Almost 100 Proposals Entered to Win up to $200k For Disruptive and Innovative Ideas to Improve the Lives of Persons with Disabilities

Northeast Arc today revealed that seven teams have made it to the semifinal round of The Arc Tank 2.0 to pitch their proposals in front of a panel of judges to win up to $200,000 in funding.

The Arc Tank 2.0 competition is an initiative designed to positively disrupt the conventional methods of providing services to persons with disabilities. Almost 100 proposals were submitted from across the globe and throughout the U.S. by an array of inventors, engineers, human service providers, parents, college students, and persons with disabilities. This is the second year of the competition.

The semifinalists are vying for first round funding of up to $200,000 provided by the Changing Lives Fund established through a $1 million donation from Steven P. Rosenthal, founder of West Shore, LLC.

Northeast Arc is a human services organization that annually serves 10,000 children and adults from 190 Massachusetts cities and towns who have a broad range of disabilities including intellectual disabilities and autism.

“The second year of the Arc Tank competition has brought forward new and innovative ideas to challenge the status quo and to positively disrupt the system of services, all leading toward the goal of improving the lives of individuals with disabilities,” said Jo Ann Simons, CEO of Northeast Arc. “The Arc Tank 2.0 is sure to continue the wave of bringing creative out- of- the- box thinking and problem solving that will change the way services are delivered to those with intellectual disabilities and autism.”

“The concept of the Changing Lives Fund is exemplified in these Arc Tank 2.0 proposals, which showcase new ways to tackle difficult issues in the disability community with creative approaches,” said Steven Rosenthal, founder of the Changing Lives Fund. “I look forward to the semifinalist presentations and the judges’ final decisions.”

The winners of the Arc Tank 2.0 will be determined at an event on November 27, 2018 from 2-5pm as the semifinalists present in front of the panel of judges.  The event, at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, is open to the public, however space is limited and RSVP is requested. RSVP here.

The following are the 2018 Arc Tank2.0 Seven Semifinalists:

ASSERT -Autism Spectrum Support Emergency Response Teams -Submitted by the May Institute, Randolph, Mass.               

Mass Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management (Mass OPEM) and experts in the field of disaster recovery, recognize there is a training and knowledge gap in meeting the needs of individuals with ASD as it relates to first responders such as Medical Response Corps workers and those who provide extended support such as emergency shelter and public health personnel. May Institute’s Autism Spectrum Support Emergency Response Teams (ASSERT) program will improve access to services during times of displacement due to disaster or emergency. ASSERT will meet the behavioral, sensory, and self-care needs of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by training public health and emergency workers across the disaster response cycle and forming regional ASSERT functional access teams.

Can Social Impact Bonds Drive Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Disabilities -Submitted by WORK Inc. of Dorchester, Mass.

WORK Inc. is requesting funding to engage Third Sector Capital Partners Inc, national experts to conduct a feasibility study to determine whether a Pay for Success Models can attract investors and Government support. WORK Inc. will evaluate its readiness to bring its employment strategies to scale in Massachusetts through the use of a Pay for Success Model (PFS) – this will be the first time in the country that this innovative contracting model would be used to serve individuals with disabilities with a special emphasis on individuals turning 22 and those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Pay For Success is an innovative contracting model that drives government resources towards high performing social programs.  The model will allow an unlimited number of individuals throughout the Commonwealth and potentially nationally to obtain employment and increase their quality of life. Currently there are 396,000 of working age individuals with disabilities in Massachusetts and 70% are unemployed.  WORK Inc. is confident that the outcome of the study will prove that by putting individuals with I/DD and ASD to work, the government will save valuable tax dollars, individuals’ quality of life will improve, poverty numbers decrease and employers will be obtaining dedicated and hardworking individuals.

Leveraging Data: Optimizing Community-Based Health Advocacy for People with ID – Submitted by HMEA of Franklin, Mass.

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) receive poorer quality and less coordinated healthcare; inadequate access to experienced practitioners; and more frequently use emergency and acute care services. To change these patterns, people with ID need more effective health advocates. Our Consortium of community-based providers is well poised to provide this advocacy through the wealth of info they collect but likely underutilize. We propose leveraging an innovative multi-provider electronic info system to create a model to monitor health risk, prompt early access of medical services, and communicate timely, relevant info in partnership with healthcare providers to improve quality of healthcare services, reduce unnecessary health services, and improve health outcomes for people with ID.

