HIAS Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development

SILVER SPRING, Md.—HIAS announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Rebecca Dempster, HIAS’ Director for Mental Health and Psychosocial Services will lead the HIAS team in Kenya to pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled, “Blended Intervention: Digital Mental Health Game and Mentoring for Treatment of Common Perinatal Mental Disorders in Adolescent Refugee Mothers.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dr. Dempster’s project is one of 35 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 20 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

To receive funding, Dr. Dempster and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of three critical global heath and development topic areas.  The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in October 2018.    

With the GCE funding, HIAS will develop an online game and mentorship-based intervention to improve the mental health of adolescent refugee mothers in Nairobi, Kenya. Digital games can help treat mental health disorders such as depression particularly in young people because they have a natural appeal and are easy to access from home. The project team in Kenya, working under the leadership of Dr. Dempster, will recruit and train young mothers to act as mentors to support the online game, and pilot test their approach on a sample of 15 adolescent refugee mothers over three months to evaluate feasibility, acceptability, and effect on maternal depression.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 1365 projects in more than 65 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.

HIAS is the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees—including women and children, and ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities—whose lives are in danger for being who they are. Guided by our values and history, HIAS helps refugees rebuild their lives in safety and advocates to ensure that all displaced people are treated with dignity.


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