Healthy Public Challenge


What do you mean by “healthy public”?

By healthy public, we mean a society where all individuals feel a part of the whole, can be active in institutions, and have access to resources essential for a stable life. Our challenge isn’t about traditional medical care, which often takes an individualized, patient-focused approach. Nor is it about public health, which often measures success through individual measures - for example, number of individuals receiving a specific vaccination. We’re interested in the health of a larger entity, the public, in terms of community-wide, civic measures such as participation in civic institutions and social cohesion. We want you to think of solutions that have an impact on our general wellbeing as a society.

How is the Healthy Public Challenge different from traditional innovation challenges?

Through the Healthy Public Challenge 10 winners will be enrolled in a monthly advisory program at Civic Hall Labs in addition to receiving a $10,000 microgrant. We’re accepting ideas in all stages of development, and will work with your team to develop your solution and report the impacts. We envision this as a collaborative process between teams and our Experts-in-Residence that lasts the entire 6-month advising period, rather than a single point-in-time competition or contest.

What do you mean by “technology”? Are you looking for an app?

The Healthy Public Challenge is not an app challenge. We’re open to a variety of different technical solutions and tools that address the health of our public, as well as innovative new uses or implementations of civic features to existing technology. “Technologies” could include websites, hardware, apps, social tools, scheduling tools, data mapping, data maintenance, and more. Our criteria page includes a list of potential ideas.

Why is Civic Hall Labs launching this challenge?

With the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Civic Hall Labs is launching the Healthy Public Challenge to redefine how we understand a culture of health as it relates to civic challenges. By focusing on the civic roots of health, we are expanding a traditional area to include non-traditional partners and innovators. We want to test out intervention points for advising and provide support for teams to build successful pilots as they further the impact of civic tech on health.

Do you have to be located in a specific location to participate in the Healthy Public Challenge?

The Healthy Public Challenge welcomes entries from diverse communities. Since we’re looking at the “public” in a broad sense, we welcome all solutions from any location that addresses the health of the public. However, winning teams must be able to attend monthly advising sessions at our offices in New York City.

Is remote advising allowed?

Monthly advising sessions are in-person only. Your team can be based in a remote location as long as a majority of your team can attend each monthly advising session at Civic Hall Labs.

What does the advising process look like?

Advising takes place with Civic Hall Labs’ in-house Experts-in-Residence. In-person advising may involve strategizing how a solution builds collective capacity, pinpointing possible intervention points for technological solutions, developing means to evaluate solution effects, and working with health advisors to understand how a particular technology will affect communities. We would like follow ups that come out of advising sessions to evolve into a long term road map for developing, testing, and deploying civic innovation.

Who are the Experts in Residence?

Our Experts in Residence are experienced practitioners who have worked with a number of different community health initiatives. They will guide Challenge winners in developing solutions that address systemic, versus individualized, approaches to health. Learn more about their backgrounds here.

What stage should I be at with my solution? Can I enter with just an idea?

We are accepting submissions in all stages of development, including Idea, Early Prototype, Late Prototype, Testing, and Live stages. Our advisors will work with you to develop your solution for a healthy public, whether you have a well-researched idea or a fully-developed product that you’re looking to test or iterate on.

Who can apply to the Challenge?

Community groups, teams of students, entrepreneurs, for-profits, non-profits, organizations, and individuals can all apply to the Healthy Public Challenge. The only thing we’re asking is that you’re committed to the development of your solution and have the capacity to make it happen. We want you to look at this as a specific opportunity to test your idea and to work with our advisors to create a solution focused on systems approaches to health.

Is there a limitation on the number of team members?

The online application has room for 6 team members. Teams can be larger, but a core team of no more than 6 should be included on the application. A majority of your team must commit to attending monthly advising sessions at Civic Hall Labs.

Can someone apply both as an individual and as part of a team?

No, you can only apply once to the Healthy Public Challenge. Teams are highly recommended.

Is there an age requirement for applicants?

Applicants to the Healthy Public Challenge should be at least 18 years old.

Who owns the intellectual property of the solution once it is submitted to the Healthy Public Challenge?

Applicants maintain the ownership of their ideas and concepts, including material they develop as part of the Healthy Public Challenge. Please read our Official Terms and Conditions for more information.

I have additional questions. Who can I contact for more information?

Please email with your questions. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can and appreciate your patience as we respond to a high volume of requests.