Antiracist Technology in the US

Selected

EXHALE App

An emotional well-being app designed specifically for Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color (BIWOC) to navigate and reduce the impact and effects of systemic racism

Team Lead

Katara McCarty

Solution Overview

Solution Name:

EXHALE App

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One-line solution summary:

EXHALE is the first emotional well-being app designed specifically for BIWOC, by BIWOC.

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Pitch your solution.

Women are at least twice as likely to experience an episode of major depression as men. Compared to their white counterparts, Black women are only half as likely to seek help. This is because of oppression, systematic racism and other factors at work.

EXHALE was born out of the idea that the Black and Brown community is holding its breath, waiting for the next video of police brutality, microaggression or negative health impact statistic. Through content curated by BIWOC, EXHALE inspires self-care, mindfulness, healing and rest, serving as a place that BIWOC can visit as often as they’d like to find refuge and healing.

I would love to add more features to the app, such as a way for Black and Brown women to connect to Black and Brown therapists. I also want to launch EXHALE for Black, Indigenous and Children of Color because they have stressors too.  

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

EXHALE is helping communities of color use technology to access emotional well-being resources. The killings of so many Black men and women hits our news feeds, and it is overwhelming and traumatizing for people of color.

The pandemic has also disproportionately affected BIWOC, and over the last year, employment numbers have dropped nearly 7% for Hispanic women and 5.6% for Black women. Systematic racism often prevents women of color from securing the same opportunities as their white counterparts. Women of color are often the ones at the top of companies’ layoff lists; they tend to hold the most marginal, low-authority roles, therefore losing their jobs at excessively high rates.

Further, there is scientific evidence that racism negatively affects psychological functioning and well-being of Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The American Psychological Association devoted a 2019 special issue to exploring the manifestations, mechanisms and impacts of racial trauma or the biopsychosocial symptoms and responses associated with acute and chronic exposure to race-based stress, injury, life threatening events or violence ending in death. 

Emerging evidence further affirms that bearing witness to racially violent events online can produce trauma symptomatology among Black and Latinx adolescents.

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What is your solution?

EXHALE provides five categories of well-being practice: meditations, coaching talks, affirmations, guided visualizations and breath work techniques. These practices and techniques partner with the users in their journey toward well-being by helping to reduce stress, anxiety and trauma brought on by systemic racism.

Key journeys available to experience on EXHALE today include:

Soul Medicine Meditation: Creates an opportunity for you to check in with yourself by asking a few questions: How are you? Are you in pain? What is the source of your pain?

Ancestors Guided Imagining: Go on a guided internal journey to connect with and experience your ancestors. You will be introduced to a collective that creates your lineage.

Calm Breath: This breathing technique is a way for you to immediately tame your fight or flight response and cool your body’s inflammatory response.

EXHALE is free to download and free to use and is available via iOS and Android.


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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

EXHALE is very specifically targeting Black, Indigenous and Women of Color. Women are at least twice as likely to experience an episode of major depression as men, and Black women are only half as likely as their white counterparts to seek help. In the Black community, mental health issues are often compounded by the psychological stress of systemic racism. Black adults are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than white adults because of oppression, systematic racism and other factors at work.

BIWOC need a space to exist, de-stress and feel as comfortable as they can. Yet popular meditation apps and the wellness space in general are predominantly white spaces led by white people. That’s why I launched EXHALE, the first emotional wellbeing app made for BIWOC, by BIWOC.

EXHALE was ideated when I asked myself: How am I taking care of us? What am I offering back to the community that raised me and the Black women that took me in? I realized that I stay healthy through emotional well-being, and by sharing this practice in a way that illuminates a shared and specific reality that my community faces, I can begin to lift the burden. By teaching BIWOC how to rid their nervous systems of trauma, I can do something about the disparities. I can help them hit the pause button and heal our collective hurt.

EXHALE serves as a place that BIWOC can visit as often as they’d like to find refuge and healing during their emotional well-being journey. The practices in this app speak to where these women are today, in America in 2021, where BIWOC disproportionately face systems of oppression that cause hurt and harm to their bodies and minds.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Actively minimize human and algorithmic biases, particularly in healthcare, education, and workplace settings.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

EXHALE is an easy, accessible app for Black, Indigenous and Women of Color to use in their well-being journeys. Due to disparities in the wellness and health industry, it’s imperative that we make resources like the EXHALE app so that BIWOC have a safe space to go to that is free from anti-blackness, microaggressions and racism so they can have an experience that aids in their well-being, not one that potentially adds more harm. 

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Indianapolis, IN, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

Since launching in August 2020, EXHALE has nearly 4,000 downloads and users in 45 countries. The importance and relevance of EXHALE for the BIWOC community has been reinforced through over 100 media articles about the app. EXHALE has been written about in top media outlets including Black Enterprise, HelloBeautiful, Blavity, PAPER, POPSUGAR, Refinery29, Bustle, Forbes, HELLO!, INSIDER, Hope for Women, Well+Good, Yoga Digest, Mindful, Health, Heartfulness, Byrdie, Prism and so many more. There’s a dire need for an app like EXHALE and global media are taking note.

Now Katara is focused on taking EXHALE to the next stage, introducing more features and capabilities within the app and reaching more users. 

