(Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
A new Philly incubator program focusing on the health and wellness of millennials, the Well City Challenge, officially kicks off this month.
Late last year, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and Independence Blue Cross put out a call for solutions addressing this issue in three categories: community and social connection, food and nutrition, and mind/body. The challenge was open to anyone — individuals, nonprofits, community groups or entrepreneurs — with a creative idea on how to address these areas of health.
And as of the end of December, the organizations have chosen 15 finalists to begin the virtual incubator produced by the Economy League this month.
“The millennial generation faces many difficult health challenges, unlike other generations before them,” said Marcy Rost, EVP and chief strategy and communications officer for IBX, in a statement. “We are pleased that the Well City Challenge has engaged the community to raise awareness. We’re also excited about these 15 ideas and their potential to improve lives in a meaningful way.”
Each team will be paired with mentors from the Economy League’s network to develop the concepts, and in February, teams will virtually pitch to judges in a “Shark Tank“-like pitch competition who will select one team from each category to receive a prize of $10,000 to support a pilot of their concept. There will also be a people’s choice award of up to $7,500 in each category.
The 15 teams were chosen from more than 100 applicants across five Philly-area counties and 51 ZIP codes, per the Economy League.
“We are thrilled to have received such a diverse representation of community-led applications focused on improving millennial health in Greater Philadelphia,” said Nick Frontino, managing director of the
Economy League. “It’s clear there is no shortage of everyday innovators around our region who want to bring creative solutions to the social sector, and we are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and supporting Well City Challenge teams in their journey toward impact.”
Each category has five finalists (with descriptions adapted from IBX-provided language):
Community and social connection
- Hey, Auntie! — A virtual matching service for millennial and older women to meet and talk
- Hike+Heal — A women’s hiking hive for overall wellness
- Let’s Talk Philly Conversation Circles — A space for millennial immigrants to learn English conversation and social skills
- Mind Your Art — A collaborative that connects community members with hands-on-art making
- The HERO Group Health Coaching Program — Supporting people to make self-directed health and behavioral changes
Food and nutrition
- B.G.H. (Brain Gut Heart) Wellness — A food therapy program to talk about mental health and cooking
- Land-based Jawns — A spiritually rooted org that educates and trains BIPOC women on natural agriculture
- Philly Food Therapy — Provides a holistic healthy food experience for millennials to take to their own kitchens
- The Freedom Greens & Gardens Project — Reimagines West Philly’s Malcolm X Park and the surrounding blocks as a destination for wellness
- The Welcome Spot: Interfaith Connection, Coffee, and Conversation in South Philly — A hyperlocal faith community for millennials
- Philly’s Big Breath — Encourages Black and brown millennials to breathe as a personal act of trauma healing
- Racial Healing & Mindful Transformation in Asian American Community — A space for Asian American millennials to heal from racial trauma
- Shear Balance — A program to bring mental health awareness to beauty salons and barber
- Strides — A program from City Fit Girls, cofounded by former Philly Startup Leaders head Kiera Smalls, that uses running to encourage millennials to prioritize their long-term health
- VeloLingo — A program from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia that will provide immigrant, refugee and underrepresented millennials with virtual bicycle education classes
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