As we navigate the tough responsibilities of adulthood, taking the time to prioritize our mental health is more important now than ever. But an oft overlooked group that needs that same level of attention are our children, especially during a time of unprecedented change. Fortunately, there are dedicated advocates doing the work to make sure our youth’s minds are healthy. Recently, Morgan Stanley decided to give these heroes their flowers for the incredibly important work they’re doing everyday.
Selected from more than 850 applicants, the first-ever Alliance for Children’s Mental Health Innovation Awards grantees are Black Girls Smile, citiesRISE, The Rural Behavioral Health Institute, Smart from the Start, and Teen Line.
The five winners offer a diverse set of inventive solutions, aiming to address vital mental health issues facing young people, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will award the finalists a total of $500,000 in grants to help scale their solutions, and provide consultation and a showcase opportunity on November 11.
The five finalists were selected after a robust review of over 850 applications by mental health and grant-making experts from the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health – a collaboration between Morgan Stanley, its Foundation and leading nonprofit organizations in this space.
The finalists chosen are addressing a diverse set of communities, geographies, and needs through their transformative and culturally responsive models:
Black Girls Smile provides virtual and in-person mental health literacy programming, education, therapy scholarships and resources to help Black girls and women lead mentally healthy lives.
citiesRISE is committed to transforming mental health through local innovation, coalition building, and youth-led action globally.
The Rural Behavioral Health Institute is focused on improving the mental health of those living in rural communities by disseminating clinically proven digital mental health care.
Smart from the Start is a trauma-informed, multi-generational family support and community engagement organization with a mission to promote the healthy development of young children and families living in the most underserved communities of Boston and Washington, DC.
Teen Line is dedicated to peer-to-peer support by providing teenagers across the country with an anonymous, non-judgmental space to talk about their problems with highly trained teens who are supervised by adult mental health professionals.
Latinx Youth Career Development Program: This pilot program will train Latinx youth to answer texts on the peer-to-peer hotline, aiming to encourage Latinx teens to pursue careers in mental health, increase the diversity of hotline volunteers, expand the hotline’s service hours, and build more Latinx mental health ambassadors.
According to research from the Alliance, 43% of U.S. teens are concerned about mental health challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the continued toll the pandemic has had on youth, innovative mental health services are critical to scale now more than ever. One in five children suffer from mental illness, but this space remains highly underfunded with less than two percent of philanthropic funding going toward mental health in the U.S. – and even less for funding targeted to kids and teens.
To address that gap in funding, Morgan Stanley has organized this Innovation Awards program and is now inviting these five winners to showcase their innovative solutions to a broader audience, including other funders, during the Innovation Awards Showcase on November 11.
“We want to thank all the applicants for submitting their proposals and our Alliance nonprofit organization partners for their work during the process of selecting this year’s recipients,” said Joan Steinberg, President of the Morgan Stanley Foundation, and CEO of the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health’s Advisory Board. “This overwhelming response has reaffirmed the fact that there is a substantial funding gap in this space and a plethora of encouraging innovation in need of support. We urge other funders to join forces and make children’s mental health philanthropy a priority.”