Re-engaging Learners



Social Cipher is a video game-based platform that uses the power of storytelling to facilitate social-emotional learning and increase a sense of belonging for neurodiverse youth.

Team Lead

Vanessa Castañeda Gill

Solution Pitch

The Problem

Neurodiverse youth are more susceptible to isolation, depression (4x), and suicide (10x) compared to neurotypical peers. Educators and therapists often lack quality tools to teach them social-emotional skills.

The Solution

Social Cipher is a game-based social-emotional learning (SEL) platform for neurodivergent youth and the professionals who work with them. The three-part platform consists of a web-based video game series, Ava, an online curriculum, and a web-based companion application. In other words, the solution uses space pirate adventure games that help neurodivergent youth understand themselves and those around them, along with software that helps educators better understand their students’ social-emotional well being.


  • Over 700 students, teachers, parents, and mental health professionals currently use the Social Cipher platform.

  • The platform is being used in 51 schools and therapy centers in the US, 28 schools and therapy centers in Australia, 4 schools and therapy centers in Canada, and 1 school in the United Kingdom.

Market Opportunity

Target users are neurodivergent youth ages 10-15 (middle-high school age), as well as teachers, counselors, and mental health professionals who work with this demographic. The SEL market is projected to grow to $3.7 billion by 2024. The global game-based learning market is projected to reach $17 billion by 2023.

Organization Highlights

  • The organization is partnering with Calm Strips with an Ava-themed Calm Strip pack as well as executing an affiliate partnership with Learn Play Thrive.

Partnership Goals

Ava seeks:

  • Assistance in creating new business models that accurately price the value Social Cipher provides for each type of user: mental health professionals, educators, school district administrators, and parents. Pricing and scaling sales is currently the biggest barrier to being sustainable. 

  • Help with PR and marketing/brand awareness

2022 Black & Brown Innovator

Organization Type: For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

Headquarters: Los Angeles, CA

Stage: Pilot

Working In: United States

Current Employees: 19

Solution Website:

Solution Team:

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