Nowly, Teachers Life award over $60,000 in grants to young Canadian entrepreneurs

Winning projects aim to address mental health issues

Nowly, Teachers Life award over $60,000 in grants to young Canadian entrepreneurs

Life & Health

By Mika Pangilinan

Insurance platform Nowly and Teachers Life Insurance have named the nine grant recipients of the Press Start CoLab Program.

With $50,000 in seed funding from Nowly and Teachers Life, alongside an additional $11,000 from OTIP, these recipients can continue developing original programs that address mental health issues impacting communities across Canada.

The Press Start CoLab Program was launched in 2022 to support young leaders, activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and critical thinkers looking to develop solutions to social issues confronting Canadians today.

The 10-week accelerator program provided 50 youth participants access to industry experts and mentors, who guided them through the process of developing projects focused on the accessibility and navigation of mental health services, stigma and misinformation surrounding mental health, diversity and cultural sensitivity in mental health resources, and inclusive and evidence-based research on mental health.

A panel of judges evaluated the proposals submitted by the 2023 Press Start CoLab participants and allocated funding to the following projects:

·       Frog Pockets by Chey Kidd: A clothing company serving Canadians with sensory needs. 

 ·       Our Safehouse by Sierra Patey: A not-for-profit “recovery café” offering online services to help those grappling with suicidal ideation navigate mental health services and social support systems.

·       Reset by Alexander Lam: An app designed to empower individuals to take control of their mental well-being and manage anxiety through cognitive behavioural therapy.

·       CogniLink by Mathew Gaiser and Nicholas Lor: A platform providing mental health researchers with ready-to-go cohorts of potential study participants. 

·       The Chronic Illness Group Program by Karima Leslie: A virtual program for female creatives, entrepreneurs, and aspiring business owners with invisible, physical, chronic illnesses. 

 ·       Rural Queer Survival Guide by Mabe Kyle: An initiative to make mental health resources developed by and for rural 2SLGBTQIAP+ youth more accessible across rural Canadian communities.

 ·       jargon by Karen Huo: A virtual “science café” connecting young scholars and academics with local communities to facilitate the dissemination and promotion of mental health research.

·       Trans Healthcare Database by Ilya Robinson: A centralized resource providing access to information and healthcare to deliver better mental health outcomes for trans youth.

·       Plan Gratitude by Eileen Danaee: An online platform available in both English and French, allowing middle and secondary school students in participating Canadian schools to send anonymous messages of gratitude to anyone within the same school community

Martha Turner Osborne, chief marking & innovation officer of Nowly Insurance, a division of Teachers Life, expressed her optimism about the potential impact of these projects.

“The mental health crisis today is both multi-faceted and unprecedented, but there is hope,” she said. “Each of the program participants brought unique lived experiences and insights to their proposals, and it’s inspiring to see how passionate and committed they each are to making a difference for all Canadians. Nowly and Teachers Life would like to thank everyone who participated in the 2023 Press Start Co-Lab, with special thanks to partner OTIP for the additional funding that enabled us to expand the grant recipient pool.”

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