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Announcing our 2022 Unity for Humanity Grant winners

March 28, 2022 in News | 11 min. read
Unity for Humanity logo next to the words, "2022 Grant Winners"
Unity for Humanity logo next to the words, "2022 Grant Winners"

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We believe creators are the key to driving change. That’s why we launched the Unity for Humanity Grant, a program designed to support and empower social impact creators using real-time 3D to make our world a better place.

To help storytellers and solutionaries drive their projects forward, we provide grantees with funding, mentorship, and technical support. This year, we also partnered with award-winning artist and activist Common to create the Imagine Grant, given to the project that best inspires audiences to ‘imagine a better world.’

Our 2022 grant received over 200 applications which were reviewed by a team of 59 Unity judges based on vision, impact, inclusion, and viability. Finalists for the Imagine Grant were additionally vetted by Common and his team.

Today, we are thrilled to introduce the four winners of the 2022 Unity for Humanity Grant and the winner of the Imagine Grant.

Imagine Grant Winner banner with the Unity for Humanity winner 2022 logo

Songs of Cultures: Changing the world through song

Imagine Grant winner

Unity for Humanity Winner Imagine Grant 2022 - Songs of Cultures

Immigrating to a new country is rarely easy, especially for children. Songs of Cultures is a gamified learning experience that aims to help by playfully introducing kids to new languages and customs.

Developed in partnership with educators and parents, Songs of Cultures uses AR to turn familiar environments into fantastic musical worlds, facilitating the social integration of children and migrant families. With an emphasis on fun, the app encourages kids to learn about cultural differences, appreciate their own roots, and expand their horizons through the joy of music.

Songs of Cultures was created by A.MUSE, a female-founded interactive design studio producing mixed reality experiences at the intersections of art, design, technology, and social entrepreneurship. They’re on a mission to realize a more diverse and compassionate future through empathy, creativity, and community.

Inspired by her own immigration experience and Common’s song “Imagine,” A.MUSE cofounder Prof. Binh Minh Herbst hopes Songs of Cultures will “connect the young and old, strengthen family bonds, create joyful memories, and bring cultural awareness to daycare centers and elementary schools. By merging virtual spaces with the real world, we want to bring different ways of life together.”

Now that Songs of Cultures has won the Imagine Grant, the A.MUSE team hopes to use the momentum to increase accessibility and bring their game – and its important lessons – to more people around the world.

Learn more about Songs of Cultures.

2022 Grant Winners banner with the Unity for Humanity Winners 2022 logo

Augment Adventures: Easing the fears of young cancer patients

Unity for Humanity Winner 2022 - Augment Adventures

Hospitals can be scary places, and pediatric cancer patients often feel anxious before and during their radiation treatments. Augment Therapy set out to change that, developing Augment Adventures to demystify the radiotherapy process and make it less daunting.

The experience uses AR to familiarize children with radiation treatment rooms and machines ahead of time, easing their anxieties. And, on the day of their appointment, Augment Adventures guides young patients through exercises designed to reduce stress and help them relax.

Having worked with hundreds of children over her 20-year career, physical therapist Lindsay Watson teamed up with cofounder Steve Blake to create Augment Therapy and tackle the unique problems within pediatric care. The company began creating telehealth and remote monitoring-enabled AR exercises for the rehabilitation industry in 2017. In 2021, they were selected to participate in KidsX, the largest pediatric digital health accelerator in the world. From there, they joined forces with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) on a shared mission to leverage RT3D technology in improving healthcare experiences.

With their Unity for Humanity Grant funding, Augment Therapy hopes to integrate more diverse avatars, grow their collection of relaxation exercises, and create more custom treatment space renderings.

Lindsay says Augment Therapy’s goal is to create “a world where healthcare treatments can be accessed by children and their families without fear. Though many aspects of a child’s healthcare journey are unavoidable, we dream of using technology to make the experience better.”

Find out more about Augment Therapy.

Darkening: Shedding light on the realities of depression

Unity for Humanity Winner 2022 - Darkening

How does someone with depression perceive the world? Darkening is an interactive VR film that shows you, following director and protagonist Ondřej Moravec through shadowy images of the mind. Combining stylized, immersive animations of Ondřej’s environment and emotions, viewers experience the realities of depression while discovering strategies for coping with it.

