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INSPIRE+ 2020-2022 Design Solutions

INSPIRE+ empowers and collaborates with our Design Fellows to design innovative, creative, and youth-led solutions that address unhealthy substance use and promote community healing. Through our curriculum, Design Fellows are given the space to examine existing social conditions and then imagine radical new futures for their own communities. Using human-centered design and positive youth development methodologies, Design Fellows think outside the box for transformative solutions that center trauma-informed and healing-centered principles of safety, equity, relationships, empowerment, and resilience. Here we showcase each design solution from the three INSPIRE+ cohorts in Fresno, Sacramento, and Alameda counties.


In partnership with Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission

Help Us Help Fresno: A Project for the People, by the People

The Help Us Help Fresno prototype is a series of workshops for adults who care for and work with youth (e.g., law enforcement, parents, and educators). The workshops are led by youth who have experienced substance use and aim to support adults to better understand teenagers’ experiences with substances and what they can do to develop trusting relationships and provide proper support.

Well-being principle: Equity

The prototype focuses on destigmatization and decriminalization of substance use rooted in the idea that less oppression leads to a healthier environment. The workshops will focus on supporting a variety of adult groups with consideration to accessibility (e.g., location and language).

Anonymous Website/Chat Room for Educators and Teenagers

This website and chat room encourage educators and teenagers to talk anonymously about drug use and share helpful resources. The intervention recognizes that youth need a safe place to connect with educators and other adults about problems they are facing, and adults need a “window” into the stories and testimonies of youth to develop empathy and better understand why teenagers turn to drugs.

Well-being principle: Safety

The prototype provides a safe place for teens to share their experiences, relate with one another, and promote safety and awareness.

Community Awareness Event and Substance Use Survey

A youth-hosted community event will raise awareness about the experiences of substance use among youth, including the main community-level influences. Youth will also conduct a survey with community members to get feedback on how to provide teens with the resources and supports needed to make a change.

Well-being principle: Resilience

When we provide resources for communities, we strengthen community resilience.


In partnership with Sacramento PRO Youth and Families

Students and Substances Educational Program (SSEP)

SSEP is a student-led advocacy and awareness campaign. Students will work together to create presentations, assemblies, and other forms of advocacy to present to staff members. This will give students the opportunity to be leaders in their communities by educating school officials about the relationship of school pressures and students' abuse of substances. The goal is for schools to take more action in lessening school pressures and providing more resources on helping students with substance abuse.

Well-being principle: Empowerment

Students take on the leadership to educate their school officials to take action against school pressures leading to substance abuse. Students get to voice their concerns and prompt higher-ups to change the school climate.

The Help

The Help is a daily journaling app where parents and children connect with each other through conversation-starters and gratitude reflections, and get rewards after accomplishing their communication goals. The Help aims to mediate conversations, creating a neutral zone and safe place for a parent and child to discuss mental health and substance use issues. The Help gives them the tools to build communication skills that they can use for the rest of their lives, and provides awards for completing their communication goals.

Well-being principle: Relationships

The Help fosters a stronger relationship for parents and children to discuss hard topics like substance use and mental health, creating stronger bonds and helping them build their communication skills.


SafeSpace is a fun, engaging mobile app that promotes a thriving online community centered around mental health discussion through its activities and resources. Our target populations are youth in elementary through post-secondary education, as well as employed young adults who are struggling with drug use or mental health issues. SafeSpace will highlight and solidify strengths of its community through engaging activities, helpful resources, and active discussions regarding coping with mental health.

Well-being principle: Safety

SafeSpace is focused on users’ mental, emotional, and physical safety. Users will begin in anonymous mode. They will have the option to level up through activities and gain access to meeting. There will be a native language algorithm to prevent verbal abuse and invasion of privacy as well as a report option if any alarming issues arise.


In partnership with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Castlemont High School

Giving Back Community Center

The Giving Back Community Center is a physical space where members of our community can form supportive relationships with one another to help cope with mental health issues without using substances. The community center will have a variety of activities such as counseling, physical and mental activities to release stress, and housing support for the homeless. The Giving Back Community Center supports healthier relationships by having counselors and support for young people to talk to their parents. It is unique from other centers in that it has a focus on safety, has staff that are trained in healing centered approaches, and has appealing activities for young people.

Well-being principle: Relationships

People will come to the Giving Back Community Center to build strong relationships with their relatives and members of our community. When you know people in your community, it builds a safer environment.

@msg (“Message”)

@msg is a social media campaign spreading awareness on mental health issues, gun violence, and substances use. It focuses on the intersection between mental health, substance use, and gun violence, raising awareness on these key topic areas and empowering youth to share their voices. The aim is to de-stigmatize mental illness and shed light on how gun violence increases anxiety and stress which can cause people to turn to substances to cope. @msg will be staffed by a class of students who will create posts and manage a social media campaign that addresses mental health, substance use, and gun violence to raise awareness on ways we can make our community safer.

Well-being principle: Empowerment

@msg empowers youth by giving them space, resources, and a platform to talk about difficult subjects like gun violence, mental health, and substance use.


BetterSelf is your go-to app for community-building and self-improvement. The app combines mental health resources with relationship and community engagement by offering accountability partners, therapists, and calming activities within the app. BetterSelf users will also be able to identify and engage with others in their geographic area, allowing self-improvement discussions to be specific and localized. All of these options can be anonymous or personalized, depending on a user's preference. BetterSelf focuses on getting better while expanding community reach, working from the internal to the external.

Well-being principle: Relationships

Although getting better is and can be a very personalized journey, a common factor of mental health struggles is the lack of resilient relationships. When people feel like someone else cares for them, they can start to care for themselves as well. Community is healing.

Thank You to Our Partners!

Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission logo
Pro Youth: Hope ruses here. logo
Castlemont High School logo
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco

INSPIRE+ is funded by Elevate Youth California

Elevate Youth California is funded by State of California’s Department of Health Care Services through the Proposition 64 Youth Education, Prevention, Early Intervention and Treatment Account and is administered by The Center at Sierra Health Foundation.

elevate youth california
The Center at Sierra Health Foundation