Foundation Disruptive Innovation Challenge- Currently Closed  


The Disruptive Innovation Challenge is your opportunity to develop that “Big Idea” that will advance the practice and profession of systemic family therapy. The purpose of this challenge is to encourage Marriage and Family Therapists to think of an innovative advancement that benefits MFTs, consumers or other stakeholders invested in systemic family therapy. This Challenge asks MFTs to think outside of the box, and submit innovative new ideas that, if brought to fruition, can answer a question in a compelling way, but are not yet commercially available.

  • When considering this challenge keep the following in mind:
    • What is a disruptive innovation that can bring awareness of systemic related family therapy, serve to advance the practice and profession of marriage and family therapy, as well as the various communities around us?
    • Is the idea relevant to Marriage and Family Therapy?
    • Does the project or process demonstrate service to advance the practice and profession of systemic family therapy in an innovative way so as to bring awareness of family therapy to our communities?

Key judging criteria:

Submission to the Challenge will be judged by a diverse panel of Clinical Fellows of AAMFT, spanning a variety of expertise.

  • Originality/Desirability (60%) – How original or unique is this idea? Has this already been tried? How desirable is this idea? Is this an idea that is clearly needed or desired by someone specific? If it comes to fruition, would it be valuable to someone and is that someone clearly defined?
  • Plan/Feasibility (40%) – How clear, logical and likely are the steps outlined in the submission to demonstrate the potential of the idea? How feasible is it to implement the project or process to the community? What are the metrics for evaluation?

What if my project or process is chosen?

  • If your project or process is selected, the Research & Education Foundation will support the project itself. It will be expected for you to attend the AAMFT Annual Conference in Austin, TX August 29 – Sept 1, 2019.
  • The Research & Education Foundation will award up to a $10,000 grant to assist in implementing the project or process.

In order to maximize the effect of these grants on innovation and to track project or process development, winners will also be required to provide reporting on their progress and use of funds in activity summary reports, to be delivered throughout a set of development windows.


  • AAMFT member in good standing for individual submissions.
  • A group of no more than five (5) individuals to a “team”, with one team member being the principle author and being an AAMFT member in good standing.
  • Open to United States and Canadian membership.
  • Incomplete registration forms will disqualify an individual or team from eligibility, so please be sure to complete the form before submitting. Do not submit more than one form per team.
  • Project leader of each project chosen will need to submit a W-9 and 1099 Form.
  • No Corporations need apply.
  • Any taxes are the responsibility of the project leader. By submitting an application, participants consent to the use of their name in AAMFT Research & Education Foundation publications and for their submissions to be posted on AAMFT Research & Education Foundation’s website. Competition is void where prohibited. Awards not payable where prohibited.          

Key Dates:

November 17, 2018 – Call for Applications Opens
January 7, 2019 – Live chat about the application process. Click here to register!
April 2, 2019 – Application Period Closes
June 14, 2019 – Projects chosen announced

To submit your application, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Collect Information and Fill out Application –
    1. Application Information - Each team must fill out the appropriate application, which will include the contact information of those working on the project, with at least one principal author being an AAMFT member.
    2. Letter of Intent - Further, a letter of intent will be required that highlights the title of the project, authors, and a brief description of how the project or process meets the challenge question provided above.
    3. Budget Information - For the application, be prepared to provide information about the proposal project including a detailed budget on how you plan on utilizing the funds should your project or process be chosen.
  2. Prepare, Proof and Submit – Be sure to read instructions carefully, and proof narrative before submitting. Please see list of considerations and criteria.

Disruptive Innovation Award Criteria

The intent of this challenge is to help advance the practice and profession of systemic family therapy through the use of disruptive innovation/technology. While only one award can be given, all applicants will have their ideas highlighted. The purpose is to stimulate more ideas that can benefit this grand profession.

What we are looking for are truly innovative ideas that might turn the profession a bit upside down. Some questions to consider about your potential project:

  1. Is it innovative and potentially disruptive to the profession or practice?
  2. Will it either benefit clinicians or consumer or maybe both?
  3. Do you have enough evidence that it could actually succeed?
  4. It is okay to advance an idea or available product as long as it results in a truly innovative outcome. Intellectual capital plagiarism is strictly prohibited.

We do not want to provide you with limits or too small of a box to work in. Therefore, dream big! Even if it fails, the idea will stimulate others into looking for advancements.

Specific variables we consider:


The challenge question specifically asks for “a disruptive innovation that can bring awareness of systemic related family therapy,” and originality and desirability carries the highest weight of our criteria because we want groundbreaking ideas. Entries should be unique and not something that has already been attempted elsewhere. The point of the challenge is to identify innovative ideas that have not been tried and rewarding the best ones to push the project into something that can be tested. We encourage participants to do a quick search to see if their project is already floating around somewhere.


The challenge question also includes the word “serve” because we want projects that are valuable to someone. Entries should clearly define how the project fills a need or is desired by someone. For a project to move past the idea stage, it has to provide value. If the idea were to move forward and become tangible, would someone want it and find value in it?


Our winner will be expected to move their project forward in a meaningful way and we want to see how they plan to do so. Participants should include the steps they will take to move the project forward in the application. Judges will review the plan to make sure the steps outlines are relevant, appropriate and achievable to move the project ahead.


How feasible is the project or process? Can it be done within a budget up to $10,000? While dreaming big is a cornerstone of the Challenge, if the project cannot be executed, it is not going to create disruptive innovation.


Projects or process should provide meaningful impact. Projects that disrupt organizations, processes, or models are very welcomed. Projects should be far reaching and have appeal to systemic family therapists throughout the world.

Tips to consider.

  1. Innovation and Disruption! We are not looking simply for the next great idea. We are looking for an idea that disrupts the profession!
  2. You can advance but not copy. Know what is out there in the field. Make sure you are not copying an idea.
  3. Clearly explain how this is innovative and disruptive. Describe the need and the impact your project or process will have on the profession. How can disruption or impact be measured?
  4. Consider the “package” of your submission. Is it well written? Does it meet the criteria?
  5. Make sure your timeline is clear, realistic and achievable.
  6. Clearly describe how the award of up to $10,000 will be used to help launch this project. What will the funding enable you to do that you could not do otherwise?
  7. Have friends who will give a productive and realistic review of your application.  Make sure the message you want communicated to the review panel is being communicated.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at  

To apply for the Disruptive Innovation Challenge click here

Examples of Engaging Community Projects: The World Government Submit 2017- Non-Tech Ideas

Disruptive and Collaborative Innovations in Mental Health

With a range of stimulating programs and activities, the Foundation is continuously pushing innovation and creativity in systemic family therapy.