Say Something Anonymous Reporting System
Empowering youth and adults to prevent violence
Pitch us on your solution
Firearm deaths are at the highest levels in 20 years with eight American children killed daily. Suicide rates for young teens are the highest since tracking began in 1960. Research shows that in most mass shootings and/or suicides, the individual tells people their intentions or displays concerning behaviors before committing violence. These acts are preventable when youth/adults are taught to recognize the warning signs of someone at risk of hurting themselves/others and empowered with a confidential way to voice their concerns. The Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS) is a digital platform (app/website/hotline) where anonymous users submit safety concerns which are assessed by a 24/7 Crisis Center that alerts local school/police teams to intervene and prevent tragedy. In use by over 1.1 million students in 5,100+ schools—and growing—it has helped prevent multiple school shooting plots, suicides, bullying, and more. SS-ARS will revolutionize school safety/violence prevention if scaled nationwide.
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What is the problem you are solving?
Gun violence is a major American public health crisis. Nearly 40,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2017, the highest in over two decades. American children are 36.5 times more likely to be killed by a gun than children in other high-income countries. Suicide rates for young teens are the highest since tracking began in 1960. The most common method of suicide for teens is by firearm. These statistics are unacceptable considering that most incidents of gun violence are preventable. In most of these violent acts, the individual displays warning signs BEFORE committing violence/self-harm—especially amongst youth grades 6-12. Research reports that: 1) 80% of school shooters told someone of their violent plans; 2) 93% of above-mentioned shooters showed disturbing behavior that concerned others; and 3) 80% of people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions. Unfortunately, these behaviors are ignored or not understood, believed, or reported to authorities. SS-ARS offers a comprehensive, holistic solution by educating and empowering youth/adults to recognize warning signs and safely voice their concerns so that school/law enforcement teams can intervene in time to prevent tragedy. This creates a dynamic collaborative community partnership between students, parents, schools, and law enforcement focused on preventing violence.
Who are you serving?
Since launching SS-ARS in 2018, Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) has delivered the program to over 1.1 million youth in 24 states, reaching diverse urban/suburban/rural communities. The program has helped avert multiple school shooting plots, suicides, gun threats; reduced bullying/cyberbullying; intervened upon cutting, hate crimes, and other forms of violence/self-harm; and helped hundreds of youth get needed mental health assistance. SHP developed SS-ARS in response to feedback from youth around the country who, after being trained in SHP’s Know the Signs programs, expressed that they couldn’t identify a trusted adult who they would share a safety concern with or were too afraid to come forward publicly. SHP continues to solicit feedback from the students/schools it trains to understand how SS-ARS is addressing their needs and drive program improvements. In each participating community, SHP customizes assessment/response protocols with school/law enforcement partners. SHP is also partnering with researchers at The University of Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center on a federally-funded evaluation of SS-ARS in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The study will measure the program’s impact on outcomes including improved risk recognition, increased risk reporting, improved school/community response, improved school climate, decreased violence and violence antecedents in school, and decreased criminal justice involvement.
What is your solution?
In 2018, SHP launched SS-ARS, in response to youth feedback, to provide youth/adults with a safe and anonymous reporting platform where they can voice their concerns via 24/7 app/website/hotline to get help for at-risk individuals BEFORE they hurt themselves or others. SS-ARS offers a powerful digital solution that connects students, schools, and law enforcement to prevent violence, suicide, bullying, self-harm, and other forms of threatening/harmful behavior. To implement SS-ARS, SHP formally partners with states and/or school districts and local law enforcement to establish processes and protocols that will ensure holistic, coordinated interventions to reports submitted via SS-ARS so that at-risk individuals get the help they need and the community remains safe. First SHP trains the school district/law enforcement teams and establishes customized classifications of life-safety versus non-life-safety reports. Then SHP trains all middle/high school students in Say Something, SHP’s marquee violence prevention program, and the use of the SS-ARS platform. This program teaches students to recognize the warning signs and signals, especially in social media, of someone who might be at-risk of hurting themselves or others; to take those signs seriously, and to say something to a trusted adult or make a confidential report through SS-ARS.
