App helps Colorado young people make connections with organizations

There is an app for everything and very soon in Colorado there will be an app to help young people in Colorado connect to organizations focused on helping them become the best version of themselves through self-discovery and fostering connections. More than 50 organizations have already signed on to be a resource through the “I’minto” app. 

The idea for the app originated from a recommendation in the 2016 Colorado Statewide Youth Development Plan. The recommendation called for an increase in public awareness of available youth services and organizations, more specifically, a consumer-focused, web-based information portal to help youth identifies available services for youth. As the CDHS Division of Child Welfare, the lead agency tasked with managing the development of the CSYDP, began to work with countless organizations, programs and young people to make this recommendation a reality the solution evolved into the need for an app; and Casey Family Programs, Kaiser Permanente 9 to 25, CDHS Division of Child Welfare, Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, Pathways to Success and Systems of Care began to work together with Wigwam Creative to help get the idea off the ground.

Adolescence is a time when youth are exploring their identity and trying to find the path in front of them is a recognizable stage of transition, it is unlike any other stage in life.  Youth start exploring healthy and unhealthy habits, behaviors and connections. 

During this phase of development ages 9 through 25, youth and young adults begin to transition from childhood to adulthood. Issues of independence, identity, sexuality, and relationships define this stage of life. Struggles with education, homelessness, and career discovery can be paramount.  Mental health problems, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, as well as psychosocial disorders, may develop or first become apparent during adolescence. Suicide is a major cause of death for this age group. Many youth are just struggling to define their purpose, goals, next steps and leadership skills. The CDHS Division of Child Welfare Chafee Foster Care Independence Program and Pathways to Success are particularly hopeful that this app will offer support to emancipating youth leaving the system to help prevent homelessness and other poor outcomes for young people without strong permanent connections. 

Many communities in Colorado have strong youth-serving organizations who are trying to help but a lot of youth are still not making the connections they need to those that can help and, therefore, are slipping through the cracks.

In the spirit of a strength based approach we hope to support our youth in Colorado through connecting them in their communities at their fingertips.  Mobile phone communication has emerged as one of the fastest diffusing mediums on the planet, fueling an emergent “mobile youth culture”, youth are using their phones to:

  • stay in touch with friends and parents,
  • share stories and photos,
  • entertain themselves when they are bored,
  • micro-coordinate their schedules and face-to-face gatherings,
  • go online to browse, and
  • to participate in social networks.

The “I’m into” app focuses on:

Discovery. The process of discovery in the app is led by the young person giving simple answers about themselves.

Connection with peers. This app is meant to be social. Peers can see and observe things that we don’t necessarily see. By inviting friends to use the app and connect we create a supportive environment and invite them to speak to what others good at and affirm what young people have said about themselves.

Connection with organizations.  The app will begin to understand the youth based on answers in the self-discovery sections. It will also use age and geography to make recommendations of organizations near them.  Creating a “connection” alerts an organization to reach out to the youth. It also stores that organization in a list of “my connections” that the youth can refer back to at any point.

Developers are testing the app right now with more than 50 young people and hope to launch the app later this year. Organizations can preview the app at imintoapp.com and become a go-to resource for young people through the app by contacting app developer Wigwam Creative to learn more and get started. Email pete@wigwamcreative.com or call (303) 321-5599.

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