Apps Against Abuse Challenge

Submission Deadline

Submissions are Closed


  • First Place The winners of this challenge will be publicly recognized and celebrated by HHS, and all finalist applications will be featured on an HHS website. Representatives from HHS, (e.g., Todd Park), OSTP (e.g., Aneesh Chopra) and OVP will be present for the announcement of the Challenge Winner (Date TBD) to celebrate innovations toward ending domestic violence and sexual assault, including the winning applications and teams from this challenge.
First Place

Circle of 6

Circle of 6 logo

Team Members

Deb Levine, Nancy Schwartzman, Christine Corbett Moran, Thomas Cabus

Circle of 6 is an iPhone app for college-aged students and their friends to stay close, stay safe, and prevent violence before it happens.

First Place

On Watch

On Watch logo

Team Members

Jill Campbell

OnWatch is a mobile app designed to help young adults--those most at risk for sexual violence and dating abuse--protect themselves and provide support to their peers, by instantly and discreetly connecting them to the people they trust when they need it most. In just two taps, a user can transmit critical information--by phone, email, text, and social media--to their own support network, emergency services and Campus Police.


Young women face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. Nineteen percent of women (nearly 1 in 5) report experiencing sexual assault while in college. Many of these assaults occur when the offender, often an acquaintance, has targeted and isolated a young woman in vulnerable circumstances. “Bystander” campaigns teach peers how to identify these circumstances and intervene before an assault occurs.  Dating violence also disproportionately affects young women in this demographic. Young people turn to each other for help more often than they turn to parents, but most don’t know how to intervene if a friend needs help. Seventy-five percent of college students say that it is important to intervene, but over half say they don’t know how. Moreover, sixty percent of college students who have been in an abusive relationship say no one helped them. Websites, hotlines and resources are available for those who have experienced or are currently experiencing violence and abuse.  However, few tools currently exist to proactively prevent violence and abuse from occurring.


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are collaborating with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence on college campuses. Consistent with the Office of the Vice President’s focus on the high rates of dating violence and sexual assault violence committed against young women, this developer’s challenge encourages the creation of innovative applications to help young adults prevent violence and abuse.

Vice President Biden and Secretary Sebelius are honored to announce a challenge that encourages the development of applications that provide college students and young adults with the tools to help prevent dating violence andsexual assault. The application envisioned will offer individuals a way to connect with trusted friends in real-time to prevent abuse or violence from occurring. While the application will serve a social function of helping people stay in touch with their friends, it will also allow friends to keep track of each other’s whereabouts and check in frequently to avoid being isolated in vulnerable circumstances.

The primary users of the application may include (but are not limited to) college/university students, residential advisors, sorority or fraternity members, and young men and women who would like to be role models and promote prevention in our communities.  Everyone has a role to play in the prevention of violence and abuse, and while no one can do everything, everyone can do something. This application is envisioned to empower young people, in real time, to look out for their friends in order to prevent violence or assault before it occurs. The application should also be designed to provide potential bystanders with real-time support from friends and access to resources that will encourage them to intervene before abusive behavior happens and educate them about how to do so safely and effectively. This application is a step in enabling young women and men to take an active role in the prevention of dating violence and sexual assault.


  • Submission Period: Start: Jul 13, 2011 12:00 AM EDT End: Oct 17, 2011 11:59 PM EDT
  • Judging Period: Start: Oct 18, 2011 12:00 AM EDT End: Oct 24, 2011 11:59 PM EDT
  • Winners announced: Oct 31, 2011 12:00 AM EDT

Review Panel

    • Dr. Audie A. Atienza
    • HHS
    • Dr. Sonja Batten
    • VACO Office of Mental Health Services
    • Ms. Shawndell Dawson
    • HHS
    • Ms. Allison Randall
    • Dept of Justice/HHS
    • Ms. Elizabeth Kittrie
    • HHS
    • Ms. Janhavi Kirtane
    • HHS

Evaluation Criteria

1. Usefulness
Each entry will be rated for its ability to empower young adults to help prevent dating violence and sexual assault with real-time direct connections, social media integration, safety/privacy, and access to reputable resources all considered.
1a) Real-time check-in
The application/prototype should allow users to designate “trusted friends/allies/emergency contacts” and provide a means for checking-in directly with these individual in real-time. Mobile app may be particularly useful.
1b) Privacy, Security, Safety:
The app/prototype should address privacy/security/safety issues explicitly (for users, trusted friends, and bystanders). The ability for users to utilize the app discreetly in threatening situations or “disguises” the intent to contact others is important
1c) Connection to DV resources:
The application/prototype should enable speedy access to reputable domestic violence and sexual assault resources (websites, hotlines, chats, etc.) and allow for users to refer others to those resources as circumstances demand.
1d) Social media integration
Connection or integration of the application/prototype to existing and new social media, including campus resources, is a option that should be considered. It could allow users to identify themselves as people who stand up against violence and abuse.
2. Innovativeness
Each entry will be rated for the degree of new thinking and creativity it brings to applications focusing on the prevention of violence and abuse among young adults.
3. Usability
Each entry will be rated on its user-friendliness and interactive capabilities.
4. Potential Impact
Each entry will be rated on the strength of its potential to help college students and young adults learn about and prevent violence and assault from occurring.

Submission Requirements

Interested persons should read these Official Rules and register at the portal.  Registration is free and can be completed anytime during the Application Submission Period, July 13, 2011, to October 17, 2011.  Submissions should include a title, text description of the submission, a link to the application/prototype, and a list of data sources and/or datasets used.  Pictures and video are optional but helpful.