Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Innovation Challenge 2013!

Innovation Challenge Brings Bold Ideas to Youth Mental Health
Students across Colorado Join Together in Support of Entrepreneurial Approaches to Suicide Prevention

Littleton, Colorado. December 4, 2013 Over 150 students, teachers, and community business leaders joined together to participate in the 4th Annual Innovation Challenge facilitated by the Carson J Spencer Foundation and hosted at Columbine High School. The Innovation Challenge is one of several events associated with the Carson J Spencer Foundation’s FIRE Within Program; a year-long program where students learn how to use entrepreneurial skills to benefit suicide prevention efforts in their communities.

The FIRE Within program has expanded this year from 20 schools to 50 schools across the state. The Innovation Challenge is first opportunity in the program to bring students from many of these schools together in one place.  The kick-off of the event involved  FIRE Within alumni, now in college, giving advice and useful tips on how they capitalized their own FIRE Within experience to help pursue opportunities in college.  The main focus of the event was to challenge students to think boldly about how they might create something that would make a significant upstream impact on youth suicide and distress; the rules were simple, there were no rules.  Students were encouraged to come up with the most unique, out-of-the-box idea geared toward ending suicide and promoting mental health.  They then were asked to create a brief presentation promoting their idea to be presented to a panel of judges, made up of business leaders coming anywhere from the mental health industry to banking and construction. 

“I was very impressed by the students.  Great creativity and thoughtful engagement all around,” said Dave Thorpe, Vice President Shaw Construction.

In total, 20 students walked away with gifts and prizes for their innovative thinking and thoughtful presentations.  All students participating in the Innovation Challenge will head back to their respective schools to start preparing their business plans for the Business Plan Competition in February.  Each FIRE Within class submits a full business plan and video to the Carson J Spencer Foundation to be judged for seed funding ranging from $100 - $500. 

For more information about the FIRE Within program, please contact Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas at 720-244-6535 or

About the Carson J Spencer Foundation - Sustaining a Passion for Living
The Carson J Spencer Foundation ( is a Colorado nonprofit, established in 2005.  We envision a world where leaders and communities are committed to sustaining a passion for living. We sustain a passion for living by:

  • Delivering innovative and effective suicide prevention programs for working-aged people
  • Coaching young leaders to develop social enterprises for mental health promotion and suicide prevention
  • Supporting people bereaved by suicide

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