All reports submitted via the SS-ARS platform are assessed by SHP’s 24/7, bilingual crisis center that triages reports into life-safety and non-life-safety situations based on the district’s custom classifications. Local school/law enforcement response teams are immediately alerted to life-safety reports, ensuring there is no gap in communication around critical safety issues and enabling them to intervene in as little as minutes to avert crisis and get at-risk youth the mental health and/or other assistance they need to address the underlying issues. Unlike traditional crisis hotlines, SS-ARS is designed for third-person as well as first-person reporting and tipsters can easily upload screenshots, audio/video clips, etc. to further substantiate the threat. Crisis Counselors can confidentially interface with users to gather more information critical to assessing the credibility and risk-level of the situation and driving successful intervention. SS-ARS also provides case management capabilities by keeping reports “open” until the school district and/or local law enforcement response teams “close” the report by inputting the intervention that took place. The reporting system platform (app/website) is managed by P3 Campus Software, a national digital leader in the school safety space. SHP is able to efficiently scale the program by training students via a combination of in-person training and digital presentation.
Which dimensions of the challenge does your solution most closely address?
Where is your solution team headquartered?Newtown, CT, USA
Our solution's stage of development:
Select one of the below:
New business model or process
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
While SS-ARS is not the first anonymous reporting system introduced into the school safety/youth violence prevention space, there are several factors which distinguish SS-ARS as innovative and represent a change in process/business model promising significant impact in preventing youth violence and self-harm. One of these factors is SHP’s ambitious plans and capacity to scale SS-ARS nationwide. In little over one year, SHP has delivered SS-ARS to 1.1 million middle/high school students in 5,100+ schools and 24 states. This included a partnership with the State of Pennsylvania to train all middle/high school students across the state. Over the upcoming school year, SHP will partner with North Carolina to train all middle/high school students in that state, as well. Part of SHP’s scaling strategy is to partner with 1-2 additional states per year while still training individual school districts nationwide. Another innovative feature of SS-ARS is that in many participating districts SHP is simultaneously delivering other evidence-informed violence prevention programs and establishing student-led Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) Promise Clubs. SAVE Promise Clubs mobilize youth’s unique leadership role in building safer communities by providing students with ideas/resources/support to lead year-round violence prevention activities. Another innovative feature distinguishing SS-ARS is SHP’s commitment to evaluating its effectiveness through a rigorous, federally-funded evaluation with The University of Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center that will drive program improvements and contribute to the field’s knowledge base of effective school-based violence prevention strategies. Unlike traditional crisis hotlines, SS-ARS is designed for third-person as well as first-person reports.
Describe the core technology that your solution utilizes.