Quillo – Submitted by Red Road Ventures LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana

With annual staff turnover nearing 50%, threatening continuity of support for individuals with I/DD and their families, we need to disrupt our thinking and change our focus. Quillo delivers a new approach that develops a positive work culture and reminds us of the WHY of this work. Launched in March 2018, Quillo’s mission is to strengthen the culture and relationships in organizations that support people with I/DD by focusing on staff well-being and positive psychology. Our goal is to increase retention and overall staff engagement using cutting-edge technology, the power of stories, and positive messaging to engage, inspire, and educate staff. Quillo connects people to build better relationships and better lives.

SCOOT (Stronger Communities through Open and Organized Transportation) Submitted by New Star of Chicago Heights, Illinois

Transportation is one of the most significant barriers between people with I/DD and their full participation in the community. Public transportation can meet some needs but schedules in the suburbs are not friendly. Some ex suburbs have no public transportation. Ridesharing such as Uber and Lyft can be an option for some people. But, our experience is that many families do not trust an unknown driver to transport their family member with I/DD. This leaves many individuals without reliable transportation so they can participate more fully in the community. The goal of the project is to develop a mobile app to provide ridesharing transportation for persons with disabilities. The project is unique in that the rideshare drivers will be Direct Support Professionals. We currently have DSPs that drive for Uber and Lyft. This project will allow them to drive specifically for persons with I/DD. This will also allow families to be more comfortable with the driver taking their loved one to a community event, shopping, the movies, church, etc.

Professional Development for First Responders  – Submitted by The Arc of South Norfolk’s Autism Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC) of Westwood, Mass.  

ALEC is a program that offers specialized trainings to First Responders. The goal ALEC program is for First Responders to hear directly from other First Responders who have personal and professional experience with individuals with autism and to provide additional tools to use in assessing the risk of a situation. Led by former Fire Captain, Bill Cannata, the program increases communication between parents within the community and First Responders increasing their ability to interact effectively with individuals with autism. This program promotes safety and reduces risk of injury for individuals with autism.

Virtual Reality Functional Communication Activities & Training Seminars – Submitted by the nonprofit organization Interactive Media Institute of San Diego, California

Social communication and interaction deficits are most often addressed via functional communication activities (FCA). However, FCA are limited in their reach and there is obscure evidence on their ability to teach generalizable skills. Our program introduces innovative virtual reality (VR) FCA to increase accessibility via mobile and online training and enhances skill generalization using proven VR technology. Additionally, via training seminars for service providers and families, we seek to facilitate the dissemination of this new frontier throughout the world. Our main objective is to create an online resource with 6 clinically validated VR-FCA and corresponding instructional videos for service providers and families. Our secondary objective is to organize two VR-FCA training seminars.

“As we host the second Arc Tank competition, we want everyone to remember that President Kennedy believed in the power of innovation to better the human condition for all individuals, including people with a range of challenges,” said Steven M. Rothstein, Executive Director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a partner in the Arc Tank 2.0 event. “The semi-finalists reflect President Kennedy’s vision for bold new ideas, and his belief of that each of us has the power to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.”

Proposals that did not make it to the final round but have worthy ideas will go into “The Holding Tank,” where they will have the opportunity to be reviewed by other funders. The “Holding Tank” will be published that day.

“The Arc Tank” panel of judges:

  • Ralph James – Entrepreneur, experienced higher education administrator and philanthropist. Executive Director of External Relations, Harvard Business School (retired)
  • Matthew Kennedy – Founder, Kennedy Merchant Partners; Board member, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation
  • Shirley Leung – Interim Editorial Page Editor and Columnist for the Boston Globe, Contributor to WGBH and NECN; Former reporter for the Wall Street Journal; Mother of two sons on the autism spectrum
  • Quincy Miller – President, Eastern Bank; Immediate past Board Chair, of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts; Board member, Greater Boston Food Bank, Bottom Line and Zoo New England’ Board of Overseers, Greater Boston YMCA
  • Matthew Millett – Security Officer II, Department of Youth Services, Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Board member, Special Olympics of Massachusetts
  • Marylou Sudders – Secretary of Health & Human Services, Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Prior to becoming Secretary, Sudders was an associate professor and chaired the Health/Mental Health program at Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work.

The judges will receive support from David Chang, an entrepreneur and active angel investor with product, marketing and software development experience at venture-backed startups.

The event is being supported by the Boston Business Journal, Eastern Bank and NBC 10 Boston.