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Press Start CoLab Program Awards More Than $60,000 in Grants to Young Canadian Entrepreneurs

Press Start
Press Start

Funding Will Support Nine Youth-led Projects Focused on Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in Canada

TORONTO, Sept. 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- nowly and Teachers Life Insurance today announced the 2023 Press Start CoLab grant recipients, a cohort of nine separate projects developed by young Canadians that address various mental health challenges in Canada. With $50,000 of seed funding from nowly and Teachers Life, as well as an additional $11,000 from OTIP, grant recipients can continue to develop original programs that will create meaningful change in our communities.

The Press Start CoLab Program is a unique accelerator helping the next generation of young leaders, activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and critical thinkers tackle pressing social issues facing Canadians today. Over the course of 10 weeks, 50 program participants aged 18-29 had access to industry and impact experts who mentored them through the ideation process to develop innovative solutions focused on mental health across four areas: 1) accessibility and navigation of mental health services; 2) stigma and misinformation around mental health; 3) diversity and cultural sensitivity in mental health resources; and 4) inclusive and evidence-based research on mental health.

A judging panel reviewed the proposals submitted by the 2023 Press Start CoLab participants and awarded funding to the following:

  • Frog Pockets by Chey Kidd: designed for Canadians with sensory needs, Frog Pockets is a sensory-friendly clothing company that features innovative designs such as a hoodie with a large front pocket with snap-in custom liners such as soft fur or beaded ropes and an extra-large hood to accommodate sensitive necks, among other sensory-friendly options.

  • Our Safehouse by Sierra Patey: a not-for-profit “recovery café” that provides online services to help those struggling with suicidal ideations navigate mental health services and social support systems to reduce suicide attempts.

  • Reset by Alexander Lam: an app that guides individuals to take control of their mental wellbeing and to manage anxiety through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, transforming the way mental health care is delivered by combining the latest software development methodologies and evidence-based therapeutic techniques.

  • CogniLink by Mathew Gaiser and Nicholas Lor: a platform for mental health researchers that features ready-to-go cohorts of potential study participants, reducing the time and effort required to identify and recruit study participants so researchers can stay focused on the science.

  • The Chronic Illness Group Program by Karima Leslie: a virtual program customized for female creatives, entrepreneurs, and aspiring business owners with invisible, physical, chronic illness to improve mental wellbeing by addressing a broad range of mental, financial, emotional, physical, and environmental health issues.

  • Rural Queer Survival Guide by Mabe Kyle: making mental health resources developed by and for rural 2SLGBTQIAP+ (Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual) youth more readily available across rural Canadian communities.

  • jargon by Karen Huo: Canada’s first virtual “science café” designed to connect young scholars and academics with their local communities to aid in disseminating and promoting mental health research in a social and accessible environment.

  • Trans Healthcare Database by Ilya Robinson: The Trans Healthcare Database is a centralized transgender healthcare database providing more access to information and healthcare to deliver better mental health outcomes for trans youth.

  • Plan Gratitude by Eileen Danaee: Plan Gratitude is an online website in both English and French that allows middle and secondary school students in participating Canadian schools to send anonymous messages of gratitude to anyone within the same school community (teachers, friends, staff, etc.).

“The mental health crisis today is both multi-faceted and unprecedented, but there is hope,” said Martha Turner Osborne, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer of nowly Insurance, a division of Teachers Life. “Each of the program participants brought unique lived experiences and insights to their proposals, and it’s inspiring to see how passionate and committed they each are to making a difference for all Canadians. Nowly and Teachers Life would like to thank everyone who participated in the 2023 Press Start Co-Lab, with special thanks to partner OTIP for the additional funding that enabled us to expand the grant recipient pool.”

Nowly and Teachers Life also want to thank the following thought leaders that serve as mentors to CoLab participants: Emma Aiken-Klar, Jessie Brar, Cheesan Chew, Katie Fenn, Jonathan Friedman, Patrick Glinski, Krista Hajovic, Keosha Love, Faduma Mohamed, Jonny Morris, and Cher Peng. As well, this year’s MC for the Program, Kwame Osei. And special thanks to its partners for the 2023 CoLab, including: Common Good Solutions, Inspiring Communities, Kids Help Phone, Loran Scholars Foundation, The Journal That Talks Back, and The Sandbox Project.

For more information on the Press Start CoLab program, please visit

About nowly
nowly is a new type of insurance, offering Canadians affordable and accessible insurance on an innovative and streamlined platform, instantly. Backed by over 80 years of industry experience, nowly members will receive instant coverage and world class health and wellness benefits. As a nowly member, you are eligible for healthy living benefits by global leader Virgin Pulse and an annual 50-dollar Living Healthy rebate on any health and wellness app or membership. You can feel confident knowing you are joining a company committed to investing in lasting social impact through their new, innovative give back program called Press Start. nowly is a trademark of Teachers Life Insurance Society (Fraternal) "Teachers Life". Find out more at

CONTACT: Media Contact: Sarah Mees 617-462-8066