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Economy League and Independence Blue Cross launch Well City Challenge to seek community solutions for addressing millennial health

By October 26, 2020June 9th, 2021BCBSA News Community Featured

Photo by Meredith Edlow for Economy League

Philadelphia – October 26, 2020 – The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia (ELGP) and Independence Blue Cross (Independence) are joining forces to launch the Well City Challenge to take a deeper dive into millennials’ physical and mental health challenges − and they are looking for home-grown, community-generated concepts to improve them. Millennials, the largest population in the United States, are the most educated and will be the largest wealth generators over the next two decades, yet they are on track to be in poorer health than previous generations.

The challenge was inspired by the 2019 Blue Cross Blue Shield Health of America report “The Health of Millennials,” which found that millennials are suffering from more physical and mental health challenges than previous generations, including double-digit increases in 8 out of 10 top health conditions. A new 2020 Health of America report released this month found that nearly one third of millennials have a behavioral health condition, with significant increases in the prevalence of conditions like major depression (43%), ADHD (39%) and substance use disorder (SUD) (17%) since 2014.

“Building on the 2019  Health of America report on millennial health and the 2020 follow-up report on millennial behavioral health, we know that the well-being of an entire generation is at risk. So we are taking action to raise awareness of the threat and engage our partners and the community to find solutions. We are proud to support the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and the Well City Challenge and we look forward to seeing the most creative minds in our region go to work on this initiative,” — Marcy Rost, executive vice president and chief strategy and communications officer for Independence.

The Well City Challenge seeks community-oriented ideas to address and improve these mounting millennial physical and mental health challenges. The program begins with a call for applicants with innovative ideas that could be developed into pilot programs. Selected semi-finalists will be paired with mentors from within the Economy League’s network to help refine the concept, moving to a virtual “Shark Tank”-like pitch competition with over $50,000 in prizes. Pitch competition winners will then move into an accelerator to pilot their ideas and can receive an additional $50,000 in seed investments.

“We are all in this together, but we also know that the needs of our communities are as diverse as the communities themselves,” says Nick Frontino, managing director of the Economy League of Greater Pennsylvania. “While [WCC] is a pitch competition and accelerator at its core, you don’t have to bring anything more than a great idea to the table. We have a team and resources to help you do the rest.”

The Challenge is not just for millennial startups or techies – it is for any Philadelphian with an idea for cultural and community-centric concepts that will creatively explore millennial health and mental health in three areas: Mind/Body, Food and Nutrition, and Community/Social Connection. “We chose these three themes because we saw the most opportunity for meaningful community dialogue, as well as the opportunity to fuel collaborations and create connectedness,” said Frontino. “During this pandemic, we have seen major disparities in health. We believe that there is a need and opportunity for ideas as millennials seek more mindful health practices, and ways to counter their social isolation and anxiety due to being in quarantine.”

Interested innovators can apply online at starting Oct. 26 through Nov. 30. Follow the hashtags #WellCityChallenge and #WellCityChallengePHL for more information and announcements on challenge participation, upcoming giveaways and virtual events, and giveaways.

About the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia addresses critical issues facing Greater Philadelphia by providing impactful research, connecting diverse leaders, and advancing shared solutions. We envision a thriving Greater Philadelphia region powered by informed and collaborative leadership. Since its founding in 1909, the Economy League has believed that high-quality analysis and practical insight about the region’s most important challenges and opportunities, combined with collaborative, cross-sector leadership are crucial drivers of prosperity in Greater Philadelphia.