Children’s Mental Health Innovation Awards

Our program aims to seed fund transformative mental healthcare solutions for children across the U.S. It helps address the lack of investment in youth mental health, connect innovative ideas with capital, and build capacity for nonprofits. 
The Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health was created to address a serious and growing problem for the next generation. With the Innovation Awards, we hope to further this goal by identifying and advancing new, impactful ways to help address mental illness in children and young adults.
Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Stanley and Chair, Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health Advisory Board

Announcing 2024 Winners

Learn more about the game-changing work being done to support children's mental health.

View Past Winners here
2024 Winner
Amal Alliance
Colors of Kindness for Vulnerable Kids
2024 Winner
Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
First-Gen Teen Center
2024 Winner
Give Us The Floor
LGBTQ+ Supportive Group Chats
2024 Winner
Our Minds Matter
Community-based Peer Clubs
2024 Winner
Upstream Education
Bite-sized Tools for Student Well-being

About the Program

This annual initiative invites U.S.-based 501(c)(3) public charities to submit innovative ideas for advancing children’s mental health. Five winners are selected and a broader group of applicants are invited to join a Leadership Learning Series. View FAQs for more information.

  1. Funding

    Each winner receives $100,000 in seed funding

  2. Recognition

    Winners raise their profile and showcase their program

  3. Networking

    Winners learn from peers and build powerful connections

  4. Learning

    Select applicants receive expert-led leadership training

Interested in Applying?

Applications are currently closed. The next call for applications will start in early May. 

2023 Winners

RACHEL MILLER - FOUNDER & CEO

00:01 - 00:30

The average delay between the onset of mental health issues and intervention is 10 years. So we are really bad at early intervention and I believe that's why we're seeing this huge youth mental health crisis now.

Closegap is just a way to make it really easy for children to share what's going on with them and equally as easy for school staff to intervene and offer support when it's needed.

00:30 - 01:28

Schools are by far the best place to meet students and support their mental health,

yet they're the most understaffed and underresourced. So at Closegap, we are solving that problem using technology.

We created a daily mental health check-in that students complete before they start their school day. It's a very quick process, asking very simple questions, like “how are you feeling?” “Is everything okay at home?” “Are you feeling lonely?” And we take that data and we organize it in ways that school staff can intervene on it in real time.

So it's this idea of listening at scale. And then in addition we have a tool that takes the wealth of data that we are collecting and we provide it to schools and districts so they know exactly what’s going on with their student population and can put system-level interventions in place that actually solve the problems.

01:28 - 01:48

Currently, the platform is being used across all 50 states, adopted into 25 other countries. So there's a lot of opportunity here, but our goal is to really serve all of the kids in the U.S., give them a really easy way to reflect on their experience and ask for help if they need it.

2023 Winner
Closegap

SUSAN TELLONE - CLINICAL DIRECTOR

00:01 - 00:12

We are in crisis. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among our youth and it's preventable.

And so that's what drives us here at The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.

00:15 - 01:07

Our mission is really to save lives through education as we increase awareness of what to look for, when to be concerned and how to seek help. We are trying to get to the people who have their eyes on our children and really have the opportunity to have impact.

The Adolescent Clinical Training for nurses is really born out of what we started doing in schools and now we're bringing it to a hospital setting. We have nurses every day that are working with kids that have medical trauma, and they are that trusted adult for these kids that are enduring mental anguish. And so why not give those nurses the tools they need to do the work with confidence and competence?

 

SUSAN WITH NURSES

After 40 years of doing this work I am so optimistic about change.

01:08 - 01:47

We will be working with at least 600 nurses to start teaching them how to have these conversations. But we'll also be putting in a train-the-trainer model, so the model is sustainable.

I know that this program can change lives not just in New Jersey, but nationally. Prevention is the goal and our health care providers are on the front lines. Giving them the tools that can live in their hospitals for years to come is the piece of the puzzle that is missing.  So I’m optimistic. I see change coming and I know that we are going to save more and more lives.

NATHANIEL MCLEROY - OUTREACH AND ENGAGEMENT DIRECTOR

00:01 - 00:12

So many young people that interact with law enforcement have experienced traumatic events. What we're seeing is a need and not enough resources being able to meet the need.

00:15 - 00:49

Strategies for Youth wants to educate young people on what trauma looks like, what it feels like, and then giving them better mechanisms for coping with it.

We talk to different agencies and organizations that work directly with young people and train them on how to engage using Juvenile Justice Jeopardy.

We have two games, one focused on general trauma and one on LGBTQ+ youth. Gamification engages young people in a way that meets them where they are, particularly when it comes to mental health and trauma.

KRISTEN WHEELER - STAFF ATTORNEY

00:50 - 01:19

When we work with young people, we're trying to educate them on core concepts that are sometimes abstract. And so we have basically gamified this information. We have created games for young people that we've been using for over 10 years across 24 different states.

The model of our games is to be a train-the-trainer model. We want to maximize the number of young people this game is reaching, the number of young people getting this education.

NATHANIEL MCLEROY

 

01:20 - 01:37

I’m hopeful that technology will be so impactful that we begin to use it nationally to combat the rise in mental health issues that we have.

When people understand themselves and what they're going through better, they can make better decisions. 

LUELLA PROVENZA - CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER

00:01 - 00:19

Oftentimes we just expect coaches to be able to show up and engage kids.

It's really important that coaches are trained in the foundations of youth development and to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health challenges, because oftentimes we don’t realize how impactful a coach can be in a child’s life.

00:22 - 01:01

At Up2Us Sports, we engage and train youth sports coaches in order to support kids where they are, to build those critical life skills that help them off of the field.

We tend to work inside communities that are facing systemic inequities. Some of the kids that we work with are dealing with food insecurity, things going on in their families, so chronic stress can come in a variety of forms.

We recruit young people between the ages of 18 to 24 years old and we take their passion for sports and hopefully turn it into a career. Annually, Up2Us Sports trains about 300 to 400 coaches, and they engage roughly about 20,000 youth.

01:04 - 01:35

We are about to launch a series of interactive videos as well as a coaching app about the foundational skills of youth development and so I like to think about this as Up2Us Sports on the go. If you are coaching anywhere in the country we can get you tangible tricks and tips that you can start using to build the social-emotional skills of youth that you're serving.

We’re developing that competency and confidence for kids to go out into the real world and know that “I can do this, because my coach believes in me.”

2023 Winner
Up2Us Sports