Naperville Native Wins $300,000
Naperville native Trisha Prabhu received a $300,000 prize for her app ReThink.
What is ReThink?
ReThink operates as a keyboard on mobile devices. It detects harmful language and gives users a chance to “ReThink” before sending offensive messages. Before a message is sent, a box will appear asking if the person is sure they want to send the message.
“When I was 13, I read a news story about a Florida girl that had died by suicide after being cyberbullied. I was horrified. Curious to understand why teens were so willing to post offensive messages online, I started to investigate the potential connections between adolescent brain development and cyberbullying,” said Prabhu. “My research revealed an interesting link. Because the prefrontal cortex, which oversees impulse control, isn’t developed until the age of 25, many teens struggle with in-the-moment decision making (such as: posting an offensive message). That’s when I began to wonder, if I gave teens a chance to think through the decision to post an offensive message, would they still do it? I knew I’d stumbled onto a world-changing idea — and ReThink was born.”
The Elevate Prize
Prabhu was one of 10 chosen from nearly 1,300 candidates for the first annual Elevate Prize. And according to the 20-year-old, she’s the youngest winner. The Elevate Prize Foundation aims to amplify the impact of people working for social change and drive progress.
Elevate Prize winners received the big cash prize, as well as access to expert networks and resources so they can “take their ideas to the next level.”
Prabhu plans on using the prize money to expand internationally to develop ReThink in different languages. She also hopes to add new features to tackle issues such as sexting. Her long-term goal, given the funding, is to partner with phone carrier companies.
“It’s an immense honor, and feels like a dream come true. The award validated my work and my journey thus far and has given me the funds and resources to continue to impact lives,” said Prabhu. “Winning also makes me hopeful. I’m a big believer in the idea that anyone, no matter who you are, can be a changemaker. ReThink is a simple concept and yet it’s incredibly powerful with the potential to redefine the character of our Internet. I hope folks learn that innovation isn’t rocket science; it’s about really caring about important problems and doing the work to find the solutions that will close the gap.”
Prabhu is currently a Harvard student and will be deciding on a major later this year.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
photo courtesy: ReThink.com
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