SS-ARS is a new business model/process that relies on a digital platform (app/website) through which youth and adults can make confidential reports about individuals who might be at-risk of hurting themselves or others. SHP developed SS-ARS in response to direct feedback from students around the country. After years of training students to report safety concerns to trusted adults, students repeatedly expressed the need for a safe, anonymous reporting system as they either couldn’t identify a trusted adult or were too afraid of retribution/stigma to come forward with their concerns. As a digital platform, SS-ARS processes, stores, and case manages the large number of concerns that are reported immediately after a community is trained. So far, in little over one year of operating SS-ARS in approximately 5,100 schools nationwide, the system has processed, stored, and managed over 26,000 tips. By facilitating instant communication between the tipster and SHP’s 24/7 Crisis Center, and SHP’s Crisis Center and local school/law enforcement response teams, SS-ARS enables communities to intervene in potentially life-threatening situations of gun threats or suicides in as little as minutes. The SS-ARS platform enables SHP’s Crisis Center to engage tipsters in confidential dialogue to further substantiate tips and provide critical information to response teams, including easily uploaded screenshots and/or video/audio clips. SHP developed and leverages a digital training presentation to complement in-person training presentations on the program, enabling us to more effectively and efficiently scale the program to more and more communities around the country.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
SS-ARS is designed to prevent violence/victimization among youth through a comprehensive anonymous reporting system and educational program. The objectives are to: 1) enhance knowledge/recognition of mental duress, violent antecedents, and other risk behaviors in school communities; 2) promote a positive attitude toward reporting potential risks and increase reporting; 3) establish a coordinated response system among students, families, school staff. SHP trains students in its evidence-informed Say Something program to recognize warning signs of someone who might be at risk of hurting themselves or others and to say something to a trusted adult or through SS-ARS. SHP also trains students, school teams, and law enforcement points-of-contact on the SS-ARS technological interface so that tips assessed by SHP’s 24/7 Crisis Center can lead to effective and timely interventions. The Theory of Change is that these activities will lead to the program effort (e.g., number of youth/adults trained) and ARS usage outputs (e.g., number of ARS app downloads, number of incidents reported, number of referrals). This will lead to short-term outcomes (improved risk recognition, increased risk reporting, improved school/community response) and, in turn, long-term outcomes (improved school climate, decreased violence and violence antecedents in school communities, and decreased involvement with the criminal justice system.) The University of Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center (MI-YVPC) conducted a pilot evaluation of SHP’s Say Something program in 2017, concluding that it showed promising evidence of effectiveness. MI-YVPC is currently collecting second-year data on a two-year, federally-funded evaluation of SS-ARS using a two-group randomized control test design.
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
To date, SHP has trained and equipped over 1.1 million middle/high school students in 5,100+ schools and 24 states with SS-ARS. Over the coming 2019/20 school year, SHP anticipates it will deliver SS-ARS to an additional 1 million students. Over the following two school years (2020-2022), SHP anticipates delivering SS-ARS to an additional 2.75 million middle/high school students nationwide for a total of nearly 5 million served since program inception. These figures refer to direct recipients who are trained in SHP’s Say Something education program as well trained on the use of the SS-ARS platform. As those direct recipients use SS-ARS to report safety concerns in their schools and communities, the number of surrounding youth and adults who are benefiting from the program will increase exponentially.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
One of SHP’s primary goals over the next three years is to ambitiously scale SS-ARS by partnering with 1-2 states per year to implement the program via statewide mandate. Over the 2018-19 school year, SHP successfully partnered with Pennsylvania’s Office of the Attorney General to train and equip all middle/high school students with SS-ARS, reaching over 900,000 students. Over the 2019/20 school year, SHP will partner with North Carolina to implement SS-ARS statewide with a similarly-sized student body. Over the following two school years, SHP will partner with 1-2 states per year on statewide expansion. SHP is already in discussion with several states eager to pursue statewide implementation. These partnerships are not only resource efficient means of scaling the program to thousands of schools, streamlining the work of outreach and onboarding districts, but they also provide “blanket protection” to an entire geography within a defined timeframe, enhancing the program’s impact on creating a culture of prevention and upstander behavior. SHP’s theory of change is centered on the idea that engaging a national two-generation movement committed to upstream, human-side prevention and upstander behavior will save lives and create the grounds for future legislative changes aimed at institutionalizing effective gun violence prevention policy.
