In reading Stanford Social Innovation Review’s recent article by Eliot Brenner ‘The Crisis of Youth Mental Health’ I was struck by the many parallels between the state of funding and new delivery models, and the work at The Social Impact Lab.

Brenner suggests “Philanthropy is often seen as society’s risk capital. That means the onus is on philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, and social entrepreneurs to innovate. But philanthropic innovation is not just about creating something new. It also means applying new thinking to old problems, processes, and systems.” So how might we work differently to realize new possibilities?

The Lab facilitates design thinking while bringing together philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, corporations, and (most importantly – we believe) users of the solutions we are working to create. Through several months of research, workshops, facilitated conversations, and various engagements, many ideas have been generated that the team is actively testing that build on the opportunity to adopt new models.

We take a slightly different, yet similar, approach to evaluating ideas than Brenner’s scalability, affordability, acceptability. The three lenses of innovation in terms of desirability, feasibility, and viability are constantly pursued as we test each idea’s riskiest assumptions through weekly sprints. While we have stopped some ideas and pivoted on others, there are several ideas that are progressing through the sprints that align to Brenner’s opportunity areas including task shifting and digital self-help technology.

This spring, it is anticipated that some of our solutions will be ready for implementation in the community and we couldn’t agree more – there has never been a better time to invest in mental health for children and youth.

To learn more about the Lab’s children and youth mental health work or to invest with us, email

Read Brenner’s Stanford Social Innovation Review full article.


About the Author

Talia Bell is the Director of The Social Impact Lab. She holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and has a history of leadership roles in non-profit organizations and teams.