The Pathlight Challenge
pathlight challnege

Pathlight was conceived 65 years ago by five mothers who wanted a different life for their children with developmental disabilities. That forward-thinking spirit laid the foundation for many Pathlight innovations. We were the first to:

  • offer a developmental day school in western Massachusetts
  • create community homes in Massachusetts
  • develop the pioneering Shared Living model in the country
  • open an autism resource center funded by the state

It’s in Pathlight’s DNA to be at the cutting edge of service refinement and expansion for people with intellectual disabilities, which is why we are happy to report that we have joined with Valley Venture Mentors (VVM)—a Springfield-based business that supports startups with intensive accelerator and mentorship programs—to create the Pathlight Challenge.
“It’s a great partnership,” Ruth Banta, Pathlight’s Executive Director, said. “We’re tying our history of innovation and our passion for the people that we serve to entrepreneurs’ passion for innovation and breaking barriers.”

The Challenge began in the autumn with a national call to entrepreneurs to develop technology aimed at increasing independence for people with intellectual disabilities. The prize is two coveted spots in VVM’s Accelerator program.

In November, Pathlight employees, board members, and stakeholders interviewed the top six applicants chosen from a pool of over 30.

Our winners are: Galactic Smarties, which is working on a Personalized Smart Fire Alarm System, and Habit Stackr, a company developing an Executive Functioning Coach App.

Underway now, the Accelerator Program is a four-month intensive program that connects entrepreneurs to experts (that’s us!) and investors as they craft their products. In May, the Pathlight fellows graduate from the Accelerator, at which time their technologies will be unveiled.

“To our knowledge, this challenge is the first of its kind,” said Paul Silva, Chief Innovation Officer at VVM. “There are hundreds of accelerator programs in this country running every year, but I haven’t run across any that are focused on assistive technology.”

We look forward to sharing the results of these collaborations and next steps for innovation at Pathlight.

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