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
As SHP seeks to ambitiously scale SS-ARS around the country, extending its life-changing and life-saving benefits to more and more communities, SHP is strategizing ways to overcome several anticipated barriers and challenges. These include the need to raise the necessary funding to offset program development and delivery expenses so that SS-ARS remains available to communities at little-to-no cost; building programmatic and administrative capacity to continue scaling and delivering the program with high-fidelity; establishing partnerships with state-level government agencies to mandate SS-ARS in all middle/high schools statewide; as well as measuring and disseminating rigorous program evaluations to contribute to the field’s knowledge base of effective school-based violence prevention strategies. SHP also anticipates there will arise unforeseen barriers and challenges as the program continues to expand.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
SHP has plans for robust revenue generation and a track record of success reaching its fundraising and program expansion goals. SHP will seek to leverage multiple revenue streams to fund the national expansion of SS-ARS, including an extensive grassroots fundraising base, major donors, corporations, foundations, special events, and subcontracts with state/school district partners on their federal STOP School Violence Act grants. This will be accompanied by increasing staff capacity—in terms of number of employees, experience level of employees, and ongoing professional development for employees— as well as restructuring field teams to effectively oversee and implement SS-ARS. The number of youth SHP trains each year has grown by 261% over the last three fiscal years as SHP has moved from partnering with individual schools to school districts to statewide partnerships. SHP will continue to build on this success and anticipates that states will become increasingly interested in partnering on SS-ARS as results and impact from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and all the other “live” districts using SS-ARS roll in. SHP will continue to partner with The University of Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center on rigorous evaluation designs to build the evidence-base of SS-ARS and other SHP program offerings. SHP would look forward to mentoring, technical assistance, and networking opportunities afforded through participation in the MIT Solve program.
Select an option below:
If you selected Other for the organization question, please explain here.
How many people work on your solution team?
11 full-time staff, 11 full-time contractors
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
SHP has been in operation for over six years and launched SS-ARS in early 2018
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
SHP is one of the leading nonprofits working to prevent gun violence and other forms of violence/victimization. SHP’s programs have stopped multiple school shooting plots, suicides, gun threats; reduced bullying/cyberbullying; intervened upon cutting, substance use, hate crimes, and other forms of violence/self-harm. Since opening in 2012, SHP has trained nearly 8 million youth in 14,000+ schools in all 50 states.
SS-ARS is led by one of SHP’s co-founders and Managing Directors, Tim Makris, whose son, Philip, was a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School the day of the shooting. Tim leads and develops overall organization strategy, fundraising, and operations. He brings 30+ years of marketing/sales experience with senior executive experience at Procter & Gamble and Gillette managing multi-billion dollar brands.
Paula Fynboh, VP of Field Operations, oversees all SHP programs. Paula brings 20+ field delivery and organization experience and has led the explosive national expansion of SHP’s violence prevention programs. Her knowledge of school district operations, project management capabilities, and quality assurance of program fidelity make her uniquely qualified to oversee SS-ARS expansion.
Kenji Okuma, SS-ARS Operations Director, has over 23 years of experience in law enforcement with the Nevada State Police, most recently serving as the Operations and Communications Manager for the Nevada SafeVoice Program (a K-12 anonymous reporting system.) In this role, he was responsible for staffing, training, and management of the SafeVoice Operations and Communications Center, as well as the outreach, engagement, and training of law enforcement, school, and crisis response partners.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
P3 Campus: SHP’s anonymous reporting system platform (app and website) is managed by P3 Campus (Anderson Software), a national digital leader in the school safety space.
Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCS-SF): SHP’s 24/7 Crisis Center is managed by JCS-SF, a national compliance leader with 20+ years experience providing crisis center services via trained and qualified counselors.
Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General: In 2018, SHP launched a partnership with Pennsylvania to deliver SS-ARS (co-branded in PA as Safe2Say Something Anonymous Reporting System) to all middle/high school students statewide. SHP provided all training to students, schools, and 911 dispatch centers; the PA Attorney General’s Office is managing a 24/7 Crisis Center for tips received from the state.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction: Over the 2019/20 school year, SHP will partner with North Carolina to deliver SS-ARS to all middle/high school students in the state. SHP will train all the students and will assess and triage all tips received through SHP’s 24/7 bilingual Crisis Center.
The University of Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center (MI-YVPC): SHP is partnering with MI-YVPC on a two-group cluster randomized control test evaluating the impact of SS-ARS on school climate/safety within Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
What is your business model?
