One of our core values is to give back to communities in a real, meaningful way. To us, this means genuinely getting to know the communities around us and dedicating our time, attention and resources to pressing social issues. Our approach to this is Press Start and the CoLab Program.
The CoLab Program is an innovation accelerator, focused on empowering, connecting and supporting next generation leaders, activists, and critical thinkers to develop innovative solutions to Canada’s most pressing social problems. We offer access to investment, a collaborative network of like-minded activists, as well as mentorship through industry and academic experts.
As we conclude this year’s first ever CoLab Program, here’s an optimistic look into the future, led by the 2022 nowly / Press Start Emerging Social Innovators.
When developing the CoLab Program, we asked ourselves how we could approach giving back in a way that was truly impactful. To begin, we sat down with a brilliant focus group of youth activists from across Canada to understand what the most pressing social problems affecting youth are today.
After numerous discussions, their conclusion of this year’s focus areas was threefold: Climate Grief, Misinformation, and Cultural Sensitivity in Mental Healthcare.
Determined to be hands-on at every step of the way, we knew we had to prioritize the voices, experiences, and expertise of our participants. From narrowing down this year’s focus areas to collaborating with leading mentors and keynote speakers, the CoLab Program and its community would not be what it is without our phenomenal community of youth activists.
Here’s a look at this year’s participant journey in the CoLab Program:
Establishing the Press Start community and providing collaborative networking opportunities for our participants with keynote speakers and mentors was crucial, in our opinion, to enabling and sustaining meaningful change. We facilitated collaborative “Co-Creation Sessions” with a set of ideation tools and resources, guided by our mentors.
“I found invaluable opportunities for networking and mentorship through the program and the tools given to us have been phenomenal, from business plan examples to tips with grant applications,” says Tino Dogo, Bachelor of Science student at University of Manitoba and CoLab 2022 participant. “Thanks to the collaborative nature of the program, I had the opportunity to think outside my typical box and see things from different perspectives. This allowed me to come back to my business plan with a totally fresh perspective.”
Providing encouragement and enthusiasm was another integral element of the CoLab Program. Our two Inspiration Sessions gave our participants the opportunity to hear incredible stories from leaders within this year’s three problem spaces.
As our acclaimed panel of keynote speakers spoke about their own entrepreneurial ventures, they left our participants with new-found ambition and motivation to pursue their own innovative solutions.
Inspiration Sessions were spaced out throughout the seven weeks to help catalyze participant’s ideations into tangible grass-root solutions. Visit our Press Start CoLab website to learn more about this year’s distinguished Inspirational Speakers.
Congratulations Emerging Social Innovators!
After 7 weeks of incredible dedication, collaboration, and innovation, we are proud to introduce the 2022 nowly / Press Start Emerging Social Innovators. Visit the Press Start CoLab website to view our full list of Emerging Social Innovators and to learn more about this year’s grant recipients!
This is an outstanding group of leaders whose names you won’t want to forget. Finally, here are this year’s amazing grant recipients who will be receiving a grant from a $50,000 pool in order to put their solution into action over the next year:
- Purple Lotus by Priyanshu Mahey & Cher Peng // A service and information platform that addresses cultural sensitivities in mental healthcare for Asian-Canadians.
- Frontline Baddies by Tracey Gaydosh & Aileen Tran // An online social support community for people working on the frontline of the opioid epidemic and housing crisis in western Canada.
- A Melanated Guide to Mental Health by Jessie Brar // A content series featuring culturally and racially specific curriculum to empower BIPOC Canadians on their mental health journeys.
- One Stop Mental Health by Chloe White & Erin Rebello // A first-of-its-kind accessible one-stop mental health resource platform that adapts to individual needs of LGBTQ2S+ and BIPOC Canadians.
- KNOW YOUR NATION by Mesgna Mesgna // A web app that “gamifies” civic education for school aged children to curb the spread of misinformation in public policy education in Canada.
- PREMIS by Amit Sharma, Ripdaman Malhans, Rohan Birk & Joshan Gill // An online health resource that combats misinformation by making scientific research accessible and digestible for all.
The number of high-quality submissions received from all participants made the grant selection and distribution process extremely challenging for our panel of esteemed judges, leaving everyone impressed and hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.
“Seeing what this year's CoLab participants have created together makes me optimistic about the future,” says Martha Turner Osborne, nowly’s Chief Marketing & Social Innovation Officer. “We wanted the output of this program to have real impact, which is why I am so excited to see these projects come to life over the next year. Each tackles an important issue in an innovative and thoughtful way that will lead to positive change.” Thank you to each and every participant for your extraordinary hard work and brilliant solutions to this year’s challenge spaces.
To honor participant’s time and dedication to the CoLab Program, every participant who completed the program requirements will receive $750, honorary wellness and eco-friendly gifts, including a one-year subscription to the Calm app, as well as a certificate of completion and a badge of honour.
This year’s phenomenal grant recipients will be utilizing their grant funds to put their solutions into action over the next 12 months.
“Our aim is to use the grant money to create virtual support groups for mental health frontline workers. Successfully being granted $9,000 from CoLab is the difference between us kick-starting our idea now or waiting a year or two.” - Tracey Gaydosh, Participant.
We can’t wait to follow up with the recipients over the next year to hear about and celebrate their progress.
It’s not just our grant recipients who we’ll be continuing to celebrate. We’re committed to continuing to support and uplift each proposed solution from this year. This is truly just the beginning of our journey with the Press Start community.
We encourage all participants join our Press Start Hub for free to stay connected to the Press Start community and receive updates of new opportunities and resources we find throughout the year to help support ongoing endeavors with your CoLab solution.
This also includes access to exclusive entrepreneurial discounts, as well as our curated list of alternative Canadian funding tools and resources. We look forward to collaborating with these fantastic Emerging Social Innovators in future years to come as we continue to innovatively grow the Press Start CoLab Program.
We’d like to sincerely thank each and every one of the participants, mentors, keynote speakers, and collaborators for their extremely impressive hard work and dedication to the program.
We launched the CoLab Program this year and we could not be more grateful to have worked with such a kind, enthusiastic and brilliant group of individuals. Thank you all for your extraordinary hard work and brilliant solutions to this year’s challenge spaces.
To continue to follow the Press Start journey, check out: https://nowly.ca/pressstart/ as well as our socials for updates and upcoming opportunities to join positive social change.