Ondřej knows that the stigma behind depression needs to change. Since being hospitalized for depressive disorder at age 20, he’s been committed to sharing his story and raising awareness of mental health issues. “I imagine a world where people understand that if you have depression, it's not just a sad day. Depression is an illness. Everybody wants to be seen as the one who is simply ‘okay’, but sometimes we’re not, and that’s not a bad thing.”

To promote this kind of understanding, Darkening leverages audience input to reinforce the film’s ideas and convey useful approaches to healing. For example, viewers are encouraged to hum or shout to change scenes – a nod to the important role voice therapy has played throughout Ondřej’s journey.

Having won a Unity for Humanity Grant, the Darkening team now plans to promote their unique VR experience by mounting a large-scale distribution campaign.

“We think that a film on depression that is also hopeful is very important for everyone, whether they are struggling with mental illness or not. We’re excited to see the reactions of our audience and open important discussions with them.”

Learn more about Darkening.

My Lovely Planet: Saving the Earth through environmental gameplay

Unity for Humanity Winner 2022 - My Lovely Planet

There’s no doubt that the climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues we face, and Clément Le Bras is taking a novel approach to securing a sustainable future.

Clément is the creator of My Lovely Planet, an eco-friendly mobile game where players’ actions are duplicated in the real world. Plant a tree or tidy up ocean waste during gameplay, and the same actions are taken on Earth! The game’s innovative concept is made possible by leveraging advertising and in-app purchases, which allow My Lovely Planet to fund essential NGO projects around the world.

For Clément, technology and games have incredible potential for driving ecological preservation. “Imagine a game that unifies millions of players across the world with one mission in mind: protecting the environment. Where everything you do in the game has a positive impact in the real world.” He’s hopeful that by combining play with tangible action, gamers can be a sizable force in efforts to safeguard our planet.

Now that they’ve won a Unity for Humanity Grant, Clément and his team will focus on building community support for their mission of planting and protecting one billion trees, cleaning one million tons of plastic from the ocean, and protecting vital biodiversity.

“I’ve seen what wonderful things people can do when you give them the tools to do it. I’ve also always been passionate about gaming, and how games and storytelling can really inspire people.”

Learn more about My Lovely Planet.

TOGUNA: The accelerator of the imagination

Unity for Humanity Winner 2022 - TOGUNA

The African population is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades, likely representing a quarter of the world's total population by 2050. To successfully welcome this growth and provide job opportunities for African youth, TOGUNA founder Pierre-Christophe Gam sees the need to imagine a reality beyond the limitations of Africa’s present.

A digital and mixed media art installation that envisions a bright future, TOGUNA fuses beautiful dreams with practical solutions to address the issues facing Africa today. The project is rooted in the idea of an African renaissance – an economic, social, and spiritual restoration that can provide a more sustainable model for the whole world by 2070.

Inspiration for the project draws from the traditional meeting places of the Dogon people in Mali. For them, togunas are where communities gather to exchange and discuss ideas. TOGUNA aims to emulate the qualities of those spaces to create a modern, interactive public forum for pan-African conversation about the future of the continent.

Pierre-Christophe says that “in order to build the future, we first need to imagine it. I see this practice as a continuation of the great tradition of pre-colonial West African griots – the guardians of community memories, which they passed on through initiation songs and stories.”

Now that TOGUNA has won a Unity for Humanity Grant, Pierre-Christophe is eager to realize his vision and build an engaged intercontinental community. Working with U.K.-based executive producer Crossover Labs, he has project unveilings scheduled in London and Lagos, and can’t wait to see the public’s response and the conversations that will follow.

Learn more about TOGUNA.

Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to everyone who submitted their projects for the 2022 Unity for Humanity Grant and Imagine Grant.

To connect with us, check out our recently launched Unity for Humanity Community on Discord – a gathering place for social impact creators. There, you can meet like-minded people, locate resources for projects, and stay up-to-date with Unity for Humanity news.

Together, we can all imagine a better world.

March 28, 2022 in News | 11 min. read

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