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Clayful: Helping Connect Students with Mental Health Experts within 60 Seconds

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By: Headliners News / December 7, 2023

In a major push to revolutionize mental health support for students, Clayful, a growing tech startup committed to connecting students aged 8 to 18 with mental health experts in just under 60 seconds, recently announced a successful funding round of $7 million. The investment comes from a group of backers, including Google Latino Founders Fund, Reach Capital, Ovo Fund, Common Sense Ventures, Charter School Growth Fund, and Wisdom Ventures.

The visionary behind Clayful, Maria Barrera, the CEO, envisions a future where every student has immediate access to a trusted, certified human coach through their devices. The platform is meticulously designed to meet students where they are, both online and offline, ensuring accessibility and convenience.

Barrera’s motivation to create Clayful stemmed from a realization that the existing mental health system in the country was failing, particularly evident in a New York Times article highlighting the alarming rise in suicides among eight-year-olds. Conversations with teachers, students, parents, and counselors further revealed the inadequacy of mental health services in schools, with a widening gap between the number of kids in need and the available providers.

Addressing the counselor shortage in schools became a primary objective for Barrera and Melissa Pelochino, Chief Experience Officer of Clayful, both of whom brought over 20 years of combined experience in the edtech and education sectors. The startup, founded two years ago, emerged from the duo’s commitment to meeting students’ mental health needs and bridging the existing service gaps in schools.

Clayful distinguishes itself from competitors like Daybreak and Cartwheel with its unique feature – connecting users to mental health experts in just 60 seconds using instant messaging technology. This real-time connection allows students to receive on-demand, chat-based support, emphasizing timely assistance for everyday challenges, emotional management, and problem-solving.

The platform, which caters to over 50 schools nationwide, operates on a model where school district decision-makers, including superintendents and directors of student services, can bring the platform to their student body. The emphasis on expanding partnerships with schools ensures broad access and equity, irrespective of a student’s family means or geographic location.

Unlike traditional mental health care models that may require in-person meetings, Clayful prioritizes supporting students in real time, eliminating the need for appointment delays. The platform offers support in 133 languages, promoting inclusivity and accessibility for diverse communities. Importantly, Clayful is entirely free for students, with the funding provided by the school districts.

The impact of Clayful’s approach is already evident, with students who engaged in coaching chat programs during the 2022-2023 school year showing significantly improved attendance rates. The startup, currently a fully remote company with over 100 staff members, including mental care coaches, plans to utilize the newly acquired funds to scale its team and extend its reach to more schools and students.

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