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Hopelab Investment Supports Transgender, Non-binary Youth Mental Health

In partnership with TRACE

San Francisco, CA, June 27, 2023 — Today, Hopelab, a transformative social innovation lab and impact investor working at the intersection of technology and youth mental health, announced a strategic partnership with TRACE, a free platform created to affirm transgender and non-binary individuals in transition. Hopelab Ventures, an investment portfolio offering investment and partnership support for founders committed to mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth, sees potential for TRACE to achieve positive impact at scale as it begins design and implementation of the app for youth seeking gender-affirming resources.

“Providing transgender and non-binary individuals with a supportive space during their transition is paramount to their well-being,” said Erin Sietstra, head of Hopelab Ventures. “Platforms like TRACE have the power to save lives by creating and connecting communities that affirm and support their identities.”

As Pride celebrations around the U.S. draw to a close this month, Hopelab’s commitment to addressing challenges that face underserved youth remains strong, especially at a time when political attacks and threats against LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender people, continue to rise. Twenty states currently ban at least some forms of best-practice medical care for transgender youth and approximately one-third of Black transgender people live in states that currently ban best-practice medical care for transgender youth.

As TRACE focuses on supporting transgender youth, it hopes to leverage expertise from Hopelab to better serve its users. The TRACE team will attend the Summer Innovation Institute, an inaugural event focused on collaborative design and co-creation for health equity, hosted by partner organizations the Eidos LGBTQ+ Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. The five-day workshop leverages the advisory expertise and partnership networks of the Hopelab staff and focuses on topics such as design thinking, youth co-creation, research-informed frameworks, and entrepreneurship.

“The investment from Hopelab was strategic from the start,” said Aydian Dowling, CEO and Co-founder of TRACE. “As we continue on our mission to empower the transgender community by removing them from isolation and celebrating their journey with a trusted community of allies, we will leverage the Hopelab network and knowledge base to inform our focus on reaching youth on our platform.”

Hopelab’s investment in TRACE follows the news of Caraway’s $17 million series A expansion, which includes a follow-on investment from Hopelab, to broaden its focus from women to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth and users on Medicaid.

About Hopelab
Hopelab is a transformative social innovation lab and impact investor working to support the mental well-being of adolescents, ages 10-25, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. Through targeted social impact investments, youth-centered design and research support, and translational science partnerships, the organization leverages 20+ years of co-creation experience to influence systems change while centering health equity. Learn more at

TRACE is a mobile app created to foster a brighter and more gender-affirming future for transgender and non-binary individuals. Owned and operated by transgender folk, TRACE seeks to provide those in transition a safe place to document and celebrate their journey among a trusted community of allies.

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