Amy Looper on Using AI to Make Schools Safe and Kids Emotionally Healthy - Kathy Varol
Amy Looper
October 13, 2021   |   Episode #: 014

Amy Looper on Using AI to Make Schools Safe and Kids Emotionally Healthy

Show Notes:

Amy Looper is an AI EdTech/MedTech social venture entrepreneur and the Co-Founder/COO of OneSeventeen Media.

With nine partners and a stellar team, she grew her first tech company 8,164% in 35 months resulting in a $158M IPO. Now on her fourth company, Amy and her partner have built a digital mental health & analytics platform called reThinkIt! for School™ that makes kids emotionally healthier through a combination of AI and interpersonal communication and intervention. The evidence-based mobile app has already prevented a school shooting and multiple student suicides.

OneSeventeen Media is a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) recognized for meeting the highest standard of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency as one of the top 5% of B Corporations in the world using their business as a force for good.

Learn more about OneSeventeen Media here. If you’re interested in offering reThinkIt! To your employees, or recommending it to your child’s school, contact OneSeventeen Media here.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The foundational component to building resilience (at any age)
  • The mental and emotional impact of valuing and validating kids and their experiences
  • An example of repurposing technology to approach a human problem in a new and effective way
  • 4 practical business lessons learned from a serial entrepreneur
  • The value of using an “ecosystem approach” to problem-solving

Key Takeaways:

  • Going back to the story Amy told about being consistently bullied as a child, I can’t help but think of the profound impact on self-concept and self-esteem that results from being able to separate our experiences from our identity. When we are able to learn that we are not the same as what happens to us, that we are not the same as how people treat us, then our potential becomes limitless. However, when we internalize these experiences and confuse them with our identity, the narratives end up becoming a prison.
  • I’m blown away by the impact reThinkIt! has had on kids and consequently their school environment. It’s great from a school P&L standpoint, but what’s more important is the human impact. As a society, what would we pay to reduce or eliminate teen suicide and school shootings? How about teen depression? It seems an obvious choice that the government would mandate reThinkIt! in every single public school. Since we aren’t there yet, let’s leverage the power of Word of Moms and Dads and PTA’s to start demanding it.
  • I’m very intrigued by reThinkIt! being offered through employee benefit programs to help employees’ kids. It seems like a really creative solution, and I haven’t seen many employee benefits targeted to employees’ kids before. I’m curious how much presenteeism is caused by parents being distracted at work with worries about their kids, and how much that loss in productivity would lessen if kids were equipped with a tool they trusted to help them navigate their emotions.


  • Communities in Schools is a non-profit organization supporting schools across the country
  • Strategyzer offers tools and training for companies
  • The difference between mental health and emotional health, from “The Emotional and Mental Aspects of Well-Being” by Andrea Herron: Mental health refers to our ability to process information; Emotional health refers to our ability to express feelings that are based on the information we’ve processed.
  • The time teachers spend disciplining students in the classroom, from the “Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Scholastic Teacher Survey” says: 53% of teachers reported they would like to spend less time disciplining students; Teachers reported they spend 4 hours out of their 7.5 hour day disciplining students in their classrooms.
  • Report from the American School Counselors Association (ASCA), “State-by-State Student-to-Counselor Ratio Maps By School District” by Pooja Patel and Melissa Clinedinst. The ASCA’s data in this report was commissioned for the district-level student-to-counselor ratios to provide and further inform policy discussions at the local, state, and federal level about the need to hire, train, and equip more school counselors. ASCA recommends that schools strive to maintain a ratio of no more than 250 students per counselor. In 2015–16, only two states, Vermont and New Hampshire, had average ratios that met this standard. There are several additional data points worth noting that also suggest a critical lack of access to school counseling assistance for students nationwide.” 1) The national average during this time (2015 – 2016) was 470 students per one counselor (470:1), nearly double the recommended ratio. 2) Nearly one in five students don’t have access to a school counselor, leaving approximately 8 million students without access to proper counseling support. 3) 1.7 million students go to a school with a police officer but no counselors. While the 250 students to 1 school counselor ratio (250:1) has been a long-time recognized standard that various education and counseling industry organizations accepted, to be fair, it should be noted there is debate that this number lacks evidence-based research. There is now a renewed debate and new on-going research about what the exact ratio should be.
  • Lowest student-to-school-counselor ratio since 1986: Economic recovery and concerns about school shootings led to hiring more counselors” By Jill Barshay, April 27, 2020.
  • U.S. Department of Education’s Student to School Psychologist Ratio by state 2019 – 2021: Based on the US Department of Education Common Core of Data.
  • Report written by EAB Adolescent Mental Health In Schools –– “Are Districts the Nation’s Adolescent Mental Health Care Providers? A Mandate to Support Seven Million Students in Crisis.” This report provides an in-depth look at the state of the adolescent mental health crisis in the U.S. It provides easy to read data and recommendations for all stakeholders –– Students, Parents, Teachers and Educators. A couple of staggering statistics in support of why products and services that provide a broad range of wellness and mental healthcare solutions for kids need to be easily accessible for them at school and at home:
    • 1) An 80% increase in the percentage of U.S. adolescents reporting a major depressive episode per year, 2010-2018
    • 2) 3,069 is the number of suicide attempts made on average each day by students in grades 9-12
    • 3) 75% of children receiving mental health care received that care in a school setting
    • 4) Youth are 21 times more likely to visit a school-based health clinic for their mental health care than a community-based clinic
    • 5) 8 in 10 of people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions.
  • Back to School amidst the New Normal: Ongoing Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Children’s Health and Well-Being” by Elizabeth Williams/Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • Report from Mental Health America. A community-based nonprofit dedicated to helping all people achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives: 2021 State of Mental Health in Americaby Maddy Reinert, Theresa Nguyen and Danielle Fritze.
  • Access To Mental Health: Startups Tackle Sector’s Complexities As Investors Go All-in” by Christine Hall.
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