Creating a Lifeline in Communities | Summary and Q&A

September 27, 2018
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Creating a Lifeline in Communities


Startup founders discuss their personal connections to social issues and the solutions they are building to address them.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does stigma act as a barrier to accessing food stamp benefits?

Stigma creates the false belief that only destitute individuals are eligible for food stamps, discouraging potential beneficiaries from seeking assistance. MRelief's platform aims to combat this stigma by providing a private and easy way for people to determine their eligibility and guide them through the application process.

Q: What challenges do companies like Promise face when working with governments to reform the criminal justice system?

One challenge is resistance from individuals who are invested in maintaining the current system, such as jail administrators who don't want to decrease the jail population. The key is to demonstrate the effectiveness of alternative programs and the need for change to improve outcomes.

Q: How does Concern's app help in addressing mental health crises?

Concern's app allows individuals to report mental health crises, activating a mobile crisis response team trained to de-escalate situations rather than relying solely on law enforcement. By linking people in crisis to appropriate care rather than jails or hospitals, Concern aims to address the underlying mental health and substance abuse issues.

Q: How does Pigeon Lee's technology aim to improve the criminal justice system beyond communication services?

Pigeon Lee aims to organize criminal justice data to enable innovation in areas such as background checks. By providing detailed and accurate information about individuals' criminal histories, the system can avoid stigmatizing individuals who have been arrested but not convicted and facilitate fairer hiring practices.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Frederick Hudson, CEO of Pigeon Lee, built a platform that helps people search, find, and connect with loved ones in prison based on his personal experience of being incarcerated.

  • Neil Shaw, CEO of Concern, created a compassionate alternative to emergency services for mental health crises, homelessness, and substance abuse, inspired by his own experiences with the criminal justice system and mental health issues.

  • Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, co-founder of Promise, works with governments to provide alternatives to incarceration and bail for those who cannot afford it, driven by the loss of a loved one to addiction.

  • Rosa Free, executive director of MRelief, developed a platform to help people access unclaimed food stamp benefits, motivated by her own experience of growing up in public housing and relying on food assistance programs.

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