Finalists Announced in Competition To Combat Social Isolation

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health announced the finalists and winners of the first phase of the MENTAL Health Innovation Challenge to combat social isolation. Launched in June, the challenge will award a total of $750,000 in prizes for development of an easy-to-use online system that offers suggestions for programs, activities, technologies and resources that can help people connect to others and engage in the community, based on their individual needs, interests and abilities. All the challenge information can be found on the website at https://acl.gov/MENTAL.

Thirty-eight proposals were scored individually by multiple judges, and the eight with the highest scores were invited to present their solutions to a panel of judges and answer questions. All eight proposed solutions that are fully accessible and which can be used on both desktop and mobile devices, and most employed cloud-based technology. From those eight, No Wrong Door Virginia’s Social Health Connector and United Way Worldwide’s You Connect were selected to advance to the second phase of the competition. Each was awarded $75,000 to support continued development and testing of their solution as they compete for a first-place prize of $450,000 and a second-place prize of $100,000. The winning system will be announced and demonstrated in January 2021 at CES, an annual trade show produced by the Consumer Technology Association.

The challenge competition is one component of a national public-private collaboration to help older adults and people with disabilities remain active, healthy, and independent – even when physically separated. That effort includes establishment of a coordinating center, which will support the implementation, ongoing development, sustainability, and nationwide availability of the winning solution, as well as a public awareness campaign centered on the system.

View the complete list of winners at https://acl.gov/MENTAL/Phase1winners.

More information about the MENTAL Health Challenge, including deadlines and evaluation criteria, can be found at ACL.gov/MENTAL and at https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/MENTAL-health-social-isolation-challenge.   

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