The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $375,000 in grants to improve children’s behavioral health in Newport County and South County.
“These are extraordinarily stressful times for so many people in our state. Existing behavioral health challenges have been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19. These grants focus on addressing disparities in access to behavioral health services and substance use treatment that are having a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, including communities of color,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.
Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Washington County, one of 15 state-designated Health Equity Zones, will use its $250,000 grant to hire youth organizers to work in four challenged communities in the region.
“These communities face significantly more medical, behavioral health, educational and socio-economic challenges than most of South County,” said Sue Orban, director of Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds. “There is a growing body of literature that suggests when youth are engaged and have a seat at the decision-making table, they present innovative and effective solutions.” Each location already has a community health worker who will work with the youth organizers to connect young residents with appropriate behavioral health, social service and school supports.
The Strategic Prevention Partnership received $125,000 to support the ‘No Wrong Door’ system of care in Newport County.
“Our initiative brings together a range of key local stakeholders from within and beyond the behavioral health sector, including participation from the Newport Health Equity Zone,” said Rebecca Elwell, director of the Newport County Prevention Coalition.
The grant will support the design and implementation of the Behavioral Health Community Council (BHCC) and the Interagency Care Coordination Team (ICCT). The BHCC, made up of local behavioral health providers and community stakeholders, is a governing council that will identify barriers to care, service gaps and determinants of health that will inform the system of care’s areas of focus. The ICCT will share information and collaborate on care for the clients with the most complex treatment needs.
“The vision is an engaged community collaborative that works together to ensure better behavioral health outcomes for all children and youth, especially those from under-resourced communities and with complex treatment needs,” said Elwell.
The Foundation awarded a total of $1.375 million in grants to the two local initiative and five other organizations to improve behavioral health services across Rhode Island. All seven proposals align with the Foundation’s long-term plan for health that has been endorsed by the Governor’s office and legislative leaders.
The Foundation received 39 applications. The recipients were selected based on how well they brought together clinical and community-based organizations, engaged residents, proposed measuring outcomes and leveraged other funding or in-kind support.
“We sought place-based initiatives that will bring together partners that have a shared vision and action plan to address the crucial social determinants of health,” said Foundation CEO Steinberg. The funding is through the Foundation’s Fund for a Healthy Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $98 million and awarded $76 million in grants in 2021. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.
For more information, visit rifoundation.org.