Announcing Our DonorsChoose.org Innovation Challenge Winners!

Born This Way Foundation is happy to announce that, through our partnership with DonorsChoose.org, 673 mental and emotional wellness projects have been fully funded in 405 schools across the country! Thank you to the 1,900 donors that joined us in making this possible, helping more than 72,000 students and supporting 489 teachers.

Of these hundreds of phenomenal projects, we’re thrilled to announce the selection of 5 Innovation Challenge winners! These teachers and students had creative, engaging, high impact ideas for how to demonstrate the importance of mental health, spark stigma-free dialogue on the issue, and help students recognize and understand their emotions.

The winning projects are:

Mrs. Trasatti, Maryland – Building Social and Emotional Skills for All Students
Social and emotional learning is integral to a child’s development. Reaching 120 elementary school students, this project provided lesson and activity materials to support the use of the Zones of Regulation curriculum which builds skills in the areas of Self-Awareness, Self-Management and Responsible Decision Making. By creating these spaces for students to learn social and emotional skills, this project aimed to normalize coping skills and integrate the programs into all sectors of learning.

Mrs. Dines, Massachusetts – Helping Traumatized Students through Student-Created Peace Areas
This project leveraged the power of art and creativity to help ESL students who are learning to manage the trauma that accompanies both the struggles of immigration and the challenges of adapting to foreign environments. Serving 45 students in Grades 6 to 8, this project asked the students to learn about mental health and trauma and then use their art and writing skills to create “peace areas” in their classrooms. Grounded in research about the value of creating safe spaces in schools, this allowed the students to learn about mental wellness while working collaboratively to make their environment kinder.

Mrs. Fleming + Students at Helix Charter High School, California – Improving Emotional Wellness through Mindfulness
This student-led project addressed the needs of 60 high schoolers, including students living with physical and mental disabilities as well as the general education students who volunteer in their class. The project provided instruction and activity materials to help the students manage their stress and anxiety through mindfulness and meditation practices. These tools have been shown through research to help students improve social skills and self-regulation, reduce symptoms of ADHD, and decrease anxiety.

Ms. Taylor, Tennessee – A Multi-Tiered Approach to Enhancing Children’s Mental and Emotional Health
Game-play can be an important tool to help children strengthen their social and emotional learning skills. This project, which served 60 elementary school students, provided therapeutic games for use in small group counseling sessions. Research has found that up to one in four school-age children are at risk of social, behavioral, or educational issues as the result of trauma. These sessions allow at risk students opportunities to recognize and understand their emotions while practicing important social skills and building their peer network.

Ms. Dewar Dituri + Students in Clifton, New Jersey – Catching Feelings – Let’s Talk About It Campaign
This student-led project worked to create a healthy dialogue around mental wellness at their high school by starting an awareness campaign encouraging their peers to “Catch Feelings.” Impacting nearly 1,000 students from diverse backgrounds, the campaign sought to spark more honest conversations about students’ emotions. By building spaces that feel safe and comfortable for students to talk in, this project fostered healthy relationships within the school.