At Ci3 we envision a world in which all youth emerge into adulthood with agency over their bodies and futures.

For Ci3, 2016 has been a year of growth, achievement, and continued social impact.

Creation of two new creative labs

At Ci3, our creative research labs are places for making research discoveries and helping youth gain knowledge and skills for healthy futures. This year, we launched two new labs.

The Transmedia Story Lab uses storytelling and media to learn and communicate about the lives of young people. The Design Thinking Lab uses human-centered design to develop interventions with youth and community members. These two labs join Ci3’s existing, Game Changer Design Lab, founded in 2012, which designs games and mobile apps. View some of our projects below.

Photo Credit:

Kissa Kahani

Gender, sexuality, and reproductive health are some of the most difficult topics for young people to express and discuss. In many parts of the globe, discussing these topics is particularly challenging. In our project Kissa Kahani, Ci3 harnesses the power of narrative to learn about gender and reproductive health for youth living in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Ci3’s Transmedia Story Lab and our local partners are listening intensely to the voices and experiences of young people and helping them create digital stories which detail critical events in their social development. Ci3 has partnered with a groundbreaking organization, Operation Asha. Together we are partnering with community organizations and young people as we apply novel methodologies to gain new insights into these complex issues.

At Ci3, we translate knowledge into meaningful interventions that influence the health and well-being of youth. Our research findings are being shared with youth and local community organizations. With the help of Ci3’s Design Thinking Lab and researchers, youth are designing interventions to address social issues that impede healthy futures for young people in their communities.

Photo Credit: ©2016, Storyographers, Inc.

Mobilizing Reproductive Health

At Ci3, we believe in health justice— that all people regardless of who they or where they live deserve quality and equitable health care. For young people, school, working parents, lack of money or insurance coverage, as well as other social and structural barriers limit their access to healthcare.

In a bold new approach to rethinking healthcare access, Ci3 is partnering with Chicagoland mobile health units and local communities to rethink how and where youth access sexual and reproductive health care. Ci3’s Design Thinking Lab is designing health care to meet the needs of youth in a way that fits into their daily lives. Our goal is to support young people’s desire to prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy in an accessible and empowering way.

Join us in mobilizing sexual reproductive healthcare for youth

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Developing Games for Social Impact

Serious games are collaborative, interactive, skill building, and educational. Ci3’s Game Changer Chicago Design Lab is tackling some of the biggest social and health problems affecting young people through the power of games and digital technologies.


The perpetration of sexual violence is now recognized as a major public health problem plaguing many young people under the age of 25. Young people need accurate information and behavioral skills at an early age to mitigate sexual harassment and assault. In 2016, Ci3’s Game Changer Chicago Design Lab designed Bystander, a digital game and curriculum for sexual violence prevention among high school students. Bystander teaches youth about sexual harassment and assault and how to shift school and social norms that perpetuate it. In addition to implementing this program in Chicago schools, Ci3 is studying the potential impact of Bystander with over 1,000 high school students.

The YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is one of the state’s largest non-profit organizations providing sexual assault counseling and prevention services. As Bystander is introduced into classrooms, the YWCA is collaborating with Ci3’s research team to support students and teachers as we as a community take on the problem of sexual violence.

Hexacago Health Academy

With a generous grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Science Education Partnership Award, Ci3 has developed Hexacago Health Academy, now in its second year. Hexacago Health Academy is a suite of board games depicting the city of Chicago, which we use to help youth learn about urban health issues.

At the Hexacago Health Academy summer program youth are the game designers, creating games on health topics such as teenage pregnancy, community violence, and drug use. While at the University of Chicago, students interact with faculty, staff, and students, who provide early exposure to college learning, mentorship, and health careers.

Caduceus Quest

Our newest digital game project, Caduceus Quest, combines the enjoyment of a resource management game with learning about health and science careers. This animated role-playing game positions players as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and health professionals solving public health mysteries across the city of Hexacago. Stay tuned as Ci3’s research team explores how Caduceus Quest helps young people gain new skills and develop a pathway for a future career in health and science.

