Headstream's News
November 18, 2023

Headstream’s Inaugural Year Revolutionizes Tech For Youth Wellbeing

In a first of its kind program, Headstream worked with entrepreneurs to reimagine social technology that supports and enhances youth wellbeing. Over a six-month period, the Headstream Accelerator helped 15 innovators scale their innovations to shape the technologies young people depend on as they grow up With a focus on digital solutions for young people in the social tech, ed-tech, and digital health sectors, these 15 entrepreneurs worked diligently to integrate youth voice, specifically LGBTQIA teens, BIPOC teens, teen girls, and those within those intersections, into their innovations.

Headstream’s Inaugural Year Revolutionizes Tech For Youth Wellbeing

In a first of its kind program, Headstream worked with entrepreneurs to reimagine social technology that supports and enhances youth wellbeing.  Over a six-month period, the Headstream Accelerator helped 15 innovators scale their innovations to shape the technologies young people depend on as they grow up  With a focus on digital solutions for young people in the social tech, ed-tech, and digital health sectors, these 15 entrepreneurs worked diligently to integrate youth voice, specifically LGBTQIA teens, BIPOC teens, teen girls, and those within those intersections, into their innovations.

This is the story and expression of appreciation of that achievement.

No Better Time Than Now

No one could have been prepared for the effect that Covid-19 would have on our lives. As the world outside shut down, technology was at the crux of our experience. Digital spaces became our primary – and in some cases, our only – means of connecting with friends and family. Social media kept us apprised of local, national and global developments relating to the pandemic – and it was the torch that lit the fire of outrage as we witnessed the death of George Floyd, sparking a renewed fight against racism and elevating BIPOC voices.

2020 has not been an easy year, but it has shown us at Headstream how critical this work is. We began our exploration of the intersection of teens, technology, and wellbeing in 2018, and since then, rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness among young people have continued to increase.  

At Headstream, we strive to deconstruct the unjust system that exists for women as well as Black and Indigenous People of Color in the technology sector. We take a stand, through the innovations that we source and accelerate, to bring solutions that serve communities of users, especially LGBTQIA teens, BIPOC teens, and teen girls, who are traditionally unjustly served by social technologies, health and education systems.

Young people like the 20 teens we worked with in the Youth 2 Innovator program are demanding social technologies that allow them to connect meaningfully, to create, to mobilize, to find support, to learn, to escape, and to play. And the 15 entrepreneurs in the Headstream Accelerator are building innovations that provide young people the ability to shape their own digital experiences.


2020 Headstream Program

Institutional racism and systemic inequality have long kept women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA individuals from participating in many areas – including the technology sector. The Headstream Accelerator and Incubator programs actively support entrepreneurs who haven’t traditionally had access to innovation resources, accelerators, or capital. We’d like to spotlight each of the 2020 Headstream innovators one final time. Each of these innovators have developed digital solutions for young people, often for underprivileged or often excluded groups.

Youth 2 Innovator

We would be remiss to develop tech for youth without involving any young people in the process. We recognize that – that’s why, in addition to the Headstream Accelerator program, we introduced Headstream’s Youth 2 Innovator Program (Y2I).

Y2I offered the entrepreneurs from our Accelerator program the opportunity to work with 20 teens from across the nation who come from the communities we are building for. Each Y2I teen sat on the Advisory Boards for one of the Headstream Accelerator Innovators, providing real-time input into the solutions. These talented teens also created their own digital solutions for youth wellbeing in their communities.

Most importantly, the Y2I program empowered this group of 20 talented teens to have the types of meaningful connections with our Innovators and with each other that will nourish their wellbeing during these challenging times and unlock their agency to change the world at all times.


What’s Next

From September 9th-11th, we celebrated our Headstream Innovators and Y2I program participants during the virtual Headstream Innovation Festival. Our community had the opportunity to provide feedback to our Innovators and learn about the Y2I community projects our teens had been working on. Festival attendees also learned about how our programs are building anti-racist tenants into solutions. Finally, Headstream debuted its new impact measurement tool for entrepreneurs, as well as a wisdom of the crowd research project, Digital Delta.

Now, we’re starting the next chapter. The second iteration of the Headstream Accelerator program will be accepting applicants starting September 24, 2020 with the program launching in November. Similar to our inaugural program, the next Headstream Accelerator is a virtual five-month program and open to innovators around the world who are launching tools that are available for young people in the US. We’re specifically looking for social technology entrepreneurs that are actively supporting teens’ agency and ability to build meaningful relationships through digital innovations.

It’s often too easy to focus on the turmoil in the world right now. At Headstream, we believe above all else in finding ways to use technology for good and empowering marginalized youth through education and community-building. We invite you to join us on this journey -- we promise it will be rewarding. For more information or to express interest in getting involved please fill out a quick contact form here.

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