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Catalyst Winners Continue Innovating throughout COVID-19


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Dori Kreiger
Executive Director

This week marks one year since COVID-19 was declared a national emergency, shifting American’s lives and routines overnight. Throughout this public health crisis, we have seen how the power of wireless keeps us connected to friends and family, work, education and vital services.

CTIA Wireless Foundation is proud to have continued our support of social entrepreneurs using wireless for good throughout the pandemic. This summer, we awarded grants to our first Catalyst Winners – Objective Zero Foundation, MindRight Health and Pilleve.

When we launched Catalyst in 2019, we could never have predicted the public health crisis that was just months away. In 2020, the need for wireless solutions to significant health and well-being issues became even clearer. Our Catalyst winners continued their innovative work throughout the pandemic, and adapted to the growing need for remote care and access to their services.

As we reached the year mark on COVID-19, we asked our Catalyst winners how the pandemic affected their ventures. Here is what we learned:

Objective Zero Foundation

Objective Zero, a mobile app that connects service members, veterans and their families and caregivers to a nationwide network of peer and civilian support through text, voice and video chat, saw a 115% increase in use during the pandemic.

Along with the significant increase in application use, Objective Zero saw a shift in user demographics, with a rise among female users and users that work in medical settings. Additionally, more users connected with peer support by text message than via phone or video calls.

For Objective Zero, the use of wireless technology allowed them to quickly scale-up their platform for more users.

“COVID-19 has showed how important technology can be in building meaningful connections,” said Chris and Betsey Mercado, Objective Zero Foundation Co-Founders. “We need to maintain social connections while physical distancing for the foreseeable future. “

In 2021, Objective Zero is working to license their platform to other organizations that support at-risk communities, allowing them to support additional demographics, such as Native Americans, while still maintaining organization focus on military and veteran support.

MindRight Health

For MindRight Health, which delivers culturally-responsive, trauma-informed, live mental health coaching over text message to advance health equity for youth and young adults in underserved communities, COVID-19 brought a 20% increase in use.

As the pandemic caused many young people to quarantine in homes that are not physically or psychologically safe, MindRight saw an increase in the user benefit of mental health support over text message because of its private means of communication.

“The pandemic has increased awareness of the problem we are trying to solve at MindRight Health,” said Ashley Edwards, CEO, MindRight Health. “I believe this will improve our ability to serve more people in the future.”


Pilleve is tackling the opioid crisis via a wireless-enabled smart device and connected smartphone app that monitors and screens for opioid abuse and addiction. Over the course of the pandemic, Pilleve added over 60 clinics to its pipeline, saw a 25% increase in clinic adoption and a 1000% increase in patient adoption.

During the pandemic once patients became accustomed to the increase in telehealth services, Pilleve saw an uptick in user growth and increased awareness and receptivity of the product.

“COVID-19 only buttressed my belief in healthcare innovation and need to extend healthcare outside of the hospital into a patient’s home,” said Yossuf Albanawi, Pilleve Co-Founder and CEO. “We are seeing telehealth and remote solutions being invited into a clinician’s and patient’s workflow. Pilleve is certainly positioned to be a tool to help with that.”

CTIA Wireless Foundation is proud to support these social entrepreneurs’ innovative work on pressing health and well-being issues. We look forward to seeing new solutions and wireless applications through Catalyst 2021. Learn more about Catalyst and the application process here.

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