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Katara McCarty, Founder of EXHALE App

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology
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What makes your solution innovative?

Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color have limited wellness spaces that are specifically designed with their needs in mind. The EXHALE app provides a space where BIWOC can come to and feel and hear BIWOC speaking back to them through guided meditations, visualizations, breath work techniques and more, while also holding space for our shared oppression that is unique to us. We desire to continue to build on the mission to create safe wellness spaces for Black and Brown women including trans and gender non-conforming people. We believe this mission will have a broader impact on the market in that it will bring awareness around how predominately white most wellness spaces, including wellness apps, are and that this causes harm to Black and Brown people. Our hope is to continue to shine a light on the industry as a whole and the work that needs to be done to diversify and build inclusive spaces of belonging for BIWOC.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Audiovisual Media
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
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In which states / US territories do you currently operate?

  • Indiana
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In which states / US territories will you be operating within the next year?

  • Indiana
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

How many people does your solution currently serve? 5,000
How many will it serve in one year? 174,000
In five years? 18,972,300

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We are using our current platform and its backend services to track the number of people that have downloaded EXHALE and are using the app as well as the country they are located in. As we build out our 2.0 version, we will be building a more in-depth tracking system that will allow us to not only see how many people have downloaded the app and what country they are in but also how often are they revisiting the app and what features are being used the most. We will also track if they are clicking through to other features. 

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

No paid full-time or paid part-time staff yet. We currently have three people working on the EXHALE app unpaid and five contracted companies, including CFO, accounting, tax and public relations services as well as legal counsel/attorney.

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How long have you been working on your solution?

Started working on building the EXHALE app in May 2020 – present

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Our team members have served and provided resources for underserved communities for over two decades. Founder Katara McCarty is a Black woman and Director of Design Brenna McCarty is a bi-racial woman. Both weave through life in a world that doesn’t always make space for all of who they are, and they’ve faced experiences with systemic racism and biases. Director of Technology Ryan McCarty has served the BIPOC community for over two decades through the non-profit he co-founded with Katara.

From out of the realities of abandonment by her biological mother, being bi-racial and growing up in a Black home, Katara realized early in life that the color of her skin mattered. After becoming a single mother at 19 and finding the courage to leave an abusive relationship, Katara became an entrepreneur holding leadership positions in both non- and for-profit organizations.

Katara is a sought-after coach, author and podcast host dedicated to cultivating brave spaces where all BIWOC belong. She is committed to amplifying the richness of BIWOC and their stories and providing them with emotional well-being resources.

Brenna’s design proficiency comes from work with large corporate entities, as well as SMB clients with a focus on design, video, social and media marketing.

Under Ryan’s guidance as director of customer and employee relations for TCC, the largest Verizon Authorized Retailer in the nation donated $1M to Riley Hospital for Children, provided 250,000 backpacks with school supplies to children, and more. Ryan developed EXHALE v1 on iOS and Android. 

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

Katecha Corp’s vision to create and provide emotional well-being resources for BIPOC is what fuels the company’s overall mission, which includes diversity, equity and inclusion. We created EXHALE to be a resource for BIWOC because these types of resources specifically tailored for us don’t exist today. It’s important that as we reach this demographic, we have a team that reflects the community we are reaching. Representation is an essential part of our platform; therefore we want those working to enhance this resource to be from the community we are reaching. Our goal is that 90% of our workforce is Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color. 

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

I hope to gain support and a group of people to come alongside me as I meet a need in my community. As a Black woman providing a resource for Black and Brown women+ and people, it is challenging to be successful due to systems that are at play in our society that oppress Black women+. My hope is to cultivate relationships that add value to my solution, which is essentially helping my community. I also hope to be of value to others by bringing my wisdom, expertise, knowledge and experience to the table to help enhance what other Solvers are working on. 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
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Please explain in more detail here.

I am preparing to enter into my seed round of funding. I am starting to pitch to investors. I believe it would be helpful to have support as I move into this stage of my business. 

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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

I am still discovering who and what these organizations are and what a partnership could look like. I believe it would be beneficial to develop partnerships with MIT faculty, initiatives and Solve members. I am looking for partnership and support to grow the EXHALE app and reach more BIWOC with this resource. 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Prize to advance your solution?

I am qualified for this prize because I have created a well-being resource for the most marginalized people in our society: Black and Brown women. Well-being resources that center the Black and Brown experience are rare and that is due to systems of oppression. EXHALE is an app that provides emotional well-being resources for Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color. This solution is addressing the health and well-being that Black and Brown communities do not always have access to, and due to health disparities, are at times denied these resources. 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ASA Prize for Equitable Education? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Elevate Prize for Antiracist Technology? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GM Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The HP Prize for Advancing Digital Equity? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use the Innovation for Women Prize to advance your solution?

I am qualified for this prize because I have created a well-being resource for the most marginalized people in our society: Black and Brown women. Well-being resources that center the Black and Brown experience are rare and that is due to systems of oppression. EXHALE is an app that provides emotional well-being resources for Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color. This solution is addressing the health and well-being that Black and Brown women do not always have access to, and due to health disparities, are at times denied these resources. Our solution plans to add a feature that will be called EXHALE Kids for Black and Brown children to partner with in their well-being journeys. 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The AI for Humanity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Solution Team

 
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