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Infinite Campus Foundation Offers $1 Million Prize for Mental Health and Addiction Innovation

Blaine, Minnesota (September 24, 2021) - The Infinite Campus Foundation announced a $1 million prize today for the creation of a regional mental health and addiction network. Charlie Kratsch, founder and CEO of Infinite Campus, Inc., an educational software company, pledged the amount for the most innovative idea to streamline access to mental health services.

In recent years, more light has been shed on the importance of mental health. While some patients are served adequately, others are severely underserved. Navigating state-operated services and various healthcare systems to access the correct care has become too complex and confusing for those who are searching for help when they need it most.

“This statewide competition challenges individuals and organizations to work together to create a network of service providers with a central hub giving those in need a one-stop shop to find the services best suited for them,” said Charlie Kratsch, who is launching the competition through his Blaine-based software company’s charitable arm.

The $1 million prize will be awarded to one or more eligible nonprofits who can best demonstrate their ability to create a regional network of mental health and addiction service providers, create or identify a central hub through which the public can access the network, and document their experiences so they can be shared with future networks.

On Friday, September 24, Governor Walz attended a press conference to lend his support to this innovative approach.  

“More Minnesotans are seeking mental health treatment than ever before, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made those who struggle with their mental health and substance abuse more vulnerable,” said Governor Walz. “This competition will spearhead innovation to help Minnesotans gain access to affordable mental health care and ensure they have the support needed to stay healthy.”

Nearly half of all Americans will experience mental health issues in their lifetime, and roughly 25 percent will have a diagnosable condition in any given year. Behind those numbers are real people and their families, and Kratsch can speak to this firsthand. Ten years ago, he and his wife, Brenda, saw no signs before their 16-year-old son had a psychotic episode and needed immediate mental health treatment.

While their son eventually received the help he needed, Kratsch and his family realized how challenging it can be for someone in crisis and their family to even know where to start when it comes to accessing mental health services.

“It’s difficult, if not impossible, to navigate the complexities of the current mental health system,” said Kratsch, who has directly funded other mental health initiatives. “The problem isn’t so much a lack of resources…it’s finding the right mix of resources and coordinating them.”

Nowhere is the need for improved mental health service delivery more evident than in law enforcement.

“We are seeing a rise in the number of people with mental health issues in the jail,” said Commander Dave Pacholl, who oversees the Anoka County Jail. “A new streamlined system and approach would help the arrest-jail-court cycle. It would also benefit the community because you are not constantly spending resources on people in that situation when you don’t need to. If you can more effectively take care of people with mental health services, everyone will be better off.”

Lori Kordell, a mental health advocate and Executive Director of Operation No Limits, a nonprofit that strives to enhance the lives of at-risk youth, believes that Kratsch’s challenge is much needed. In 2009 she was driving her son and his friends when another driver, who was trying to end his life, hit her car at a high rate of speed. While all involved survived the crash, it was at that moment Kordell knew something more needed to be done to help those with mental health issues.

“Charlie has the spirit and resources to make this network successful and help the people who need it most,” said Kordell. “We can’t continue to try and fix a broken system. We need to do things differently and this challenge is exactly what is needed.”

About the Infinite Campus Foundation

The charitable arm of Infinite Campus was founded in 2009, and its primary focus is to identify and support programs and services in the Twin Cities’ north metro communities that serve teens with mental health issues. The foundation has contributed millions of dollars through financial and material donations. More information about the competition will be posted on the Infinite Campus Foundation website (http://www.infinitecampusfoundation.org).

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