The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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    Media Innovation

    Crisis Text Line raises $23.8 million to scale services

    June 27, 2016, 8:58 a.m., Posted by Liz Eddy

    Liz Eddy is director of communications at Crisis Text Line, which has received more than $4 million from Knight Foundation, including $2.2 million last week, to develop, grow and promote a new model for digital engagement.

    Each year, 65 million Americans suffer from mental illness. Many of these individuals never reach out for help due to lack of access to care, stigma surrounding mental health, anxiety disorders and beyond. Crisis Text Line recognized this need and developed a service that meets people where they are: on their cellphones. By providing free, 24/7 crisis support via text message, anyone in the U.S. can receive confidential mental health support without ever saying a word out loud.

    We launched quietly in Chicago and El Paso, Texas, in August 2013. Within the first four months, the service spread to all 295 area codes in the U.S. The craziest part? No official marketing was involved. Our organic growth proved the dire need for a platform where people can silently text in for support, anywhere and anytime.

    Since the launch, over 19 million text messages have been exchanged between texters and volunteer crisis counselors, with an average of 50,000 texts per day. With the initial and continued support of Knight Foundation, we can keep supporting these texters via our community of 1,500 crisis counselors. That number is projected to grow more than double in the next two years. If you are interested in applying to be a remote, volunteer crisis counselor apply here.

    On June 16, we announced a $23.8 million round with Knight as one of the contributors. Here’s what we plan to do with that funding:

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    Miami’s Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp recruits third cohort with Knight support

    June 23, 2016, 2:29 p.m., Posted by Rebecca Fishman Lipsey

    Above: #SEBootcamp team-builder at offices of  Akerman in Miami. Photo by Ekaterina Juskowski.

    Rebecca Fishman Lipsey is CEO of Radical Partners and founder of the Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, which Knight Foundation is supporting with $25,000 in scholarship funding to invest in Miami’s emerging innovators and entrepreneurs as a tool to build community, while fostering talent and expanding economic opportunity.

    Sam Hyken is building a genre-bending orchestra with sold-out shows and a cult following. Dara Schoenwald’s 2,000 volunteers pulled more than 100,000 pounds of trash from our local beaches this year. Willie Avendano is running summer camps in two locations where kids will code, design video games and explore virtual reality. 

    And for 10 weeks, these three entrepreneurs joined eight other local leaders to focus on growing their ventures and building a community for themselves: founders with a cause. Welcome to Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, a professional development space for founders of community-changing organizations hosted by Radical Partners in partnership with AkermanIN.

    #SEBootcamp Cohort 2 selfie. Photo by Ben Evans III.

    Applications for Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp’s Cohort 3 are open until July 29, and with support from Knight Foundation, we’re excited to offer scholarships to those in need. The 12-week program focuses on pitching, long-term planning, fundraising, growing a team, time management, branding and sustainability.

    Ideal candidates have launched an organization (for profit or nonprofit) that is successfully addressing an issue that matters to the future of cities and communities.

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    Beyond coding: Code Fever’s tech boot camp teaches students the basics of business

    June 23, 2016, 12:08 p.m., Posted by Glissette Santana

    Above: Michaela Murdock, 14, and Alecx Murdock, 18, get advice on their business, The Hairy Travel, from Code Fever co-founder Derick Pearson. Photo by Glissette Santana.

    On their first day of summer camp, Zekai Hamilton, 11, and Eric Nanhay, 9, learned how to make memes and GIFs.

    This wasn’t an attempt to boost their social media followers, though. Zekai and Eric were building the marketing strategy for their business, Soccer Basketball Corporation, a game they created as part of a project during Code Fever’s Technology Summer Bootcamp.

    Gideon Kahase, 12, explains the wire frame for his business idea, an all-in-one gum that changes flavors, à la Willy Wonka. Photo by Glissette Santana.

    The six-week camp, held twice a week at the African-American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale, started June 13 and aims to teach minority children coding, as well as business strategies such as crowdfunding and marketing. Children ages 9 to 18 are participating in the free camp.

    Code Fever, a coding and startup school supported by Knight Foundation, focuses on teaching high-potential students technology and entrepreneurship skills essential to success later in life. The company also sponsors adult programs, which includes a 16-week intensive boot camp that teaches similar skills.

    Co-founder Derick Pearson said this is essential to Code Fever’s mission and the success of their camp.

    “You don’t want them to be pigeonholed,” Pearson said. “You want them to have any and every opportunity provided to them … teaching them business skills, teaching them the opportunity to monetize those skills, create revenue and a better life for themselves.”

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