Avielle Rose Richman was born in San Diego, California on October 17th, 2006 into a family of storytellers. With a spitfire personality, and a love of laughter, Avielle was rarely without a giant grin and often barefoot. Like her parents, she loved stories and demanded them as she was falling asleep, taking a bath, riding in the car, and on every walk she took. She already understood that her life, her growing up, was going to be a series of stories.
The Avielle Foundation was created in 2013 by Jennifer Hensel and Jeremy Richman after the death of their daughter Avielle, along with 25 of her peers and educators in the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The foundation emerged as a leader in building compassion and violence prevention by funding research, educational programs, events, and helping to train the next generation of scientists. The Avielle Foundation has benefited countless individuals and communities, especially those living in and around Newtown. The tragedy was further compounded by Jeremy’s death in 2019. To ensure Avielle’s name and Jeremy’s legacy live on, the foundation formed a new partnership with the National Mental Health Innovation Center in 2020, establishing the Avielle Initiative.
The partnership between NMHIC and the Avielle Foundation grew out of the recognition that our organizations approach work with deep passion, enduring hope, and unflinching dedication. We share a belief that real change can happen when organizations and communities work together to develop and implement science-driven solutions to promote brain health, create compassion and ultimately reduce violence.
The Avielle Initiative at NMHIC has two major components. First, we seek out technology-based solutions to improve clinical care quality, build empathy, and empower people to improve their own well-being. Through technology, we create new ways to connect people in order to promote health, prevent illness, and eliminate barriers to access and support.
Second, we support the careers of youth scientists through the endowment of the Jeremy Richman Brain Health Internship and Fellowship. Young scientists interested in brain health will inform the development of technology products and programs focused on building compassion and preventing violence. The internship will be awarded annually to a high school student and the fellowship will be awarded to an individual starting a post-doctoral research career.