessible Mental Health Challenge goes to Lessonbee and Studio Elsewhere. The judging panel was impressed with both Lessonbee and Studio Elsewhere, who provided well thought out, culturally competent proposals. Lessonbee proposed an online Mental Health Awareness Course that uses simulated text messaging and social media-like experiences to provide culturally responsive skills-based mental health education for kids and teens. Studio Elsewhere proposed a hybrid physical and virtual interactive intervention with a culturally competent model, using scientifically validated practices to support mental health and resilience.

About the Challenge

The NYC[x] Co-Labs: Accessible Mental Health Challenge and the NYC[x] Co-labs: Housing Rights Challenge emerged from a series of participatory workshops with community experts from Inwood and Washington Heights. In August 2018, The NYC[x] Co-Labs Program engaged 35 Inwood/Washington Heights residents, representatives of community-based organizations, entrepreneurs and educators in a series of workshops on housing, education, health, arts & culture, small businesses, and immigrant affairs to identify priority issues in the community. This research was complemented with six one-on-one interviews with local healthcare professionals and stakeholders, one workshop with local tenant organizers, 191 relevant data points from the OneNYC challenge survey, expert interviews, a literature review, and participatory workshops with NYC City agencies.

About NYC[x] Co-Labs

Current sites: Inwood & Washington Heights in Manhattan, and Brownsville in Brooklyn.

Brownsville

  • Community partners in Brownsville: 25
  • Agency partners: MOCJ, DSNY, DOT, NYCHA
  • Participatory workshops: 8
  • Innovation Challenges: 2
  • Youth trained in STEAM: 59
  • Philanthropic Funds Raised: $200K

Inwood

  • Community partners in Inwood: 35
  • Agency partners: ThriveNYC, MOPT, HPD
  • Participatory workshops: 6
  • Innovation Challenges: 2
  • Youth trained in STEAM: 20
  • Philanthropic Funds Raised: $150K

Background

Originally known as The Neighborhood Innovation Labs, and announced by the White House as part of the Obama administration’s “Smart Cities Initiative” in 2015, NYC[x] Co-Labs is a partnership between The Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO) and NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). The program brings together a set of partners — from government, local non-profit organizations, technology companies, foundations —through various events, workshops, and community spaces to accelerate research and development of new technologies that can improve city life.

The backbone of the program is the Community Tech Board, composed of service providers, advocates, tech professionals, academia, government agencies, and community leaders at each NYC[x] Co-Labs site. They channel their expertise to identify and research community priorities—pressing local concerns that may benefit from urban tech solutions. Wherever a Co-Lab is set up, a group of community-based organizations are assembled to define local programming. The community’s self-identified priorities become the foundation for NYC[x] Co-Labs Challenges, calling on tech companies, entrepreneurs, non-profits, and independent innovators to propose tech-based pilot projects that can be deployed to solve real-world problems. Further, the NYC[x] Co-Labs team co-designs with the Community Tech Board Skill Development programs to create pathways for young people in each site to join, and enhance, New York City’s thriving digital economy while also uplifting their local community.

About the New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer

Our mission is to ensure that technology is inclusive, accessible, human-centered, and works for all New Yorkers. We view technology as a critical tool for making New York City the fairest big city in America. Our work is organized around four pillars: Universal Broadband, ensuring high-quality, affordable internet for all New Yorkers; Inclusive Innovation, making New York City the place where new ideas are applied to improve lives; Digital Services, delivering government services online to make government work better for everyone; and Emerging Tech & Society; advancing laws, rules, and plans that promote the public good and protect New Yorkers’ digital rights. Learn more at nyc.gov/cto.

About the New York City Economic Development Corporation

NYCEDC works to make New York City’s neighborhoods and economy stronger and more inclusive. We’re working with and for communities, putting New Yorkers’ needs before everything else. For us, economic development is about more than just the bottom line—it’s about human impact. That’s why we are investing in the jobs, industries, and communities that will drive New York’s economic future and make our city stronger, safer, and more equitable.

About The NYC Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC

The Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC (ThriveNYC) oversees a citywide commitment to promote mental health for all New Yorkers. ThriveNYC partners with 12 City agencies to implement 30 innovative mental health programs that serve hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers every year. Thrive programs reach people with the highest need – those with serious mental illness, those affected by trauma, and those living in historically underserved neighborhoods. Thrive programs also break down barriers to care for all New Yorkers by providing free services in multiple languages, regardless of insurance or immigration status. ThriveNYC’s work prioritizes equity and inclusion and builds the evidence base for innovative approaches. For more information on the reach and impact of NYC Well and all 30 of ThriveNYC’s innovative programs, visit the ThriveNYC Data Dashboard.

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