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Local nonprofit receives multiple grants to address youth mental health


Fri, Jan 21st 2022 10:30 am

Mental Health Advocates of WNY (MHA) has received grants totaling $278,000 to expand programs in addressing youth mental health in Western New York.

MHA stated, “COVID’s impact on mental health is monumental. According to data from Mental Health America, the hardest hit has been youth ages 11-17. Just last month, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a stark warning about the state of youth mental health. The advisory, ‘Protecting Youth Mental Health,’ was only the second advisory he has issued since taking the post. Here in Western New York the situation is the same: Youth are in crisis.”

Executive Director Melinda DuBois said, “Youth are really struggling. As an agency, we see it every day and have made it a priority to expand existing services to reach more youth primarily where they spend their time – in schools and online.”

MHA youth peer programs currently serve more than 11,000 students and youth in Western New York.

“Most experience barriers to treatment,” DuBois said. “So, it is imperative we meet them where they are. We are grateful to these four foundations for supporting these programs and our efforts to help more of our young people.”

Grantors and the programs each support include:

The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation – $40,000 to expand the “Just Tell One” initiative, a youth peer-to-peer awareness campaign giving young people the tools, language and confidence to start the conversation with a trusted person concerning their mental and behavioral health.

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation – $150,000 in support of the agency’s youth peer advocacy program (YPA), hiring additional youth peer advocates to work in high-need schools delivering peer-driven support groups and one-on-one support. The grant also provides additional support to the “Just Tell One” awareness campaign to compliment the YPA messaging to students.

Niagara Area Foundation, a division of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo – $8,000 to place the “Just Tell One” discussion guide program for students in four Niagara County high schools.

The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation – $80,000 to support a new position, director of youth peer programs, to manage the expansion of the youth peer advocacy program capacity and guide YPA as it becomes eligible for Medicaid reimbursement.

MHA is celebrating 60 years of service. In that time, it said, “MHA has anticipated, adapted and delivered nonclinical services needed by those living with mental illness in Western New York. MHA promotes mental health and well-being in our community and supports individuals and families living with mental illness through advocacy, treatment linkage, and outreach services.” Visit www.mhawny.org.

The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation is a private, grant-making entity founded in 1956 and dedicated to charitable and public-service purposes in the Western New York area. Visit www.themlwendtfoundation.org.  

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation provides grants to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of diverse communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services. Visit www.cabrinihealth.org.  

The Niagara Area Foundation was established in 2000 and is a division of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. The Niagara Area Foundation is committed to strengthening the Niagara Region by addressing critical needs to improve lives.

For more than a century, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has enhanced and encouraged long-term philanthropy in the Western New York Community. A 501(c)(3) organization, the Community Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas, and resources to improve lives in Western New York. Established in 1919, the Community Foundation has made the most of the generosity of individuals, families, foundations and organizations who entrust charitable assets to the Community Foundation’s care. Learn more at www.cfgb.org.  

The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation is a family foundation that helps children, adolescents, and young people affected by intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health issues, and/or substance use disorders. Its goal is to improve the lives of young people in its geographic footprint of Erie and Niagara counties in Western New York; and Barnstable, Dukes, Essex and Nantucket counties in Eastern Massachusetts. Visit www.thetowerfoundation.org.

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