This fall, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and Independence Blue Cross are collaborating to launch a program focusing on an issue prevalent throughout this and other major cities: the health and wellness of millennials, which currently make up Philly’s largest group of residents.
The two organizations’ Well City Challenge is a social impact incubator seeking solutions addressing the health of this young adult population. An IBX report from last year shows that health issues such as depression, substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder and hypertension were all increasing in young people over the last several years, and that millennials are less healthy overall than Gen X members were at the same age.
The Well City Challenge is seeking community solutions to problems like these and other general health issues across three themes: community and social connection, food and nutrition, and mind/body. The challenge is open to anyone — individuals, nonprofits, community groups or entrepreneurs — who have a creative idea on how to address these areas of health.
It’s an evolution of 2018’s Full City Challenge, which focused on venture solving issues related to food and hunger.
Ideas that are chosen will participate in the challenge’s incubator, pitch competition, mentorship and accelerator programs. Chelsey Lowe, the Economy League’s Impact Labs program manager, told Technical.ly the team took inspiration from a variety of tech incubators here in Philly and across the country when building the programming. They’ll be incorporating common incubator components like user-centered solutions, piloting ideas, mentorship, pitch competitions and demo days across several weeks.
“We want to make more space for experimentation in the social impact sector in Philly and help get folks more comfortable with the idea that testing and failure in the early stages of concept development are important steps on the journey to impact,” said Lowe, who previously worked at Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics Corporate Partners Program and The Enterprise Center.
Applicants can submit brand-new ideas for this challenge or a project or solution they’ve been working on, Lowe said. It’s best suited for idea-stage or early-stage ventures, or existing organizations that are trying to expand into a new market.
Here’s a full look at the programming, via the challenge’s website:
- Until Monday, Nov. 30, the orgs are accepting applications for ideas in the three categories, and will choose five finalists in each. Beginning in January, the finalists will participate in a multi-week incubator including training workshops and mentorship to develop their ideas and related crowdfunding campaigns.
- In February, the teams will gather virtually to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges 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.
- From February through June, the three teams will participate in an accelerator to execute rapid pilot projects, create full business plans, and prepare pitches to funders for seed investment to scale.
- At the end of the accelerator, a funder roundtable will invest at least $50,000 in selected teams.
- And in July, the Economy League will host a public event where teams will report on the results of their pilot projects.
Nick Frontino, managing director of the Economy League, said you don’t need any prior experience running a startup or participating in this kind of program to throw an idea into the ring. Applicants must be 21 years or older, teams may be no more than four people, and at least one team member must live or work in Philadelphia or its surrounding five counties.
“It’s really the ideas that we’re most interested in — what are creative, collaborative and inclusive ways we as a community can help support millennial health?” he said. “We’ll take the best ideas and then work with teams to figure out how to execute on them.”