Imagining Futures

What does the future hold? Will we be able to control a car with our brains? Who gets to imagine the future? At Ci3 we believe all of us should be part of that conversation. Through our project Imagining Futures, Ci3 is collaborating with New York-based artist and theorist Thenmozhi Soundararajan to create media workshops to help communities envision the future. This project will use media and fiction to speculate about the future of areas such as environment, justice, health, and gender.

Help us in imagining positive futures for all youth

Please be sure to designate your gift to Ci3 by selecting other, and typing Ci3 in the “special instructions” box at the bottom of the donate page.


We know that the most impactful policies are evidenced based and grounded in research. At Ci3, our policy program is mindful to listen to the concerns and needs of patients, health care providers, and young people in order to understand the barriers and facilitators to optimal adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

This year, Ci3 partnered with EverThrive Illinois to use research findings to help support new sexual and reproductive health legislation in Illinois. From this collaborative effort, we were proud to see the Illinois Contraceptive Coverage Act signed into law this past summer, increasing access to all methods of contraception for women in Illinois.


At Ci3, we know that rigorous scientific research is at the core of improving the health and well-being of young people. Our research informs everything that we do. In addition to collaborating with our labs to study storytelling, design, and games, Ci3’s research team has taken on many new projects to advance adolescent health.

Working to prevent poor health among sexual and gender minority youth

It may come as no surprise that stable housing, employment, and access to health care are important factors influencing the health and well-being of all young people. However, for sexual and gender minority youth, including transgender youth, these structural factors may be challenged by stigma, discrimination and inadequate legal protections, limiting access to healthcare and resulting in poor health. As a member of the new National Institutes of Health Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions, Ci3 is working to design an employment-based intervention to prevent poor mental and physical health outcomes among sexual and gender minority youth of color.


Not all young people have accurate information about the range of available contraceptive methods. Through a prior study, we found that even within high-quality health care settings, busy providers lack the time and educational materials to make certain that young people have in-depth knowledge and understanding about all contraception methods. Thus, we worked directly with young women to design our miPlan app, an iPad-based tool that teaches young people about all contraception options during clinic waiting room time. Findings from our recent randomized controlled trial demonstrated that miPlan users had increased contraceptive knowledge and intended to use more effective methods of contraception, compared to patients who received the standard clinic care—suggesting that miPlan users entered their contraception visit well prepared to knowledgeably talk to their healthcare provider about contraception.


While the rates of teenage pregnancy are at an all-time low, adolescents are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections. Thus, we created rPlan, a sister project to miPlan. This new app, was designed with adolescents to help them identify a strategy to prevent both sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. The app helps adolescents create an individualized plan, using videos that model behaviors to help build skills both in using condoms, as well as, negotiating condom and contraception use with their partners. Enrollment is now completed for our initial study. Soon we will be reporting on the potential effect of rPlan on adolescent contraception and condom use.


Although the use of antiretroviral medications as prevention for HIV infection, or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has been approved for use among young adults, awareness and knowledge of this new prevention strategy is limited, particularly among young gay and bisexual men of color. To address this critical gap, Ci3’s research team collaborated with members of the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research and AIDS Foundation of Chicago, to develop an informational mobile app, miPrEP, which uses animation and digital media to inform young men how PrEP prevents HIV in the body, possible side effects of the medication, and how to access and pay for PrEP. miPrEP recently completed data collection, findings will be released in early 2017.

Looking forward

We look to the coming year with our strong commitment to the health and well-being of all youth. Ci3 will continue to design innovative research with and for young people to ensure sexual and reproductive health and well-being. We are thankful for all the wonderful collaborators, donors and funders, community partners, and most importantly, youth from around the globe who have made 2016 a success.

We can't do it without you. Join us in our vision of a world where all youth emerge into adulthood with agency over their future and body!

Please be sure to designate your gift to Ci3 by selecting other, and typing Ci3 in the “special instructions” box at the bottom of the donate page.

© Copyright 2016 Ci3 at the University of Chicago; Kissa Kahani Photo Credits: Saddi Khali and Seed Lynn, Storyographers, Inc

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