SHP was founded in 2012 by family members whose children and loved ones were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a promise to turn tragedy into transformation so no other parent would have to experience the horrific death of their child to preventable violence. SHP delivers its evidence-informed Know the Signs violence prevention programs at no-cost to communities as SHP believes cost should never be a barrier in saving a life. SHP provides training to youth and adults in schools and youth organizations in diverse communities in all 50 states. SHP, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, offsets the cost of programming via a diversified funding stream as more fully described below.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
SHP sustains and grows its programs through a diverse and healthy mix of revenue streams, including an extensive grassroots fundraising base, major donors, foundations, corporations, special events, merchandise, and subcontracts with state and district partners on their federal STOP School Violence Act grants. As evidence of SHP’s ability to grow and sustain its supporter base, SHP’s organizational budget has grown by 158% over the last three completed fiscal years.
Why are you applying to Solve?
SHP is in the scale stage of expanding its powerful and innovative Say Something Anonymous Reporting System to more schools and communities nationwide. SHP is applying to Solve in the hope that partnering with Solve will help SHP overcome several of the barriers identified earlier in our application. First, an award from Solve will help SHP to continue to offer SS-ARS at little or no-cost to participating school districts, which is critical to ensuring that all communities are able to access this life-saving technology regardless of their financial resources. Second, SHP would look forward to the mentorship and networking opportunities, especially in regard to continuing to develop our scaling strategy and the necessary programmatic and administrative capacity to successfully expand SS-ARS at the national level. One of SHP’s founding beliefs is that widespread reduction in gun violence will only happen when a national two-generation movement of youth and adults is educated and engaged in proactive, preventive strategies. The potential for added media exposure through a partnership with Solve would be very valuable to our overall strategy. SHP is also open to additional opportunities for training and technical assistance that can help us advance our goals or preventing gun violence and other forms of violence/victimization.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
If you selected Other, please explain here.
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
SHP’s plans to scale SS-ARS across the country is by partnering with state-level government organizations to mandate the program in all middle/high schools. SHP’s first statewide partnership with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General successfully trained approximately 970,000 students across the state. Over the 2019/20 school year, SHP will be partnering with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to deliver the program to approximately 900,000 middle/high school students statewide. Over the next three years SHP’s plan is to partner with 1-2 additional states per year on delivering SS-ARS to all middle/high school students in the state. SHP has received inquiries from many states who are interested in partnering on statewide implementation. As the results from other state initiatives continue to build, SHP anticipates that the interest from other states will only accelerate.
If you would like to apply for the AI Innovations Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution. If you are not already using AI in your solution, explain why it is necessary for your solution to be successful and how you plan to incorporate it.
If you would like to apply for the Innovating Together for Healthy Cities Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.
If you would like to apply for the Everytown for Gun Safety Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.
If awarded the Everytown for Gun Safety Prize, SHP will utilize the prize to help offset the cost of delivering SS-ARS to school districts around the country. SS-ARS processes, stores, and manages data provided by students, families of students, school staff, and community members, who are referred to as “tipsters,” through a completely secure and anonymous platform called P3 Campus. Tips are submitted via an encrypted mobile app and/or web form on a range of topics from mental health to potential violence. Tips are received, vetted, analyzed, and triaged by a very specialized team of crisis counselors at a dedicated, top-tier communication center, led by former law enforcement. Once tips are processed at the SS-ARS Crisis Center, they are routed to designated school and law enforcement personnel who assess reported threats and intervene, as needed. These teams of multidisciplinary professionals are trained in information security, as well as responsible intel management and threat response to maintain the integrity of the program and protect the anonymity of the tipster. Regular system and program audits are conducted to ensure the security and proper handling of program data.
If you would like to apply for the Innovation for Women Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.
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If you would like to apply for the UN Women She Innovates Prize for Gender-Responsive Innovation, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.